Antonio Ballatore of Animal Cribs talks design life and rescue dogs

1 of 3

Antonio Ballatore is currently the host of Animal Cribs on Animal Planet, and the HGTV star talked to us about a lot of things, including growing up with critters.

Designer Antonio Ballatore won HGTV Design Star season 4 in 2009, and hosted The Antonio Treatment on HGTV from 2010-11.

He’s currently the host of the Animal Planet show Animal Cribs, which is currently in its second season and airs new episodes on Friday nights.

(HGTV and Animal Planet are both owned by Discovery, other channels in their network include Food Network, History Channel, TLC and Travel Channel, and they also own MotorTrend and Thrillist.)

Antonio did a phone interview with Dog O’Day earlier this week, which covered a lot of topics from his construction background to his pack of rescue doggos.

Dog O’Day – Have you always had a background in construction, or how did that come about?

Antonio Ballatore – “Well, it’s like this. What I really wanted to be was a rock and roll musician. So when I was a kid I had long hair, played in heavy metal bands, punk rock bands, and the only job I could get was in construction. And so I started off in the summers when I was 15 just being a laborer, carrying wood and just doing whatever, and then by the time I was 20 I worked for guys building houses from the ground up, so that was my start, and then when I moved back to New York City when I was 21 I starting doing work for this company that did a lot of bar designs and restaurants, so I kind of stepped into design –

“Both of my parents were artists and I grew up in an artistic household, so it all kind of came together and I eventually went into set design, did a lot of set design in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. And then I wound up on HGTV.”

So, like, what kind of design, exactly?

“Well, set design, when I started doing that I started with this photographer called David LaChapelle, who was known for these over-the-top sets – like, we did Vanity Fair covers and Rolling Stone covers for Madonna, Beyonce, George Clooney, everybody, we did everybody back in the day. And David was known for these crazy, over the top sets, he was kind of responsible for pushing me in this direction, you know, going over the top and thinking out of the box and doing the crazy designs I do today.”

So what can you tell us about Born With a Tail?

“Born With a Tail is just my company’s name, we’re trying to get into a little more – you know, pet clothing, just T-shirts and things like that, the stuff that me and the crew wear on the show. It’s something that we’re working on making it grow a little bit into dghouses and other pet accessories and things like that, but it’s still in its beginning stages and we’re just trying to make it grow.”