Design Junkies

A new Kiwi reality television competition is now on my radar. Spurred by my recent respect for Survivor NZ: Thailand I have also started watching TVNZ’s Design Junkies with high hopes.

Initially, I heard about the show through knowing people who knew people who were on it, and I don’t think anything could sum up New Zealand television better. Design Junkies takes a handful of Kiwi industrial designers who love to create art, furniture and trinkets from a range of hard materials and each episode gives them a brief for an item, a time limit, a junkyard to pull materials and inspiration from and a well-equipped workshop in which to create it.

Shane Hansen is a Māori artist and designer and wears plaid shirts like this.

Presented by designer Shane Hansen, Design Junkies showcases not only the creative talent of the contestants but their character, delving deep into their style, inspiration and all-round Kiwi wholesomeness. After the contestants have put together their creations and presented them to the judges, furniture and design experts Emma Eagle and Tim Webber mark on the look, craftsmanship and their adherence to the brief.

Unlike most other TV competitions, no one goes home in Design Junkies. Instead, points are awarded to first, second and third place in each challenge and these points are tallied up to determine the overall winner. Other than taking home the title, the winner of the series is awarded a trip to the Milan Furniture Fair. Though this prize may seem a little humble compared to the huge loads of cash we’re used to seeing being thrown around on reality TV, Design Junkies draws attention to the fact it is simply not one of those shows. Aside from the time pressure and things going wrong, there is no petty drama or snide remarks, instead, the contestants often give each other a helping hand.

This contestant gets their design judged by Emma Eagle and Tim Webber, which is a pair of skiis? No, a park bench maybe? I honestly don’t know.

In the same way that The Great British Bakeoff is entertaining without having people pitted against each other, Design Junkies is a fun and easy watch that gives you time to get to know the contestants and get behind them without any brutal eliminations. If you’re interested in design I’m sure this show would be great watching but even as someone looking to watch light television for the sake of it, so far I’m thoroughly enjoying the series.

Design Junkies
Release Date
3 May 2018
Season 1, Episode 1