Erika Wasser, 25-year-old comedian and design enthusiast, is the mastermind behind SPACES, one of three YouTube original channels in the home and garden category. Just over a year old, SPACES serves up home decorating ideas, both for the high-end consumer and the “Average Joe.”
Whether it's for an old apartment or a first home, SPACES delivers inspiration and innovation from top designers, enthusiastic celebrities and hands-on professionals— all through video.
Editor at Large spoke with Wasser about her inspiration for SPACES, how it came about, and what’s next.
What was the genesis of SPACES and how would you describe it?
When Google/YouTube launched their original content initiative, DBG [producer of SPACES], and more notably SPACES GM Bradley Werner, knew a home and design channel was how we wanted to contribute. We pitched what we wanted SPACES to be—a channel dedicated to inspired design and the people who make that design happen—Google loved the vision, and so SPACES was born.
Not to be cliché and brag at the same time, but the New York Times describes us as a "hipper HGTV," and not to correct the Times, but if I could add to that I'd say SPACES is a “hipper HGTV with a more modern, metropolitan palette and a very, very good looking host.” (cough, cough)
Tell us a little bit about your background.
My background professionally is not in design. I'm a writer and comedian. That being said, my background personally has always been in loving, admiring, respecting and salivating over interiors. As a girl whose weight is always fluctuating—always—even as a kid I was obsessed with furniture. No one ever said, "That couch isn't going to fit you.”
Why is design an interesting sector for video content?
Design is visual so it naturally makes sense to showcase it in video. You don't just get a still, static photograph of something beautiful—you get to gain a sense of a room and see all the design elements and nuances come alive as we interact with them. It’s really up close and personal in a way that a still camera could never be.
Watching someone transform their space can be a lot more engaging than playing “Spot What's Different" while comparing “before and after” images. You can also hear why a designer made certain choices, the reasoning, and the how-to behind the design they love. I think it’s a lot more personal, and what is more personal than the space someone calls home?
Who is watching SPACES?
SPACES is a place for the design nerd, like me, who wants to see how some people approach their design challenges, without being subjected to a lengthy how-to videos that ultimately make me feel guilty about my unwillingness to pick up a hammer. We cater to the short attention spanned audience who wants a 4-minute dose of great design, as well as the kid who lives at home and wants their room updated, and the random YouTube viewer who finds us while looking for something that makes you say "seriously? That's real?"
The beauty of being on the web is that many different people are watching SPACES, and they're all interacting with us via YouTube comments and our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr pages. We get a lot of 24+ females, but have a much broader audience than most "design destinations" mostly because our platform really has something for everyone.
What are the videos like?
Awesome. In all seriousness, they really vary depending on the series, however we try our best to deliver something that is entertaining and engaging while also being inspirational, aspirational and sometimes educational.
What has been the most popular series?
That’s hard to say. Each of our series has really found its own audience and we don't play favorites because we love them all. If you love high-end design and want the professional look at approaching a home makeover, a series like "Thank God I Hired a Designer" is likely for you. If you're obsessed with small space design and want to see human ingenuity at its finest, "Tiny Eclectic Amazing Spaces" or "OffBeat Spaces" would be up your alley. If you love seeing how normal people approach design (and have a good sense of humor), “INspaces” or "Take Me Home" with Arden Myrin are shows were we interview and/or go home with strangers to get a peak at how they put a bit of themselves into their surroundings. Lastly, if you're a design voyeur, a show like "Space Porn" features 1-minute guided tours of some amazingly gorgeous professionally designed rooms.
What new series can we expect to see?
We have a lot of really exciting new series coming out for 2013. One I'm particularly excited about is "It's Got Potential.” I moved into a Tribeca loft that I could only afford because it's falling apart, but the minute I saw the space I knew it had great bones, or well, potential. So this series will be following the redesign with the help of great designers like Dwyane Clark and the amazingly talented guys at Kenneth/Davis Inc.
We're also collaborating with the New York Design Center on a weekly series and have begun reaching out to other regional design centers. We'll also be unveiling something totally new that I'm really psyched about called "Awesome, or Awful"… a 'fashion police' of interior design so to speak. It’s going to be a really fun year two so keep on watching and if you don’t yet, start!