You may hear that charming Sunderland accent on Radio 6 over your morning coffee, or asking celebrities what their Desert Island Discs are, but Lauren Laverne is now in front of the camera instead of behind a mic as she’s brought on to host Sky Arts’s newest show, The Big Design Challenge.
The series, funded by Lexus, is airing next year and aims to showcase a reality format with eight creatives as they battle over five episodes to be crowned “Britain’s next design superstar,” as the channel claims, and have their work displayed at the V&A. Hailing from across the country, the competitors hope to apply problem-solving abilities and creative flair as they face a range of weekly challenges set by a guest judge, like the Bake Off but more pencils and paper, less flour and butter.
For example, Konnie Huq, presenter, a screenwriter and children’s author, will ask the designers to create a “surprising object” for children to interact with in a public space. Whereas Lemn Sissay, an author and broadcaster, will challenge them to create a new national reading chair for public libraries. Mourad Mazouz, restaurateur and founder of Sketch, is set to task the designers with making an urban pop-up for the trendy London restaurant. In perhaps the most interesting challenge, space scientist and educator Maggie Aderin-Pocock will ask the designers to reinvent the clock. And finally, electronic music duo and Brit Award nominee Orbital will set the final challenge; designing an artistic concept for its music and performance live from the V&A.
Lauren will be joined by artist and designer Morag Myerscough and industrial designer Tej Chauhen, who make up the judging panel. They will try to cast their eyes over the creations of each designer throughout the series, hoping to separate the successes from the disasters. Competing in two teams of four every week, a winning team will be announced at the end of each challenge, but all eight artists will be judged individually by Myerscough, Chauhen and a guest judge. When all four challenges are complete, two finalists will be announced who showed the most promise over the course of the series. They’ll go on to lead the teams for the final challenge taking place at the V&A, and the winner will have the opportunity to exhibit their designs at the V&A.
“Design affects all of our daily lives,” claims Laverne, “but the world of designers can seem a little remote from the outside.” Therefore, it’s been enjoyable for Laverne to “lift the lid on that and get up close to the brilliantly creative people at its cutting edge.”
Director of Sky Arts, Phil Edgar-Jones, also said that he’s thrilled to work with Lexus to help bring the Big Design Challenge to life and “to explore the art of things – whether we are eating, raving or telling the time, design is all around us and this programme brings that together in a brilliantly informative and entertaining way.” The Big Design Challenge will air on Sky Arts, Freeview Channel 11 and streaming service Now in February 2022.
Marc Sethi: Lauren Laverne. Courtesy of Sky Media.
About the Author
Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.