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Designer Genevieve Gorder on Music and Family

Photo by Myrna Suarez

Genevieve Gorder has been the face of home design on television for more than a decade, but get her talking about music and her daughter and Look. Out.

Beyond fabric swatches and furniture flows, Gorder is equally adept at music, and can namedrop favorites from Motown to classical Baroque to hip-hop in the same breath. It’s no coincidence that her musical train of thought often leads down a path to her daughter, who completes her holy trinity: Design, Music, Family — all coming together to turn her (or your) house into memory-making home.

“When I’m designing a space, it’s about music.”

“When I’m designing a space, it’s about music,” she says. “Design is the same as music: Where are the pauses, where are the allegro moments, where do we drop the mic? It has to have that space in between — space moves, and you might not know it does. But, you just know it feels good. It’s like a song. Where do you rest, where do you stand up, where do you dance? A home has to have all of that.”

As a proud mom and designer often curating spaces for those who have kids, Gorder is putting-her-foot-down insistent about the importance not just of playing music to your kids, but making listening together a central and constant part of your home life.

Being “French”

A photo posted by Genevieve Gorder (@genevievegorder) on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:39am PDT

“Music is like food — it’s oxygen. It’s a basic need in life,” she preaches. “As a designer or even a parent, you better acknowledge that you’re creating palates that will exist in that little human their entire life. How they’re fed, what they see, what they hear — creates the sensual memory bank. You remember it all when you’re little, and look back on it forever.”

Or, perhaps more directly: “If you don’t teach your kids to listen to music and dance you’re doing them a disservice. It is expected of us, let’s not disappoint.”

“If you don’t teach your kids to listen to music and dance, you’re doing them a disservice.”

While everyone’s got their own musical tastes, Gorder stands by one key, kid-based musical commandment: “Don’t dumb it down.”

“How we incorporate music into our lives with our children is the more important lesson. You shouldn’t dumb food down so that they only eat chicken nuggets, you shouldn’t dumb furniture down so that it’s all kiddie plastic stuff, and you shouldn’t dumb music down. You want them tasting new flavors, feeling rich wood chairs — those are muscle memories forever. Give it all to them while their brains are wide open.”

Music creates those teachable moments for Gorder and her young daughter all the time.

A photo posted by Genevieve Gorder (@genevievegorder) on Apr 22, 2016 at 5:06am PDT

“In a visual landscape we’re in now, it’s a shame to not introduce them to stuff you grew up with as well as recent music,” Gorder says. “I’ll take an M.I.A. video and say ‘Look at this strong woman killing it.’ And my daughter is like, ‘that girl is it!’ It’s not about being provocative, but I’ll go into the strong female characters and get her into the visual side of music as well.”

As a native Minnesotan with a deep affinity for Prince, Gorder had one of her proudest mommy-music moments when her daughter was around four years old. While playing “Adore” (which Gorder describes as “a slow R&B slam dunk”) by the late, great Artist, Gorder’s daughter asked her “Mom, is this Prince? I like this but my favorite song is ‘Uptown.’”

“That’s the main job of a parent, regardless of what their kid’s taste is: that they feel connected to music.”

The result was one happy, happy mom. “I was like, ‘I’m doing something right.”

Or consider the recent passing of another iconic musician, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. “She heard he died and she ended up presenting me with a really great drawing on a card. She was like ‘Let’s just play him allllll day, and we did. All day; all the next day — we had a grieving of sorts. She feels connected.”

Designer Genieveve Gorder
Photo by Lauren Crew

“That’s the main job of a parent, regardless of what their kid’s taste is: that they feel connected to music. It’s for everyone. It’s your gasoline.”

There you have it, moms. Whether your thing is R&B or alt rock, Pearl Jam or Seely, it’s not so much about who you’re playing as it is that you’re playing it at all — designing flashbacks that, 20 years later, still sound as good as the day they happened.

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