The Bak Middle School of the Arts 11-year-old student is keen on interior design, and he’s dead serious about making it his career.
Many of the talented kids on NBC’s youth-centric variety show “Little Big Shots,” this season hosted by actress Melissa McCarthy, are performers — they sing, dance, tell jokes or play the flute.
Graham Sachs Gilbert is equally as talented, but the Bak Middle School of the Arts student doesn’t fill a room with laughter, but with style.
“I love interior design because it’s a liveable art form,” says Graham, 11, of Jupiter, who appears this season to explain his colorful way of seeing the world. “It’s beautiful, and you can live in it.”
Graham was contacted by the show after becoming something of a young design prodigy — he’s been featured in House Beautiful and Architectural Digest, and has a fun and popular Instagram page with the clever handle Instagrahamdesigner.
His design journey began a few years ago when he attended the West Palm Beach offshoot of the Kips Bay Designer Show House, with his mother Fran Sachs, the COO of Palm Beach Gardens firm Krista + Home, designer of the master bathroom. Graham, who’d initially just tagged along because his mother was involved, “fell in love with all the design, and kept going back every weekend.”
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Since designer show houses don’t typically have an avid middle school fan base, eventually attracting the attention of Los Angeles-based designer David Phoenix, who “asked me what I was doing there,” Graham remembers. “I told him I loved interior design and wanted to be a designer.”
Impressed, Phoenix recorded his conversation with the tiny designer and posted it online, leading to the creation of Graham’s own Instagram account and his invitation to the Kips Bay house in New York, where he did even more chats with notable design figures.
Mother Fran says that it was clear that her son “had excellent taste when he started dressing himself when he was 2. I’d look at the little boys going to school who were lucky if they had a T-shirt that wasn’t torn and matched their shorts. Graham was wearing button-down shirts and shorts. I wasn’t allowed to pick out his clothes for him.”
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Part of the middle schooler’s charm is that he’s dead serious about his work. This isn’t a lark or a game for him — it’s hopefully the beginning of a career, he says.
“I am a big fan of modern design, and all of the interior designs grouped under ’modern’ and contemporary,’ like Mid-Century Modern,” explains Graham, who also enjoys “an open floor plan … I’m a very big fan of sleek lines, simple but elegant.”
These guidelines play into the young designer’s plans for his own space, for which he has created a layout and started looking “for furniture to fit the dimensions of my room,” he says. Those plans, as well as the family’s plans to redesign their entire home, have been postponed by coronavirus. But he hasn’t stopped practicing.
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“He’s started playing Minecraft, but he didn’t view it as Minecraft. He was building homes, furnishing interiors,” Fran says. “He wasn’t just building worlds. He was getting into details of lighting.”
Graham calls his trip to tape his episode of “Little Big Shots,” which doesn’t yet have a specific airdate but which NBC says is forthcoming, “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. It was so awesome to be there in a massive studio on the Warner Brothers lot, and to meet so many cool kids. I can’t even explain how awesome it was.”