A Serious Design Reality Show

Strangely enough, television has long remained the last frontier for design. Books, magazines, web sites, radio podcasts, and even films abound, but if you wanted to watch popular design-themed programming on TV, you were probably stuck with home makeovers. But design author and trendspotter Lisa Roberts has changed all that with “My Design Life.”

Airing on Wednesdays at 8pm on Ovation, the show follows Roberts and her team of researchers as she visits trade fairs, exhibitions, stores and designer’s studios in search of material for her upcoming book DesignPop: Popular Trends in Contemporary Product Design. This is rich reality TV fare, with all the right elements: a high-powered lead who identifies as a design passionista, a host of moderately efficient assistants (“I have to remind them that they are looking for products for the book, and not just for themselves”), and plenty of design eye candy – in episode two, Karim Rashid gave Roberts an exclusive tour of his home.

But what really makes the show worth watching is that Roberts doesn’t shy from telling it as it is. In the first episode, she has a Brelli umbrella tested against 40-miles-per-hour winds at the City University of New York, and is elated when the delicate parasol bears up admirably. A garlic crusher didn’t fare as well, turning out to be impossible to clean. “We found that it is best when you put in multiple cloves of garlic, so the volume pushes the garlic out of the holes,” Roberts says, directly addressing the designers. “Joseph Joseph, that is my testimonial for you.”

Future episodes will feature the work of design legends like Ingo Maurer and Ron Arad, but you can be sure that Roberts will test their products just as thoroughly and fairly. She claims that her approach to design is “light-hearted,” and sure enough, the show is entertaining and fast-paced. But the best thing about “My Design Life” is that it takes design very seriously indeed.

“My Design Life” airs on Wednesdays at 8pm on Ovation.

Categories: Arts + Culture