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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 1 month ago

Set the Table: Local interior designer selected to star on TV series

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Wilfredo Emanuel grew up wondering if he'd ever make it onto a TV show. After being selected for a new HGTV series, he doesn't have to wonder anymore.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Growing up as a young child in Puerto Rico watching TV, Wilfredo Emanuel always dreamed of the spotlight. Now at 58-years-old, that dream finally came true. 

Before the pandemic paused the world, HGTV began looking for designers to compete on its new Table Wars series that features eight contestants as they design immersive event tables. Emanuel was one of those selected. 

“I never stopped dreaming,” the award-winning architectural interior designer tells Coffee Talk. Emanuel has been based in Naples for more than 10 years. He works closely with architects to determine the design, details, completion and little details of projects. 

For the initial Table Wars audition, he decorated a desk with a chessboard theme. Then he found out he was going through another round of the audition process. “My reaction was ‘this is not real,’” he says, describing it as a flurry of emotions.

Then the pandemic hit. The following audition process was held on Zoom. 

“They don’t tell you anything,” he says of the nerve-wracking interview process. “They just keep interviewing you.” 

In January, he was told the show must go on, in so many words. The show had a tight deadline for shooting footage — 45 days. That’s the moment Emanuel questioned whether he could go through with this or not. Around that time, he had founded Wilfredo Emanuel Designs and wasn’t sure he could leave it yet. 

But his friends pushed him to pursue it. Emanuel went through a 10-day quarantine before filming.

The show premiered the first episode of seven on Nov. 14. The show, hosted by Tamera Mowry-Housley, takes viewers along for the ride as Chris Hessney and Martha Stewart judge the dining environments to decide which contestant will win a $50,000 prize.

While he couldn’t say much about what to expect, Emanuel did say it was challenging competing against some of the contestants considering their backgrounds and experiences with design. “I did everything that I can imagine,” he says. “I had a sense of how I wanted it. It was a great opportunity to challenge myself.”

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