It's been a much anticipated return on our screens but the Great Interior Design Challenge is finally back. Showing on BBC2 on Mon, Tue and Wed at 7pm, the show kicked off yesterday and interiors bloggers are glued to the TV, myself included.
The group of amateurs taking on the design challenge includes youth worker Jane, actress Sharon, doggie day carer Holly and ex-textiles salesman Frankie. In the first episode that aired on Monday 1st Feb '16, they were each assigned a bedroom in the Pioneer Building - a modernist former leisure centre in south London. Here's where presenter and architectural historian Tom Dyckhoff comes in handy, giving us a quick overview of the building's architectural credentials.
The Pioneer building, Peckham
Built: 1930s as a leisure centre
Designer: Sir Evan Owen Williams
This Grade II* listed building was built in the 1930s by Sir Evan Owen Williams one of Britain's most significant innovator in the early use of structural concrete and a pioneer in the development of concrete architecture. A fitting heir to Telford and Brunel as some will say. Equally well known for his architecture as his engineering, he believed that the two disciplines would and must become inseparable. The building was meant to be used as a purpose-built health centre for the ‘Peckham Experiment'—a unique study into the nature of health.
As a repurposed modernist building, expect boxy rooms like this, which our hopeful interior stylists needed to decorate following a brief with their clients.
With £1,000 and 3 days to deliver their scheme with the help of a small team, they each had a very different style request from their clients and within the first day they are already judged on their presentation skills of that first brief. The previously confident Jane comes across as a little negative during the presentation and the judges don't like that. At all! Frankie seems to ace it but Holly delivers the goods. Personally I liked Sharon's colourful board the most.
It is interesting to see the elements that the judges pick early on as possible winners in room schemes and how the contestants interpret and consider their clients' needs over their own personal style.
Frankie's zen room incorporated a lot of what looks like expensive fabric. A drawer somehow makes its way at some 180cm height. Not sure about that. His perfectionism works against him as he rushes his over ambitious wardrobe dressing and the result looks messy with lines that are not half straight and staples evident everywhere. Me? I would have done this design with upholstery nail trim to ensure that the lines were dead straight. You have to admire his upcycling idea for turning the vintage racket into a tray that is conveniently stowed away and out of sight. Brilliant!
Sharon delivered a Bloomsbury style bedroom complete with a half wallpapered wall behind the bed in William Morris design. While her client was originally apprehensive of the intense blue colour of the scheme, at the end she seems completely in love with it. Here's a photo of Bloomsbury Style from pinterest, I guess that's the same one Sharon saw and went for green and blue. #justsayin
But what is the Bloomsbury style anyway? Well, the Bloomsbury group was an informal group of intellectuals, writers and artists that lived and worked in the Bloomsbury neighbourhood of London around 1910. The group had a number “members” but the most famous perhaps is the writer Virginia Woolf. One of the best examples of the style is found in Charleston House, Vanessa Bell's home. Now Vanessa was a painter and interior designer and also Virginia Woolf's sister. And that's the end of our history lesson for the day.
Back to our contestants and Holly impressed her young client with her geometric prints wall and photo booth. Sophie Robinson by the way, looked fab in that. #SELFIE ANYONE? The most precious part of the episode however came when Holly's builder dared to say that the bed might not be finished in time so Holly delivered THE LOOK. i am too busy glitter painting this frame so do not bother me with bedframe building, this is not my problem but the bed is needed for my scheme so MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.
Jane on the other hand. What went wrong there? I heard Scandi and thought, actually, given the size of the room, an elegant minimalistic look might be just what the room needs. But something happened between theory and practice. Jane went and bought new flooring. Heck, woman, white water-based paint the @%#& out of the existing floor and make the client happy. Big white box? Have you not heard of white on white layering? Or just paint the wall behind the bed black and layer with lighting. Throw a Stockholm rug in to jazz up the room. Make designs on the wall with washi tape. Spend your pounds on fur throws and linen bedding and geometric cushions. Get an Eames rocking chair in (replica, in budget). You can do all that with your money. But don't. For the love of design. Try concrete mirrors on TV shows. Unless you've tested the process 10 times at home.
Our judges Daniel Hopwood and Sophie Robinson seem less impressed by Jane's attempt at Scandi chill. The room ends up looking like a half done IKEA bedroom and while I do like the showrooms in IKEA, I didn't like that I'm afraid. The copper lamp was fab though and I wish she had success with her concrete mirror but let that be a lesson to all of us DIYers: just because it looks easy on YouTube, it doesn't mean it really is!
Another lesson from the 1st episode: Good ol' Annie Sloane will get you places!