I have something to say about Design Star's judges

It seems that the number of bloggers commenting on Design Star has exploded in the past year. I'm not going to post play-by-play entries about the show, as there are others who do that quite well. What's more, some of the contestants themselves are posting reflections on each episode (anyone else enjoying Emily Henderson's blog as much as I am?).

I do want to share a few things that have been on my mind. I hope you'll entertain me for a minute.

People seem to think Vern is being too hard on the designers this year. During the Twitter parties that happen during the show, viewers say he's being downright mean (sometimes the language may be more harsh).

When I watch, I find myself being thankful the judges' standards are getting higher. Vern is probably the most vocal of the judges and after judging the show since the first season, I think that's to be expected.

Every contestant on this year's show is working professionally in the field. Most of them are educated and some attended major art schools (if you look at the Design Stars in Social Media post I wrote a few weeks ago, you'll see Pratt and Parsons on the list of schools attended). This is not the Design Star of old, when an ex-hairstylist could try her hand at designing rooms. That's not a dig, it's a fact. There's a big difference between season two and season five.

The Twitter party is full of people making cracks about Vern's height. Genevieve Gorder, who participates in many of the chats, repeatedly answers questions about this and it drives me nuts that she has to do that. Genevieve and Candice Olson are tall women who also happen to wear pretty tall heels. Candice is a former volleyball player, for goodness sake! Did everyone forget that?

Take a look at this picture of the old group of judges with Clive Pearce. The other judges were Cynthia Rowley and Martha McCully who used to be with InStyle magazine.

Okay, I think I'm done. Lay off the judges. They're holding professional designers to professional standards. Those who say "let's see the judges do that" don't seem to realize that Vern and Genevieve have done what the contestants are doing when they were on Trading Spaces. If memory serves, Trading Spaces was about four person teams (two homeowners + a designer + a carpenter) redesigning rooms in two days on insanely small budgets. They can do it. They don't have to anymore. They get to judge. Right?


  1. Honestly, I don't think any of the judges could be too hard on the contestants this year since I don't think any of the designs were really spectacular :( But people picking on Vern's height? Really?!?! LAME.

  2. Amen.
    But I would like to see the group projects go by the wayside.
    xo xo

  3. There have been one or two times that I didn't really like how Vern sounded, but for the most part I do agree.

    1: Why make fun of his height? That's just mean.
    2: Yep, these contestants DO need to receive constructive criticism.
    3: I would like to hear more from Candace and Genevieve.

  4. I do not really like Mark Burnett's impact on the show. Too many group challenges. Plus, maybe I missed it... I did watch the show late on Sunday night... what's up with the budget? How can one team purchase two flat screen tvs, leather furniture and exercise equipment and the other team barely have anything in their room?

    Christine McD

  5. I love Vern..
    end of discussion!!
    sandy hugs..

  6. I agree with the comment of too many group challenges...good grief I worked on my own as a designer for 25+ years. It's my design work that my clients wanted, not a group project. I'm missing Bravo's design competition more and more as this dreck continues that shows no redeeming design inspirational to date from any of these contestants.

  7. I totally agree with the comments about group challenges. I realize that they want to assess the contestants' ability to work on a team. However, I think it was quite clear after one and definitely two challenges that certain contestants were better team players than other. One of two seem to work well on teams when they are the leader.

    I actually had a paragraph about challenges (including a comparison between Design Star and Bravo's Top Design) originally, but deleted it before posting. Top Design was smart to team up with the "to the trade" Design Centers for their show, so furniture, rugs, and other items could be borrowed.

    I do understand, though, that the budget for a Design Star's new show is going to be small until they can prove themselves. David Bromstad used to work with items from West Elm and now he's getting things from some pretty big name companies...it took three or four years to get to that point.

    Now, the thing that isn't realistic about the challenges is the time element. HGTV designers may install designs over the course of two days, but they always show up on site with plans in hand.

    I have a feeling the Design Star contestants could stretch those budgets if they had just a little more time to be creative. As the show goes now, they scramble and have to grab whatever they can find at the show's chosen stores.

  8. I am totally with you. I think the judges' critiques are 100% merited. With the resumes of some of these folks, I would expect so much more...most of the designs I've been like, really? I see so much better on all the blogs I read by non-professionals! :)

    PS - yes I LOVE Emily's blog. She is hilarious!

  9. Thanks for these comments... I agree wholeheartedly. The judges must judge quality on behalf of a future multi-million dollar program. It's an investment and one that after a year of searching, producing, and judging, must *work*! High standards are in play.

    Also, I do not think Vern's comments are excessively harsh. He said the team turned in a "big fat zero" and that comment is no different than the grade would have been on their design papers if they had been in school. In school, in life, in business, you get judged. The truth hurts, but his comments aren't mean or personal. They're professional and offer valuable insights into design. I wish the commenters were more professional and mature when discussing the recaps (and his appearance).

  10. Ugh, the show just irks me in general this year. The designers have turned out some really pitiful looking rooms. Have you seen some of their portfolios on HGTV's website?

  11. Design Star has always been a guilty pleasure of mine every summer. When David won , I was pulling for him. When Kim won, who by the way is the hairdresser you slighted, had a passion for design and she deserved to win. I actually love her show and wished that they would produce more. The third season, Jen, only had one showing of her show. And last year's winner, Antonio, bullied his way into winning. I hate the new format, I miss Clive, and wished that they didn't turn it into Design Star Project Runway. This season no one is a standing out. The judges are pulling challenges out their asses that make no sense. If I was a client, I would be mad as hell if one of them did some crappy design when I communicated something else. Boo hiss for this season!!

  12. Oh my goodness, last night's elimination was greaaaaat! Vern didn't even want to watch Stacy's video.

  13. Its not that I think he is too harsh on them, its that I think some of the challenges are ridiculous. WHY oh WHY did they bother with those dumb souvenirs. Aside from the white box and the firehouse challenge, the challenges have been so damned silly!


Post a Comment

This comment format is not supported. Please refresh and use the Disqus box!

Popular Posts