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TV Quickfire: Interior Design Masters judge Michelle Ogundehin - 'We had some tears, a few tantrums and lots of hugs'

New BBC2 series Interior Design Masters sees 10 fledgling designers tackling challenges while competing to win a prestigious commercial contract. We found out more from series judge Michelle Ogundehin

Michelle Ogundehin (left) with Interior Design Masters presenter Fearne Cotton
Georgia Humphreys

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM INTERIOR DESIGN MASTERS?

I saw it as a show that really celebrates what it takes to be a great interior designer. It's kind of like MasterChef meets The Apprentice, but for interiors.

WHAT DOES JUDGING THAT INVOLVE?

I think the word 'judge' can be a bit loaded, that, 'This is good and that is bad'. It's never as clear as that with interior design; it was like, 'This could work', 'This might have been better' and, from each challenge, 'Are they really taking on board everything they're learning?' Because one thing you can find with these sorts of endeavours, is the people who think they're really, really good don't listen as well, because they don't think they've got anything to learn.

Fearne [Cotton, presenter] got to do nice huggy stuff, and I had to be a little bit more removed and sometimes a little bit harder on them.

IT'S ALSO ABOUT TEAM WORK, RIGHT?

It's easy to think, 'It's all about me', and it's like, 'No it's not, it's also about how well you fit with other people, how well you negotiate, how well you can talk with your clients, how well you can just be a team player'. So that was just as important, and I think that was quite a hard learning curve for some of them.

HOW IMPRESSED WERE YOU WITH THE TALENT ON SHOW?

If I could have bet on who I thought would win from the beginning, I would have been wrong, because every single week a different person absolutely pulled it out of the bag.

The quality of their work was extraordinary, which is why I think this is going to be such a great show, because you fall in love with the people, you care about them, but you're also getting loads of really great ideas.

Giving verdicts is always tough because they want this so badly – this is a game-changing thing for them. So, to know I'm going to have to be the one to tell them this is where this dream ends is pretty hard, but I tried to do it with lots of what was really good about what they'd achieved.

WAS IT EMOTIONAL?

We had some tears. I think there were even a few tantrums, a little bit of falling out... Lots of hugs!

You can't do interior design half-heartedly. It's quite personal as well, because you're bringing your view of what you think makes a room or space beautiful, and someone else might not like it.

In the early days in your career, that can feel quite hurtful, or you could take it quite personally. As you get older, you realise it's not personal at all and you adapt, and you flex to fit what you need to do.

WHY DO AUDIENCES LOVE DESIGN SHOWS SO MUCH?

It's inspiring because you see real people doing stuff and think, 'Wow, I would never thought to have painted my room that colour, but I could do that'. Everyone can go and buy a piece of fabric and drape it across their bed, it's like the instant way to make a beautiful throw. Everyone can buy a pot of paint.

I personally very firmly believe that you do not need to have a lot of money to really make a significant difference to your home, and it will make you feel better. That's a wonderful thing. That's what good interior design can do for you.

:: Interior Design Masters starts on BBC Two on Wednesday August 14

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