So I don’t normally watch HGTV, but a few weeks ago my friend Jan told me that Miles Endo, son of Hawaii taiko legend Kenny Endo, was killing it on “Ellen’s Design Challenge.” It turns out comedienne Ellen DeGeneres loves furniture, so this show pits up-and-coming designers in weekly challenges to create outstanding new furniture pieces in impossibly short times.
Trust me, this is nail-biting stuff. The contestants find out the new challenge, start drawing and drilling and soldering and sweating, and then they’re standing in front of a panel of judges with their finished pieces to find out who won and who’s going home. When I started watching, Endo had just won a challenge to design a table inspired by a china pattern. The table he made, all clean and sleek black walnut trimmed with metallic panels, featured a secret compartment for drinks and cups that rose out of the center. One judge said it would sell in New York for $30,000.
Endo’s next challenge was funny: Everyone chose a suitcase that opened to show the name of a country that would inspire their design. The country he got? Japan. Endo made a bookshelf/room divider that drew on rice-paper doors and tansu but was shiny and translucent white and red with traditional wood elements, totally hot. He won.
Tonight, starting from the original 10 design contestants, Endo has made it into the final three. You know the type: Quiet, shy local boy, but what he pulls off in the end is always surprising. On the other hand, Vivienne has won the last two weeks with strong, sexy, exciting designs; and Sef, who everyone thought might be sent home the last couple weeks, has pulled through on the beauty and impact of his furniture.
I told you, nail-biting! What happens tonight is anybody’s guess.
“Ellen’s Design Challenge” is on HGTV tonight, Monday night at 9 p.m. Hawaii time.