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Design Junkies

New Zealand’s most inspirational and talented designers are gathered together, tasked with challenges and competing for the title of New Zealand’s best Design Junkie. A group of creatives, including contestants with backgrounds in different materials, Industrial artists, builders and traditional artists, gather in a salvage yard where they are tasked with the challenge of repurposing materials from demolished buildings.

13 – 19 July: Episode 1

They are to design and build ‘something you can sit on’ with an innovative use of materials, and a creation that will show the judges something about the artist. The apprentice builders gravitate toward the wood, whereas sculptor Aaron selects a stainless-steel prison toilet for the base of his piece. Another contestant who comes from a more artistic background; Kara is adamant to do things a bit different, selecting buckets and lampshades to add style to her creation. Time is up, the six new designers head to the workshop to spend the next two days building their design. Rob is aiming for something more abstract, taking inspiration from his graphic design background, whereas Adele is opting for an interlocking crossed timber bar stool with brass components. Kara plans to create a base for her chair, out of a bucket. Day 1 comes to an end, time becomes an issue, as Rob has spent the entire first day designing his creation, giving him only one day to weld the structure. Kara has changed her design and is using a bandsaw to complete it – the nerves kick in as one mistake could destroy her entire piece. Shane worries about Chanel – who is designing a deck chair, that may end up simply looking like just that. Chanel then attempts to help Adele but ends up splitting the wood on her chair’s legs. Tiakitai’s seat was going perfectly, until he discovered that a few of his refurbished pieces have Bora through it. He begins to stress, unsure of what he is going to do, with only half of the day remaining, he redesigns his chair with only three legs. Kara tosses up whether the resin will dry in time, and Adele attempts to cover the break in her chair with brass hinges. Rob has run out of time to complete all three panels on his chair, whereas Tiakitai hurries to add some additional design elements. Judging time brings Wendy and Tim in, assigning the awards, which correspond to points. Bronze goes to Rob, Silver to Tiakitai, and the winner of this challenge is Aaron. Before the contestants can relax, Shane informs them that they must be thinking about building their ‘Masterpiece’ – their final creation that will be on show for a gallery opening at the end of the competition, that has to incorporate their own heritage and tell the judge’s that they deserve to be New Zealand’s next Design Junkie.

Episode 2

With the boys sitting at all three top spots, the girls are all determined to take them down this week. Their challenge is to create a structural art piece to sit in the foyer of a randomly assigned business, and this time are their materials will be repurposed from the inorganics rubbish collection. Aaron got Real Estate, Rob got Telecommunications, Taikitai got Financial Services, Chanel got tourism, Kara got education and Adele got Hospitality. The designers then must rummage through the rubbish to select their materials, while trying to think of an idea for their foyer sculpture. Rob’s search for something electronic lands him with some keyboards and a broken washing machine. The designers collect their haul and head back to the workshop, where Kara plans to push her boundaries, sketching out an interactive sculpture. Taikitai gravitates toward timber again, but this time he plans to use it to create the form of a hand – an ambitious concept that he is struggling to decide how to execute. Rob dissembles his washing machine and discovers the functioning motor, which gives him some much-needed inspiration. The last day brings panic for Chanel, who is unhappy with the way her rope is looking in her art piece. Taikitai is also struggling with the height that his sculpture requires, as it begins to fall apart. Adele gets some positive feedback from Shane on the vibrancy of her work. With less than an hour left, the designers begin to hustle. Rob adds some shards of mirror to his large sculpture and Taikitai assures himself that he can paint his entire piece in the time remaining. The designers head into judging, Rob is up first and as he hasn’t tested the motor in his sculpture, he is feeling nervous; but he flicks the switch and it comes to life – the motor adds light and the judges admire the statement his piece makes. Adele’s hospitality sculpture is on the wall, the pink steel from a school desk becomes sweeping branches and she is praised for the emotive nature of her work. Taikitai is disappointed with the way his turned out, but the judges admire his craftsmanship. Aaron creates an opening art work, Chanel presents her nostalgia inspired wall piece and Kara showcases her education themed interactive sculpture. The judges decide on the score; presenting the bronze award to Adele, the silver award to Taikitai and the gold award to Chanel.

Episode 3

The designers gather for the announcement of their third challenge, walking onto heritage farm where Shane introduces the contestants to their task this week. They will be using fences and gates to create a storage solution for a luxury apartment. Creating them specifically for a randomly assigned object. Aaron gets clothes, Kara gets shoes, Taikitai gets book, Rob gets ornaments, Chanel gets plants and Adele has to make a storage space for wine bottles. Kara swaps her shoes for Rob’s ornaments, as the idea of structure and order doesn’t inspire her the way his random collection did. The designers collect their materials and Kara struggles with her lack of ideas, despite essentially choosing her theme. Taikitai is desperate to win gold this week so he takes a risk by not just using timber this time, instead making a bookshelf also using metal. Aaron is trying to come up with something less obvious for his closet structure, he is determined to make it artistic. Shane starts to notice that the designers are stripping the materials back, to the point where they are missing the brief. He suggests that the artists keep the materials pure, utilizing the shapes and character that the old gates already have. Kara finally develops a concept but is clearly struggling with the practical side of this challenge. Adele has come in feeling inspired, but Shane doubts that her minimalist design might not make enough of a statement. Chanel starts over again; Shane doesn’t think she is being bold enough. Kara struggles with the power tools, determined to learn the practical side of the work so she can get herself on the scoreboard. Aaron decides to take a conceptual route this week, which may lead the judges to critique him for missing the brief.  Adele takes Shane’s comments on board and adds some character to her planter, with some old bannisters.  Kara starts again, after her first attempt in cutting wood left her with uneven pieces. Time is up, the designers gather for judging and the tensions are high after all the contestants felt out of their comfort zone for this week’s assignment. The bronze award goes to both Kara and Adele this week, in the first draw in a very close judging. The Silver award goes to Aaron, and Gold goes to Taikitai.

Episode 4

The contestants gather at Crystal mountain, where they are given the brief to use old sporting equipment to create an outdoor activity or game for children. Rob and Kara are both at the bottom of the leader board, so they are feeling the pressure of week four, but Kara is the only contestant with kids of her own, so she feels as if she has an advantage. Shane also announces that this week they will be working in pairs. Taikitai gets to choose his partner first, and he selects Adelle. Aaron pairs up with Chanel, leaving Kara and Rob to be a team. The designers begin their 30-minute rummage for materials, some contestants start to question other designer’s abilities to work together. They head to the workshop, Adelle and Taikitai start to sketch out an elaborate three-part interactive dinosaur structure. Rob and Kara have a similar thought pattern around their materials, and Aaron and Chanel play with the idea of making a musical station. Taikitai starts to have doubts about the work that Adelle is doing and must step up and tell her that they need to change their tactic. Adelle agrees and they compromise, they decide on a pirate themed swing. Chanel takes the reigns when it comes to the creative, design elements of their piece. Aaron allows her to take control, eager to learn from her style of working. Shane begins to question whether Adelle and Taikitai’s mechanism will work as they are hoping, and Kara calls her kids for advice. Shane also shares his concerns with Chanel, about how their organ isn’t making a good sound, but she brushes it off as she focuses on decorating. Adelle tests whether their structure can hold her weight, and the team are relieved as it holds, and swings as they desired. Chanel starts to get flustered with Aaron, and Rob is worried about Kara’s decision to add the slingshots at the last minute. The group of kids come to test the games before the designers pack up and head to judging. Aaron and Chanel’s are praised for the subtle deign and consideration of functionality. The judges celebrate Adelle and Takitai on their thoughtful interactive design, and Kara and Rob are congratulated on their pinball inspired and colourful creation. The Bronze award goes to Adelle and Taikitai. The Silver award goes to Aaron and Chanel, and for the first time, the Gold award goes to Rob and Kara, who both get 3 points each.

Episode 5

It’s the last 2-day challenge, the Junkies meet at a computer recycling scrap-yard where they are given their assignment; creating an installation piece that references native Flora and Fauna. Their pieces will be on show at the historical military defence tunnels in Takapuna, meaning they need to focus on how they can utalise light in their installations. Chanel feels out of her comfort zone with these materials, a feeling that most of the designers can relate to as they rummage through foreign objects, desperate for inspiration. Taikitai finds Aluminium sheets and motherboards, deciding to create something inspired by the wings of native birds. Chanel aims for something more achievable, planning to create a log with bugs and leaves that light up. Whereas Kara claims a giant pile of wires, sketching out a giant cocoon concept. Adelle does research to find uncommon and rare fauna and attempts to recreate images with her haul. Aaron struggles with the brief, and attempts to bend it to find a more artistic take on it, which worries Shane. Shane gathers the junkies for a game changer, presenting six mystery items; telling the contestants that whatever they reveal, they will need to incorporate. Rob reveals a ceiling fan, Taikitai gets a lamp, Kara gets hair curlers, Chanel a heater, Adelle gets a projector and Aaron reveals a fan. This must use item throws a spanner in the works, Aaron decides to dismantle his fan quickly, making the item unrecognisable and Rob puts his aside to continue on his original plan. Chanel’s object was exactly what she had been searching for, but again she worries that her design is too simple. With only three hours to go, Kara and Taikitai come across problems that may stop them from finishing in time. A stark contrast to Chanel, who finishes her installation early and sets it up in a dark room to test it. Shane worries again, that she may have thought too small. Aaron is determined to utalise the space, he plays around with adding sounds as well as light. The designers gather at the fort Takapuna, where their installations will be displayed in dark rooms and tunnels. They head in and chose the spaces where they will set up their works. Chanel discovers a small cupboard and decides she wants her piece displayed in there. The judges tour the location, giving the Bronze award to Chanel, the Silver award to Aaron and the Gold award to Rob.

Episode 6

In the season finale of Design Junkies, only three points separate the top four places – with Aaron in the lead on 9, but with double points up for grabs this week, it’s still anyone’s game. The last challenge gives the Junkies $2000 and six weeks to complete their masterpiece, based on heritage that will be displayed publicly. Aaron takes inspiration from trips to his Grandparent’s caravan, so he finds a rusted old motor-home and he plans to restore it, turning it into a mobile art instillation filled with childhood nostalgia. Tiakitai takes inspiration from his Maori heritage, planning to carve layered designs into a table, then coating with a clear resin, keeping the functionality. For Adelle, her main design is based on traditional wood joints; she plans to make a three piece set, a coffee table, mirror and lamp. The story of her Dutch heritage and the use of timber pays homage to her carpenter grandfather. Chanel’s concept speaks to her love of horoscopes and astrology, two hanging frames, each with her parent’s star signs, and on the other side there will be a lightbox showcasing the corelating constellation. Rob plans to convert a petrol-powered bike into an electric powered bike, he runs the risk of missing the brief but he is determined to live out his fantasy of building an electric vehicle. His first time working with such intense electronics has led him to roadblock, as he struggles to get it working. Kara plans to make her masterpiece extremely personal, based on four pieces of writing that she published on her blog and she collects old pieces of materials that she finds inspiration in; together these will inform four pieces of art for her final project. She needs thousands of pieces of wood, as she plans to use her signature mosaic style, so time will be of the essence; but she feels much more in her element, back in her home studio. Time is up, and in transporting his piece up from Napier, Tikaitai notices that the resin didn’t set, and the packaging stuck to it. He spends the time before the open day, desperately trying to fix it. The pieces are on display, the expert’s asses the pieces and anyone who isn’t a friend or family is able to cast their vote on their favourite work. Shane chats to Aaron, who stands behind his tendency to push the brief, believing that a risk is worth reward. Tikaitai talks Shane through his disappointment around the resin, but Shane encourages him on his thoughtful concept and hard work. Adelle describes the reward of seeing her work on display, Rob is excited to show off his bike, which he finally got working, the day before judging. Chanel is nervous to showcase her masterpiece, but Shane congratulates her on her artistic approach. Kara is extremely proud of her work, showing a vulnerable side of her to the judges tonight. The public gallery is in full swing, the voting draws to a close and the night comes to an end. The contestants gather for judging, after the votes are counted and the judges have their say, the Bronze award goes to Aaron. This takes Aaron to 11, still atop the leader board. The Silver award goes to Adelle, taking her to 7 and the Gold award for 6 points goes to Kara; putting her second on the scoreboard with 10 points. Making Aaron the overall winner of Design Junkies season 2.