Interior designer Vern Yip tells PEOPLE that Gavin Joshua Mannox — his 4½-month-old son — is “definitely not laid-back,” and the Design Star judge wouldn’t have it any other way!
“He seems to be a very opinionated baby, which I love, cause I’m extremely opinionated,” Yip, 41, confesses.
“He’s not somebody who’s just going to be laissez-faire … He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like, he’s very self-assured, and all that’s great.”
“Those are all the kinds of characteristics that I would really hope for for a kid as a parent,” Yip adds.
From the sound of things, Yip often tops Gavin’s list of likes.
“He has these great moments where he’s just a really happy kid,” the proud papa shares.
“Sometimes I just get time with him in the morning, during that first morning feeding when it’s just one-on-one and he’s super happy and smiling and you just can’t believe that this amazing person is now in your life. It really is pretty moving.”
Yip’s busy career has the family-of-three –which includes his partner — often moving in a different way, and he boasts that Gavin is already a frequent flier, taking four plane trips within weeks of his January birth.
“We try to take him to different places and we try and show him different things,” Yip explains. “I look forward to as he gets older having to really continue to do that on a broader level, and not just have him just stuck in the house.”
Gavin had his first taste of Yip’s Chinese heritage when relatives held a “red egg party” — a traditional fête thrown for 1-month-old babies. “His eyes were 10 miles wide,” Yip recalls. “He’s just exposed to a lot of things and I think that’s pretty great.”
Fortunately, Yip’s work hasn’t suffered since becoming a dad; Quite the opposite, Yip says he has become a “more efficient” designer.
“Everybody tells you, a baby makes you more balanced in life and I think that portion of it is really true,” he says. “It’s just not feasible to dedicate yourself 24-7 to work like maybe you used to do.”
Having a “defined amount of time” to focus on work each day while Gavin is with his nanny helps, Yip says.
“I know during the day I have to get my stuff done … at night it forces me to have to relax and have to unwind and have to focus on him and being a family and that part is really great,” say Yip, whose latest Design Star season premieres June 13. “I think the quality of my work has actually improved.”
A desire to provide for Gavin is another source of motivation, and Yip insists he feels “1000 percent more driven because I really want to make sure I’m making the right decisions and I’m able to take care of this kid.”
“I want to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to lay the groundwork and pave the road so that he can move forward through life and have a better life that I had,” he continues. “Your hope is always that your kid had a better life than you had … Even though my life is fantastic, I want his to be even better.”
– Reporting by Joey Bartolomeo