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VOL. 39 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 6, 2015

Hendersonville designer Josh Johnson strikes gold with L.A. interiors

By Hollie Deese

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Designer Josh Johnson with some of his pillows and curtains now available online at Walmart.com.

-- Michelle Morrow | The Ledger

Hendersonville is a long way from Hollywood, but designer Josh Johnson is gladly making the commute.

The Sumner County native first gained attention of the rich and glamorous when he was featured in the HGTV series Design Star in 2007. Johnson was voted fan favorite and earned the nickname “Sparkle Josh.” He was also featured on Design Star All Stars in 2012.

“I was working with that network back and forth and just decided whatever happens I just need to be in that proximity,” he says. “That’s when we up-rooted everything and moved out here.

“We kept our house in Nashville, but moved out here so I could work with the network and explore other opportunities.”

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The Josh Johnson Home for Softline window collection for Walmart.com ranges in price from $37-104; pillows $20-$34.

One of those other opportunities was working with a company to design spaces backstage spaces for celebrities at award shows. It’s a niche job Johnson has had since 2009, creating luxurious and chic spaces for celebrity guests to enjoy while they mix and mingle at events like the Tony’s, Teen Choice Awards, Billboard and American Country Awards shows.

This specialized work put Johnson and his design aesthetic on the radar of celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Allison Janney, Patricia Arquette, Terrence Howard, Bob Saget, Viola Davis, Queen Latifah, Vanessa Williams, Lisa Kudrow and Anthony Anderson.

And it’s his use of Softline drapery panels around the perimeter of the celebrity-filled suites that got Johnson noticed by Softline Home Fashions, an importer and distributor of curtains, decorative fabrics and pillows.

Company officials were delighted to see their product in celebrity press pictures.

“I’d been working with them off and on for the last 10 years, whether in residential spaces, commercial spaces or the more recent event spaces here in Hollywood,” Johnson explains.

Actress Viola Davis poses with Johnson  – and a personalized pillow – at the Backstage Creations Giving Suites at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in September.

-- Photo By Arnold Turner/Invision For Backstage Creations/Ap Images

“Last year around April they came to me and said they had seen what I do, that they’d seen pictures of their product backstage with celebrities, and they would love to develop a line with me.”

Softline wanted Johnson to design the line based on what he would put in a Hollywood home – a celebrity look for less. Johnson knew just what to do.

“That was the first invitation, and we started developing,” Johnson adds. “The designs are very friendly to lots of environments for people that want something neutral but still really glamorous and beautiful and luxurious.”

A couple months after the start of development, Johnson got a phone call from Softline CEO Jason Carr telling him Walmart.com was interested in picking up a couple of new brand opportunities, and Johnson was one of them. And, just in time for the holiday season.

“They’re the biggest retailer in the world, so having that platform gave us a boost to start tailoring the line to be geared more to the Walmart-based customer,” Johnson says.

“It’s any designer’s dreams to have their own product line with their own influence in aesthetic and design infused in that,” he adds.

The Josh Johnson Home for Softline collection, produced in a partnership between Softline and Johnson, launched on Walmart.com on September 24 and features decorative drapery panels and coordinating accent pillows, designed with gloss and matte metallic finishes in charcoal, pewter and platinum, with black accents – just in time for holiday decorating and gift giving.

“Very affordable elegance, but still glitzy and beautiful and true to my aesthetic with that whole Hollywood vibe,” Johnson says of the look.

The collection was previewed at the Emmy awards, in the Giving Suite backstage that Johnson also created and has styled and has for the past three years.

“That’s what’s really driving the brand, me as the celebrity designer in these spaces, and then exposing my new product line in these spaces and gifting them to celebrities,” he says.

In the coming months Johnson is going to start on the next phase of development with the manufacturer, gearing the product to be marketed more towards designer and textile shows for retailers, including the big New York Textiles Market in March.

Johnson graduated from Gallatin High School in 1992 where he was voted “Most Stylish” before attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and spending his summers working as a probation officer in Wilson County.

And it’s his love for Southern, sparkly glamour learned at home in Tennessee that inspires the luxe look that celebrities love.

“As far as my affinity for design, my mother and grandmother were my greatest influences because of their savvy sense of style, fashion and domesticated decor directives, always striving to create an inviting living space, free from mismatch or clutter,” Johnson says.

“Historically, my design prowess has been inspired and driven by their ever-evolving flare for decorating, and ongoing prioritization of creating a livable, yet luxurious home.”

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