Design Star: REALITY Show? HAH!

A former Diva's Thoughts on HGTV's Design Star 'Reality' Show:

1. This is not reality, folks. It's entertainment. The challenges, schedules, budgets, and parameters of the 'design' work is not based on what a designer, decorator, or architect deals with on a day-to-day real-life basis. It's heightened with drama, infused with egos, and edited to within an inch of its life to portray each person/contestant as a character in a finely crafted story. It's allllllll about ratings. (Case in Point: Jon & Kate. 'Nuff said.) A soap opera with paint cans, basically. We talked about that here last year.

2. Therefore, don't expect to see the 'best of the best' that is promised in the TV ads. This is the 'best they can do with what they are given under the circumstances', if that. That being said, I personally and professionally am appalled at what I am seeing these supposed 'professional' designer/decorators turning out. All of the contestants either work in the design field or own their own design business. If their results in real life echo what they are showing us on TV, God help them. Dan's white room challenge design is an exception of this observation!!!

3. HGTV's web site has weekly Vlogs by first-ever (and best-ever, in my opinion) Design Star Winner David Bromstead, recapping each episode and adding his own comments. His OWN. It's just Dave and a camera, sharing his perspective on what's transpired. He's allowed to do that, they've asked him to do that, and he's very genuine and true to his own personality as he speaks. For those who are leaving nasty, snarky comments about his 'Tude, well, he's earned the right to say what he thinks. He proved himself already. Neither Dan, nor any of the other contestants, are competing against David, so lighten up already! David knows his stuff and he's uniquely qualified to share insights about this show with us. Rock ON, Bromstead!

4. I personally think team challenges should come later in the series. Start with the individual challenges, let us - and the judges - see the strengths and weaknesses of each person, see if they can bring their own sense of style to each challenge, and then go for the team projects. Why do I feel this way? Before any eliminations, I want to see WHY each of them were chosen to participate in thie show, above the thousands of other designers who auditioned. I want to see the color expert use color in a fearless and elegant way. Hmmmn. I want to see the set designer do something completely amazing that turns a white walled room into a mansion interior, just as he does for films. Hmmmn. SO not happening.

5. I am sick to death of the 'Designer vs. Decorator' wars and the attitude that if it's not 'designer label' or the hippest new trend on magazine pages, it isn't really design. UGH. Design is the act of creating something that has value. Period. Design takes creativity, imagination, thoughtfulness, awareness. All seriously lacking in the White Room Challenge. (Dan excepted).

I have to ask WHY on Earth no one went to the housewares aisle of that grocery store, to grab the sheets of cheesecloth on the canning supplies shelf to make soft, gauzy, billowy curtains or tablecloths or slipcovers with? WHY did not one single contestant use waxed paper, parchment paper, or foil to create a stunning wall treatment or faux window effect? WHY did we see a bunch of tiny little fruits and paper plates and freakin' plastic cups used as decorative elements????? BORING!!!!!!! And totally against visual principles for television - go for BIG impact, BIG effect, BIG elements, not a bunch of tiny things. And don't even get me started about the methods of 'construction' used. OI.

6. When I watch a show like this, I want something I can use, or that my clients can use. I want to see the competitors have to design a room for a woman who lives in a 600 square foot apartment in a senior living center, with over seventy years' worth of possessions that she has gathered on her life's journey. They would have to use everything that is already there - and she refuses to part with ANY of it. THAT is reality! Show me that, show me real-life dilemmas that require creative thinking, imagination, respect for the client, and with a budget of under a thousand bucks, and maybe I'll be able to watch an entire episode without reading a book or blogs at the same time. Sad that it's not even entertaining, just disappointing.

OK, I'm done. And yes, I'll keep tuning in. What about you?????


  1. The other thing about design competitions like this is that they aren't set up to find the best. As we all know the best designers have an off day and that could get them kicked off. Mediocrity keeps you safe until the end.

    All these design shows need to come up with a new scoring system if they truly want to find the best, not just the best characters.

  2. You should probably stop watching that show......I can feel your blood pressure rising from here :)

  3. Thank you! I like what you said about having the group challenges after we've had the opportunity to see what the individuals can do. I think it would be interesting to see a show that, rather than being "cast," was based upon actual talent. ...even if that meant that each and every contestant was a 5' 2" red head. Wouldn't THAT be interesting?

    Did you ever see the show, "Wickedly Perfect?" It was a "Reality" design competition on CBS a few years ago..before Martha's Apprentice hit the screen. The competitors were everything from floral designers, and event coordinators, to chefs and I don't know what. Each week they had to complete an individual project on top of the group projects. I think the gal who won was supposed to get her own show. Whatever happened with that? Hey, she was a Kennedy too! : ) Did you ever see that show?

    Best regards,
    Julie M.

    ps Ahhh...I love David Bromstad!

  4. I am with you Deb. I don't watch all the time because I get so annoyed. Since when to designers actually participate in the construction of a kitchen? I don't know any designers that actually do the tiling, do you? And yes, even the most meager grocery store has something to work with other than plastic cups!

    OK, I am done now...back to real life.


  5. I think I have watched this once or twice...now I wanna watch it again with a new "vision"...

    Heart Hugs,

  6. Funny, I thought the same thing. The color girl....pleeeezzzee, her white room challenge was a disaster!

    Funky Junk Sister #2

    Deb, you need to be on this show, your work has gone beyond the limits of these people! (like your tent at barn house)Seriously!!!