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October 23, 2014

Up Close with Bob Novogratz of '9 By Design'

by Allison Waldman, posted May 18th 2010 6:07PM
nine_by_design_bravo_family_portraitBob Novogratz will have a lot to celebrate on Father's Day this year. He's the proud father of seven children, but that's not all. He's also partners with his wife Cortney in the celebrated design firm Sixx Design, and together with their children, the family are the stars of Bravo's latest hit reality series, '9 By Design.'

What's it like to be a Bravo reality star?
For me, being a father is first, then a designer, then a Bravo star. I don't think about the celebrity because that's not really why we did this. It was about expanding our business and our brand.

Did you know your family would be so winning on television?
The kids are really cute, but you never know if that's going to come across in a TV show. Cortney has a background in acting, so that might have been a plus, or a negative because it can lead to overdoing it. And for me, it was never my desire to be on camera, but you do what you have to do. I think we're fortunate that it's worked out so well.

What made you want to do a reality television show?
We did this because we wanted opportunities and that's already happened because of the power of television. You can't underestimate how powerful it is to be on TV. Our book in number one on Amazon. We've gotten endorsement opportunities that we've been looking to get as well as a lot more clients. So it's all been good. We did it as a total business decision. We already get recognized in malls, get invited to big parties so it was purely a business related decision.

When you conceived the show, were you influenced by family shows like 'Jon and Kate Plus Eight?'

I watched that show for ten minutes and I couldn't watch it. The idea for our show is more inspired by 'The Brady Bunch' or 'The Partridge Family' than any other reality show with kids. I watched all the other shows to get see what they were doing and I knew we would be different.

The entire family is very telegenic, not unlike 'Eight Is Enough,' or a sitcom family. How do you make it work?
I knew our kids would be good on camera and they wouldn't do anything to embarrass themselves or us. I try to spend at least 15 minutes a day with each of the kids, just one on one time, because I think that's important. Some times it's more if it seems like one of them needs some individual attention. I think that's very important.

I liked the way you did the crazy pictures when it was time to move. That's a family tradition?
I like to keep it fun. I think it can be very stressful, moving all the time, so if we can make it playful and an adventure, then I think that's a good thing. The kids love it.

It's fortunate that you and Cortney both don't mind moving so often ...
We have the same philosophy about building these homes and then selling them and doing it again. There's nothing quite like working for yourself, not having to answer to a client. We love making these incredible spaces and moving every two years.

We're more interested in making great living spaces with game rooms and basketball courts and staircases. We really enjoy the process of creating something out of nothing.

The show has a real New York sensibility and the kids seem much more independent because of that ...

We're New Yorkers and design is very New York-friendly. All our kids except Wolfie can walk to school. Being in New York, you're really in your neighborhood so it's not frightening. The kids know their neighborhood and it does make them more independent. They don't spend so much time in the car going places.

You and Cortney really seem to agree when it comes to design ...

Our design style is very similar. Don't get me wrong, we fight. But Cortney and I see things in the same way. We can walk through a flea market and if you separate us, we'll pick out the same four things. I know was she likes and she knows what I like. I'm more contemporary and modern, and so is Cortney, but she also likes classic style like Ralph Lauren.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of televisions in your homes. Are you anti-TV?
No, no. We do have televisions in the house, but we don't really watch too much. We're not against TV.

You now have seven children. Do I dare ask you if you believe in birth control?
(Laughs) This is it. We're not having anymore children. We always wanted a big family. I come from a family of seven. But I don't think we ever said, 'let's have seven.' It helped that Wolfie was such a good child because when you have good experiences, you want more. I think if we had had Five and Holly first, we might have stopped with two. The twins are tough and Five and Holly are a handful. They're very strong and energetic and they take a lot work. They're great kids, but not easy.

Your children all have very unusual names. Is there a story for every name?
Oh yes. We're Austrian, so Wolfie was named for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Breaker's named for my favorite movie, 'Breaker Morant.' Tallulah is Southern, and Cortney's from the south. So it's like Tallulah Bankhead or Tallulah Falls in Georgia. Bellamy is French like bel ami, which means beautiful friend. Holly is short for Holleder. My father played on the West Point football team and the quarterback of the team was Don Holleder, who died in Vietnam and was a very great man. Major was named for my dad, who was in the Army when I was a kid and he was a major. Five is the fifth kid. And he was a twin so we named him Five.

Has Bravo approached you about a second season?
No yet, but we're already thinking about next season so, yes, it's probably going to happen. I have about 30 ideas for episodes already in my head.

[Watch '9 By Design' on SlashControl.]

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