Welcome to Moonlighting, a new Curbed column in which the talented Raina Cox of If the Lamp Shade Fits takes a look at design players whose first job may not have been design. Some triumph, some flop, and some should never, ever give up their day job.
Not content to dominate the world of professional sports, tennis superstar Venus Williams—named one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes last year—fancies herself a creative soul. She produces a line of tennis wear, is a published author, and happens to head her own interior design firm, V Starr. Founded in 2002 near Williams's winter home of Jupiter, Fla., the company was set to take advantage of the early Aughts building boom. V Starr soon ran afoul of the Sunshine State's strict interior designer licensing laws by operating for a year without a license. It was sidelined with a cease-and-desist order from the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design and rallied by filing the proper paperwork.
Williams again stepped over the center mark by calling herself a "certified interior decorator" in the firm's literature, which at the time was a no-no under the notoriously strict Florida law. Williams's "certification" came from Certified Interior Decorators International, a private organization that requires members to pony up $295 in yearly dues, pass a 40-question exam, and hold a certificate from a recognized interior design program. Yet Williams's design education consists of a still-unfinished correspondence school course that she frequently tweets about; her decorating "credentials" are no longer mentioned in V Starr promotional materials.
But Williams is enthusiastic about decorating and draws parallels to her sport. "Design mirrors tennis as you have to find a new design solution for every project, every new space, each new city, and understand the nuances of each client," she writes on V Starr's official website. "I love taking in the varied architecture of different countries."
Given her busy tour schedule, Williams isn't able to devote much time to V Starr. "She really enjoys meeting with the clients at the initial meeting, at first design and at installation, depending on her schedule," said a former project designer with the firm. The company's brochure promises all clients only a basic meet-and-greet with Williams.
So who hires a tennis champion to decorate their home or business? V Starr has designed McMansions for sports stars, a model for a high-end Florida builder, and the studio of PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley. Oddly enough, even when he was dating dating William's sister and fellow tennis legend Serena, film director Brett Ratner did not choose V Starr to decorate his Hollywood home.
That's the official word! But for our take on it all, click through this photogallery of projects from the V Starr portfolio:
· V*Starr Interiors [Official website]
· Venus Williams Prevents Her V*Starr Interiors Skills From Rusting [Curbed National]
· Design Dames on Forbes' List [Curbed National]
· The Private World of Hollywood Honcho Brett Ratner [Elle Decor]
· Come to Win [Google Books]
· Rising star: tennis great Venus Williams tries her hand at interior design in a move that hints at her life after she retires from the court [BNET]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [official site]