Growing up on the Jersey Shore, James Pearse Connelly had no idea he would eventually become an Emmy Award-winning production designer—although given his artistic background, it isn't actually such a stretch. “My dad was an architect and my mom was an art teacher in public school,” says Connelly. “But at first I rebelled against all of that.”
In college, however, Connelly discovered he was most at home in the creative industry after all. “When I found my social group [while studying at Rutgers], it was with the theater backstage world. That’s where I really felt most comfortable. Set design is like architecture except it’s more artistic, moves faster and is more rewarding. I fell in love immediately with the medium.
Today, Connelly is an Emmy Award-winning set designer who has worked on several reality TV shows. We caught up with Connelly to chat about his latest set design projects, including Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party and Top Chef Season 14, and his favorite style tips for the holidays.