Michelle Ogundehin on the new series of Interior Design Masters
March 5, 2023
‘Interior design is so much more than just painting a few walls,’ said interiors guru Michelle Ogundehin in the opening sequence of the first series of BBC’s Interior Design Masters. ‘I’m looking for magic.’
With Series 4 of the hit TV show kicking off on BBC One on 7 March 2023 at 8pm (and available for catch-up on iPlayer), 10 new contestants will be looking to pull off some impressive tricks to get their hands on a life-changing contract.
The series kicks off with 10 budding interior designers tasked with working in pairs to transform five luxury apartments in Elephant and Castle, south east London. Each apartment has a unique brief, whether that be to create an apartment for a flat share, a young family or a couple in their 40s. They have two days, a budget of £1,800 and a team of tradespeople to help, and the finished designs must show cohesion between the two designers’ schemes, as well as clever use of sustainable materials.
Before Series 4 of Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr kicks off, Good Homes catches up with Michelle Ogundehin, the writer, TV presenter, creative consultant and interiors expert, to see what’s in store…
What do you look for when judging? Is it all about the brief, or is it important for people to bring in trends and show their signature style, too?
It’s about the brief. There are always hidden elements to that brief. There’s the obvious things that I’ve asked for, but then there’s underlying things that I’m also seeing like, can you work as a team? I’ve asked you to collaborate and collaboration means actually agreeing the story together – it doesn’t just mean sharing the same paint colours.
How important is it for people to bring in current interior trends?
I would say that we have no place for trends right now. And that comes from to two angles. On the one hand, we’re in a place where almost anything goes, and we’re encouraging people to find what brings them joy and allows them to be themselves. And on the other hand, I simply think we’ve got bigger things to kind of be concerned about – sustainability, ecological credentials, making better use of waste and so on.
So we’ve tried to feed those aspects into as many of the challenges as possible, because I think those are the really important and vital things. I think if I saw someone doing something overtly trendy, then I would probably question that because, is it relevant? I’m always looking for something deeper than trends, I’m looking for those bigger shifts, and right now everything is coming from an ethos of sustainability.
What kind of characters we can expect on the show this time round?
This series we have a criminal-defence lawyer, but [interior design] is their passion. So they’re willing to put everything on the line to swap a respectable profession for the creative arts. And so that becomes a very intense personal journey as well. Someone else is a social worker, and again, it’s always been their passion. They want to do this to realise something for themselves.
What I love is it’s kind of like design psychology, because in each of their designs I can read all of this sort of emotional turmoil that’s going on. What they’re trying to prove and what it all means to them. I always find that super, super fascinating.
For me, it’s all about the people. It’s about the journey they go on, from the ones that think they know it all, and then they go through a few challenges and it’s whether they recognise that actually, maybe they don’t, and there is a lot that they can learn. Then there’s the quiet ones, where you’re not really sure what’s going on, but then suddenly they get it and they just blossom.
Meet the contestants
The 10 new contestants battling for a career-transforming contract in Series 4 of Interior Design Masters are:
- Buse, an architect and interior designer from London
- Charlotte, a lawyer from Ashtead
- Jack, an interiors shop owner in Norwich
- Joanne, a foster carer from Batley
- Karl, an architectural designer from Newcastle
- Monika, a furniture artist from Paignton
- Peter, a visual stylist from Belfast
- Ry, an assistant interior designer from London
- Temi, a criminal defence lawyer from Hertfordshire
- Tom, a waiter from London
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Any surprises in store in this series?
It’s the contestants that give you the surprises. Where you think you’ve got the measure of someone and then they pull something out of the bag and you’re like, ‘wow, okay, I did not know they could do that’. Or that that wonderful thing where someone’s struggling a little bit, maybe they’ve been on the sofa a couple of times, but they’ve really taken on board the feedback and you don’t want them to lose the will to keep going.
Because this is a constructive place, it’s a place where I am willing you to do better and be your best self. All of them have talent, it’s just about pulling it out and getting them to really understand that their work is in service to the client, or the brief, or the location – it isn’t about them. And when they realise that, that’s when I think a sort of leap happens.
Can you tell from the outset who’s going to make it?
Oh, gosh, no. I’ve often said, if I had to place a bet at the beginning on who I think would win, I would have been wrong in every series. You just can’t tell. There is that moment when I first see them and it’s quite goose bumpy because they’re all presenting themselves how they want to be seen, and you can make a read from that. I have a little bit of biographical detail about them beforehand, of course, but you can’t tell what they’re going to do. And it’s a mistake to have preconceptions. So I try to stay completely objective.
Have there been any ideas from any of the series you’ve wanted to steal?
There’s been some really interesting divider action, where people have been very clever with zoning space. Our designers often have identical spaces to refit and redesign, and it’s always quite incredible how you can walk into a space and it’s exactly the same footprint as the last one but it feels completely different. Some people manage to carve up the space very well and they’re using dividers to do that, whether they’re full height or quite sculptural or made of furniture or shelving.
I think that’s really clever because we’ve gone down that path where all the walls have dissolved in our homes. Everyone’s gone open-plan crazy. But now people want rooms again because they’re working from home so they need the privacy, they want silence.
I’m also seeing a lot of really creative use of walls. Our walls are the best canvases for expression, so to just paint them in one single block colour is a bit of a lost opportunity, I think. There are wonderful ways that people have used a combination of paint and wallpaper, or painted halfway up, and then how they arranged pictures or something over the top. So there’s layering of inspiration. I personally love layering on walls, and an abundance of texture as well.
MORE ON INTERIOR DESIGN MASTERS
When does the new series of Interior Design Masters start?
Series 4 of Interior Design Masters starts on Tuesday 7 March 2023 at 8pm on BBC One and iPlayer
Who won Series 3 of Interior Design Masters?
Banjo Beale won Series 3 of Interior Design Masters. The Australian, who live in Scotland, won a career-transforming opportunity to redesign a luxury Beach Retreats property in Watergate Bay, Cornwall. Banjo is also writing a book, Wild Isle Style, and will host a new TV show, Designing the Hebrides, which will air on BBC Scotland, BBC Two and BBC iPlayer later in 2023.
Who won Series 3 of Interior Design Masters?
Lynsey Ford won the chance to redesign a suite overlooking the Lake District at Another Place, a contemporary hotel on the shores of Ullswater. She now runs Lynsey Ford Design, a bespoke architectural, interior and furniture design service based in West Yorkshire.