Top Design‘s Teresa Keegan: ‘I Kept My Focus and Smiled’

Top Design contestant Teresa Keegan (at left) and her “Modern Zen” aesthetic were sent packing in the most recent episode of Bravo‘s reality competition show, but Keegan took the news with the same calm and upbeat perspective that she brought to the show’s grueling challenges (“design triathalon,” anyone?). How did she cope with live-in competition and shooting days that lasted as long as 22 hours? “Somehow, no matter how awful I felt physically or mentally, I kept my focus and smiled,” Keegan tells us. “I took it whether I was barked at, ignored, treated nicely or badly.” The strategy meant that she didn’t make any enemies on set—or friends, she points out—and helped her to learn something along the way. “I had the opportunity to discover that quietness does not mean weakness and that talent shines through the darkness,” says Keegan.

Her refreshingly relaxed approach may have something to do with good role models. Keegan, who currently runs her own design firm, has worked with 2008 National Design Award winner Tom Kundig and raves about the architect’s vision, talent, enthusiasm, and the sense of fun that he injects into his work. “I remember his story about the design of a soap dish in the powder room of a client’s home,” says Keegan. “He purposely made it awkward to use by making it unusually shaped, so people would struggle to get a slippery bar of soap back into this small, strangely shaped dish.” And so she’ll keep on smiling. “Designers and architects can get caught up with the stiff, serious side of design rather than realizing it is a fun process that does not have boundaries.”

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Shazia Kirmani Leaves Top Design with New Appreciation for Todd Oldham
  • Serge Van Lian Psychoanalyzes His Top Design Experience
  • New Season of Bravo’s Top Design Debuts with Host India Hicks