At first it seems impossible.
Eric Brun-Sanglard is an interior designer with his own design show, called Designing Blind, on A&E. The catch? Eric is blind.
Eric, a native of Chamonix, France, moved to the United States at the age of 18, and initially found success as a creative director in the fragrance advertising industry. Fifteen years later, at the age of 33, Eric went blind after a battle with CMV retinitis, a virus that causes inflammation of the retina.
Eric’s career in interior design began modestly. He started by purchasing two small, run-down homes, and renovated and redesigned the homes with his then-partner, turning the homes around and beginning Eric’s reputation for simple-yet-sleek design. His business quickly grew, and eventually included Hollywood celebrities like Virginia Madsen (Sideways, A Prairie Home Companion).
After filming a "demo" of Eric transforming an old garage into a guest house, A&E greenlighted the show, which debuted Sunday, with an intial order of 13 episodes.
Using a talking tape measurer, Braille-like blueprints, and his other senses, which have heightened since his loss of sight, Eric is able to design, as one blogger put it, "better than the people on Trading Spaces."
Designing Blind, co-hosted by the likeable and funny Alex Hedison (photographer, L Word actress, and former girlfriend of Ellen DeGeneres), is a fresh breath of air in the TV design show genre.
I met Eric earlier this week at his Manhattan hotel while he is in town for appearances on NBC’s Today and Live with Regis & Kelly. Hearing his schedule, I said that it sounded like he was having a busy week.
"A busy week?" Eric asked in his trademark French-accented English. "It’s more like a busy life," he said, laughing. Eric’s two cell phones rang repeatedly, a producer, reporter, or business associate on the line, Eric amiably dealing with each call, sometimes with a phone in each hand.
My guess is that Eric wouldn’t have it any other way.
Catch "Designing Blind" (30 mins.) on A&E, Sundays at 5 p.m. (Check your local listings to confirm showtimes.)