Design Star: True Design? Or Just Made For TV?

Can't stop SMH (that's shaking my head) from last night's "Look For Less" challenge on Design Star. I guess the format for the the next Design Star has changed a bit from when the show first aired. At first, it was all about creativity - hence "design", and the star factor, from what I recall, was taking people who were not already established designers and giving them the opportunity to make something of themselves in the design world - by having their own show. Granted, I understand you've gotta have some personality to be on TV and speak to a camera, but I think last night showed THAT has become the main focus. I'm giving you my two cents, but be sure to check out the HGTV Design Happens Blog, for a recap from Candice Olson, and the already over 200 comments posted...

The line-up was right there - Meg the winner of this "design" challenge - because of her roaring LEO energy on TV... But in my opinion, the true "designer" who actually REPURPOSED an item was Karl - and he clearly should have won this challenge. Which reminds me....

Since when is "repurposing" a desk lamp to an entry table lamp repuposing?
It's still a lamp - right?? Just like Meg's coffee table...

Since when is "repuposing" a coffee table mean just painting the top of it? It's still being used as a coffee table - isn't it?? Now if it were a dining table, and she cut the legs down to be 18" for a standard coffee table height AND THEN painted the top to personalize it by REFINISHING it... then that would be true. But come on... Also, (SMH) I went to the Art Institute and studied Interior DESIGN too - and there is no degree in Interior ARCHITECTURE like she said on Nate's Show. And if she studied interiors, then why did she call her more quatrefoil painted design a medallion? Last time I checked - A medallion was round. And I don't know about you, but since when is a coffee table a FOCAL POINT in a room ?? as she also said on Nate's show. And one other thing - Yes - the vertical molding on the wall was the START of a good idea - but know when to say when and take it up a notch. I thought her space was TOO busy, and no place to rest my eyes (too many little things and the L bracket showing). I would have liked to have seen actual stripes painted on the wall - or in between the molding - and this concept to be on ONE wall - or the focal point of the space. If you only have a budget of $2500 - paint (and thrift!!) are your best allies!

And then there was the valiant effort, but miss through execution from the pretty little pixie in pink darling... Kellie.

As a DIY blogger - YES! Tablecloths truly REPURPOSED as window panels does work - however it works best if they are pressed and a print - These solids and having no texture not only fell flat... but I am SO CURIOUS as to why she just "happened to have" two (looks like 120") tablecloths, when she didn't have any tables in the room?? Do you think that was some TV magic happening to give her space more interest? hmmmmmm.....

I believe the TRUE designer, who REPURPOSED an item - No Wait - actually TWO items: the books AS  shelves and floating shelves AS vertical uprights - was Karl...

Karl was knowledgeable, informative and achieved a well executed space that reflected a level of sophistication - and completion - not seen in the other spaces for this "Look For Less" challenge. I'm sure with coaching, practice and time, his TV personality skill could develop to something like David Bromstad. Remember, he was timid in front of the camera when he FIRST started - and look at him now, just eating it up!

I enjoyed watching the cross-production of design shows. It was interesting to see some "behind the scenes" shots from Nate's show on HGTV. It's also been nice this season to see different perspectives from the "guest" judges for the challenges. I also like the fact that they give the challengers a painter and a carpenter to get some of the grunt work done - but I don't feel like they've used the opportunity to delegate a little more design work to them (like painting stripes on a wall). I believe they were right in sending Kellie home. This far into the challenge, the level of execution needs to be spot on... However, (even though I too am LEO) I don't believe Meg should have "won" this challenge. IMO (in my opinion) I think Karl should have won. Meg actually probably should have left from the last challenge - and Kevin several challenges before (I wish Tylor were still on!!). That loft landing was hideous that Meg pulled together on the last challenge - plus her off hanging of the lanterns. Mark should have won the last challenge... and Karl should have won this challenge.

Sorry if my somewhat harsh comments offended anyone...
Have you been watching Design Star this season?
What did you think of this "Look For Less" challenge??

(Note: All photos from Design Happens Blog)


  1. This is the first season I've watched Design Star and have been disappointed. Good design takes time and thought~ much more time than the contestants are given.

  2. All I've got to say is you need to try out for next season.

  3. Hi Lynda! I enjoyed reading your comments on "HGTV Design Star" so much. I work night shift so I really have not seen but one episode of this season. (I did get to see a re-run one night while I was in the break room eating...the house the designers did for a family). I was not impressed with Meg's foyer either. Thanks for filling us in with a real designer's thoughts on the show.

  4. I agree with Miss Kitty you need to try out for next season. You would blow them away!!! On a side note there are several degree programs in California which award a degree in interior architecture. Uc Davis is one of them and a school I am applying to this fall.

    About design star they should have hired you to blog for them your observation is spot on!!!!!

  5. I agree, Lynda!! The term "repurposing" is often misused and misunderstood and this episode was proof of that. Karl was my hero here, too... shoulda won. :) Hands down.
    Heidi @ Show Some Decor

  6. Absolutely right! Karl shoud have won. He actually did what the challenge called for and repurposed an item. While I love the idea of this show, it's execution falls short There is very little time deciated to actually exploring the overall designs and instead, each week, the judges focus on one small aspect or piece in each's designer's space. The show needs to be longer. Perhaps, like American Idol, they could have a 1/2 hour results show on the following night. Then they could spend more than 30 seconds showcasing each designer's results.

    And, I know it's the nature of desging shows particulalry on HGTV, but would anyone hire a designer who told them I'm going to start on your renovation immediately and be finished in exactly 48 hours no matter what? Does anyone believe these artificial time limits?

  7. The show is a joke because the judges are so off the wall with their comments, not consistent in what they want and pushing their own personal style. I'd like to see real judges just once judge this competition.

    The girl they let go the very first show was the most talented if you look back at her photo's of her work. Wow, and they were offended when she tried to do a homemade project that failed. The first to go should have been the guy with the bright orange wall, but instead they kept him show after show making more mistake after another. I only watch the show because my friend does and needs someone to discuss it with. I like Karl and hope he gets it. I think he has real talent, but my gut tells me it's going to be Meg.

  8. Interior Architecture is most certainly a real degree, especially in Europe. Having met and spoken with David Bromstad on a couple occasions I have learned that these time limits may be artificial for those of us lucky enough to work as designers with clients off TV, but that these are the very real time constraints that the designers work with on these TV shows, often planning a room from afar off pictures a few months or weeks ahead and hoping it turns out. Additionally, I cut the contestants a lot of slack and hesitate to suggest that I or any of my colleagues would do better on the show because they basically go without sleep, their normal habits and meals, or their family or friends for weeks and yet have to be 'on' and amazing for the camera, designing and hosting and playing well with others under a lot of stress.

    HGTV doesn't hesitate to point out that TV skills are a must for this challenge as they will ultimately be a tv host first, designer second. That is why I still hesitate to apply, because I fear I'd have to put the show and the colors and accessories that 'read well' on tv ahead of my clients dreams.

    All that said, I enjoy Meg very much and would watch her show, but am eager to see Carl continue to develop. Kellie should have been let go last episode when she 'just didn't want to put bunk beds in that room'. As a designer I consider it a cardinal sin to not give the client what they really really want. Especially a small child. I still can't figure out why she couldn't step up to the plate on that room! She's very sweet, I wish her the best, but client wishes first, Always!

  9. WOW!! Great comments & observations everyone! You are SO right and that is a GREAT suggestion: Have the show on for two nights - in two parts like Idol! Lord knows they wouldn't miss not airing another House Hunters Show. I still stand by, as with most of you, that Karl should have won the challenge - He was the person who executed the task challenge and truly repurposed an item(s_ other than what it was intended for. One other option / comment that he might have used was that the books could be used books purchased from a thrift store, so it wouldn't need to be removed to read.

    After working for a bit behind the scenes at a TV design show, yes - it does take TV magic and extra people to "make things happen" - esp. within the "time" allowed. Being a (good) designer also takes the ability to THINK FAST, assess & streamline your vision for the time allowed (ie: EDIT), delegate, expect & inspect, and problem solving - Basically being a leader.

    Although Interior Architecture may be a practice over in Europe, I still did not see it listed as a degree program option at The Art Institutes here in the United States. - I only see ID listed. Maybe some other svhoolds have added it to their curriculum.

    Thank you for your sweet comments & encouragement, but as for me trying out for the show (SMH) I don't think so - and basically for the exact reason of the post - it's design that's made "for TV". In my experience, the choices I make for decor, picture, or furniture placement has pupose and meaning - (IMO) That's what truly personalizes a space. Although I still have yet to hear this coming from the contestants, Karl did make some mention of a lifestyle "story" his repurposed pieces would be used for in a space.

    Keep 'em comin'! And check out the HGTV Design Happens blog (link above in post) too. There have been some doozy comments posted over there!! Thanks for stopping by!

    xo Lynda



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