Inspiration, Small Business

Get Real: TV Reality Design Shows – Your Thoughts?

June 5, 2008

Let’s dish about television reality design shows today. With HGTV’s Design Star season three premiering on June 8th complete with cutie pie host Clive Pearse and Bravo’s Top Design set for sometime in the Fall with India Hicks as host of season two, I think this is a good Get Real topic for today. Many will no doubt tune in to watch designers battle it out, vying for money, prizes, and even their own show. I just watched the sneak peek of Design Star on their website and the enthusiastic contestant Michael Stribling used the word ferosh. Ut oh! We may be in for quite a ride gang.

Would you want to be a contestant on a reality design show? What are some of the pros and cons in your eyes? Do you think these shows are entertaining or just plain dumb? I’ll get the ball rolling with my comments on this below.

If you missed Get Real last week, we discussed Design Motifs here.


  • Reply decor8 June 5, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with these shows. On one hand, I really enjoy watching the process and I sometimes enjoy the challenges, but only if they are practical and could really happen if you had your own design practice.

    I also find it helpful to hear the feedback from the judges, it’s interesting to get into their minds.

    Other times, I find myself totally annoyed because I think someone was kicked off before they had a chance to shine, or if a contestant makes up some crazy story to justify a bad decision, throwing a team member under the bus or outright lying before the judges. Bad contestant!

    But I can handle a little bad behavior because it’s only human to get upset under challenging situations and sometimes it’s fun to watch how personalities try to get along.

    But one thing that always bothers me is the judging of design. Based on basic design principles, you can somewhat judge whether or not a person followed basic principles. Most of the time though, these design shows are more focused on building and decorating, and those are things that are harder to judge because it’s often like art…

    Your thoughts?

  • Reply Meg June 5, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    i just took a position as a design assistant on a home design show (although not a contest show) with one of my favorite tv designers ever (GG).

    i’ll let you know how life is ‘on the inside’

    but for now, i’m just insanely elated!

  • Reply Anonymous June 5, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I have to confess I’ve gotten caught up in the drama of past design star contests. It’s fun to root for your favorite contestant, but ultimately frustrating to see your favorite booted off for a personality conflict or something somewhat minor. I wasn’t too thrilled with one of the past finalists who came up with what I felt were unrealistic designs. Unusual, flamboyant and creative? Yes. A designer I would want to watch every week? No. In the end, I’ve decided that producers of these shows primarily look for someone with equal doses of design talent, the personality to hold viewers’ interest week after week and good looks.

  • Reply becky from hatch June 5, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Never. I’ve made so much fun of these people that karma would kick my a**! If I could sew or design clothes, I would LOVE to do Project Runway. I like the studio atmosphere – it reminds me so much of my class in grad school. The time pressures there are do-able. Very tough, but manageable.

    In interior design, my process is more evolutionary – trial and error. I could never do the shopping and produce something I truly loved and was proud of in the time alloted on the design shows.

    I do like the challenge of working within a budget, and I enjoyed some of the challenges where they had to say, design with all things from a pet store or something. I like the garage store challenges. I’d like to see what I could come up with if I had to buy everything at K-Mart (all department being fair game).

    Anyway, something about having a little space in the Design Center and having to shop at the Pacific Design Center really turned me off about Top Design – it seemed so stale and boring. I’d much rather be in the studio atmosphere of Project Runway, getting goofy from lack of sleep with my comrades.

    OK, I have to get back to my TiVo’d marathon of Flipping Out now. I am obsessed with Jeff Lewis, I just love him so much!


  • Reply Sixth & Elm June 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Not gonna lie, I had to Google “ferosh.”

    The shows are frustrating because you know that behind it all the purpose is to make good TV, not good design. That means conflicts and upsets that undermine the talent, I think.

    Yeah, I’ll still watch them though.

  • Reply diana @ please sir June 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I’m pretty torn on this topic. I’ll watch reality shows here and there, and got into Top Design last season. I don’t think I would want to be on one of these shows. I’m pretty good at handling stress, but I’m afraid I would cry on TV if I got bumped off! I agree – the critique process is good, but it seems like you never really know what the judges will like or decide. In the end I’m sure it helps some of their careers, but may even damage a few along the way. I wouldn’t want to take that chance on national TV.

  • Reply Simone June 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    i may be the only person who “learns” from tv but i like those shows. i accept that it’s a drama and take that for what it is, but i also get my pen + paper just in case there is a good tip. same thing with top chef.

  • Reply Only Partially Insane June 5, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    I’m not a big fan of the design contest shows, and would never want to be on one….but I’d LOVE to be on a home makeover show (for my yard). I don’t trust another designer enough to do my house, but my yard….totally different story.

  • Reply becky from hatch June 5, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Simone, the problem with Top Chef is that it gives me the munchies every time I watch it. One season=10 pounds on me!

  • Reply ellencrimitrent June 5, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Becky I hear ya everytime I watch top chef I am having some wine and food and now I have to go for a run because its starting to catch up with me!

  • Reply John Trosko June 5, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Great topic. While I don’t have experience being on a reality show, I have filmed television segments with lights, a director make-up and set ups. A 2 minute spot took a entire day to shoot. It depends on how professional the outcome needs to be though. I have close friends who are still benefitting from being on these larger shows, but feared for their life when one of the cast members was attacked with a glass bottle, in public. You see, reality tv stars do not make the money necessary to hire bodygaurds and live behind gates. Some own businesses you can just walk right into and see the “star” working. This really frightened us. And while this kind of behavior is probably rare, it does add some “reality” to being a “reality tv” star. John

  • Reply design gal June 5, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I don’t think I would want to be one one of these shows, just because I’m not someone who wants to be on TV anyway.

    I love watching them though. It’s amazing what they come up with sometimes.

  • Reply Justine June 6, 2008 at 4:29 am

    I’m from Canada so we have our own versions of these types of shows, an I have seen one season of Design Star…

    I like these shows because I like to imagine what I would do in the different challenges (and, of course, in my imagination I win ever time!)

    However I find the design so amateurish or uninteresting or unoriginal, so they don’t tend to inspire me that way…

  • Reply Anonymous June 6, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Love them! fun to watch…don’t usually learn a lot….my only trouble with them is how they throw around the name “designer” when so rarely are any of them really a “designer” last designer star winner was a hair stylist…if they’d say “decorator” I’d be a little happier, I didn’t go to college to get my design degree for nothing

  • Reply Kathy June 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Great topic.
    I don’t watch reality tv, but watch what I refer to as educational {HA} reality tv: Decorating, Business (Trump), and Cooking:

    I, too, have a love/hate. I don’t watch too many, but tune in from time to time. Because I have many clients who actually host, produce or have some hand in these “educational” reality shows, I know too well from their stories that the editing is done in such a way that many scenes are vastly distorted from the truth of what actually went down. This makes me want to take a shower.

    As someone else here mentioned, it’s more about good tv than good design.

    That said….I do learn a bit from time to time, enjoy seeing what talents abound out there, and get a kick out of some of the antics. I travel so much so I never found a need to get TIVO, but got it as a gift from my father this week. I will be taping this show and see if I become addicted….!

  • Reply Leigh- June 7, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I was actually invited to apply, but I keep going over and over if I should, I have had a couple of friends on a reality show, and just ponder from their experiences.. But this show is really a great way to showcase artistic ability, a huge challenge, which I love and a great chance to get myself out there, soooo maybe why not.

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