But for contestant Mondo Guerra, teching out on the show turned into a life-changing experience in last week's HP Challenge episode. Like last season, the designers had to create a fabric based on a family memory using HP TouchSmart PCs. When they entered the room, the large PCs were loaded with photos of the designers' families on the TouchSmart's completely customizable interface, allowing the user to drag photos around the screen, add notes, and more.
I had a chance to speak with Mondo, the winner of the challenge, whose plus design was a workroom favorite but had some of the other designers curious as to his inspiration. It came as a huge shock when he revealed during judging that he has been HIV-positive for 10 years.
Find out what he had to say about using the technology to design and what his big reveal was like after the break.
GeekSugar: Last season they also had this challenge designing fabrics. Did you at all think that it was something that you would do as well?
Mondo Guerra: When you are on the show, you never know what they are going to throw at you. When we walked in that day I didn't know what was happening. We saw pictures of us as children with our families [on the computer screens]. It could've been anything. And once our parents walked in we were like, wow, things are really going to get insane. You can never really predict what the new day is going to bring.
GS: What were you thinking when you came in and first saw the pictures of your family?
MG: I was really amazed and being there for five weeks at this point I had been away from my family for such a long time, not even being able to communicate with them, and so when I walked into the room and saw these pictures of me and my family [and me] as a child it made me think a lot about what I was there to do and what I was there to accomplish and where I'd been and how hard I'd worked and struggled to get to that point. It really made me want to do a better job.
GS: How was making your own fabric?
MG: It was amazing, especially using the technology. It was a new creative outlet. I'm always trying to find new ways to express myself and usually I use fabric or I use paint or I use piano so using a computer to create something very personal and artistic was exciting.
GS: There was a scene when April was talking with you about what kind of pattern you were thinking of. Did you go through different schemes before you decided?
MG: I designed this other one . . . I was basing it on flying into New York, the first time I ever flew into New York and signed a contract with a design firm out there. I was really young, I was 22 at that time, and leaving New York to fly back to Denver just to get my stuff to move back to New York, I was designing this textile based on the view from the top looking down at all the buildings from the airplane, so it was really cool, and then I did design the one I actually chose, and when April came over and was asking questions about it, even though I didn't tell her exactly what my inspiration was, when she said, "I think this looks more like you. I think this is more you" without her even knowing my story behind it, that made me really decide to go with that particular design.
GS: Do you think you’re going to be designing any fabrics in the future?
MG: I would love to learn more about the technology and the programs and find a way to manufacture my designs on textile. It really allows you to be very personal with your work, and I think that's where so much good art comes from, it has to be personal or it can be mediocre, and who wants to make mediocre art.
Photos courtesy of Lifetime