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Lauren Laverne joins brand new Sky Arts series The Big Design Challenge

Konnie Huq, Lemn Sissay and electronic music duo Orbital also appear as guest judges in the search for Britain’s next top designer


Sky Arts is set to spotlight Britain’s best design talent with new series The Big Design Challenge, airing next year. Hosted by DJ, author and presenter Lauren Laverne, this new skills-based reality format will see eight top creatives battle it out over five episodes to be crowned Britain’s next design superstar.

Drawn from all corners of the UK, the competitors will put their problem-solving abilities and creative flair to the test as they face a range of weekly challenges set by a guest judge. The guest judges and challenges are as follows:

  • Konnie Huq, presenter, screenwriter and children’s author, challenges the designers to create an outdoor play sculpture for children.
  • Lemn Sissay, author and broadcaster, asks for a new national reading chair for public libraries.
  • Mourad Mazouz, restaurateur and founder of Sketch, tasks the designers with creating a lighting design for a home dining experience, inspired by the iconic London hotspot.
  • Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist and educator, sets the designers the challenge of reinventing the clock.
  • Orbital, electronic music duo and Brit Award nominee play live from the V&A and set the final challenge of designing an object or product inspired by their music.

Lauren is also joined by two expert judges, artist and designer Morag Myerscough and industrial designer Tej Chauhan, who will cast their eyes over the designers’ creations throughout the series and separate the successes from the disasters.

The designers will compete in two teams of four each week, led by a different team captain. At the end of each challenge, one team will be declared the winner, with all eight artists judged individually by Morag, Tej and the guest judge. When four challenges are complete, two finalists will be announced whose work has impressed the most over the course of the series. They’ll go on to lead the teams for the final challenge taking place at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. The winner will have the opportunity to exhibit their designs at the V&A, gaining exposure to millions of visitors and industry experts.

Lauren Laverne commented: “Design affects all of our daily lives, but the world of designers can seem a little remote from the outside - it’s been so much fun to lift the lid on that and get up close to the brilliantly creative people at its cutting edge. I can’t wait to introduce our viewers to our wonderful judges, fantastically talented designers and some extraordinary guests!”

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, commented: “Design is all around us everywhere, every day whether we are eating, sleeping, raving or just telling the time. The Big Design Challenge gets us under the skin of the art of the designer in the most informative and entertaining way and we are thrilled to open up that world to our Sky Arts audience.”

The Big Design Challenge is produced by Somethin’ Else TV Studio, part of 4th Floor Creative, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. The Executive Producer is Ian Sharpe. Barbara Lee is Commissioning Editor for Sky. The series is produced in partnership with Lexus.

The Big Design Challenge will air on Sky Arts, Freeview Channel 11, and streaming service NOW in February 2022

About Lauren Laverne

Lauren Laverne is a multi-award winning broadcaster with twenty years’ experience working in broadcasting and the music industry. You can hear Lauren daily hosting BBC 6Music’s Breakfast Show and weekly at the helm of the prestigious Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. During her career Lauren has worked for every major British television network and on BBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Live and 6Music. Her current Breakfast Show boasts 2.4m listeners and BBC 6Music is the UK’s most listened-to digital station.

Lauren’s career started within the music industry, moving to London as a teenager when her band Kenickie won a record deal. Guest appearances on shows like Never Mind the Buzzcocks led to further opportunities in music television, from BBC’s Glastonbury coverage, to MTV and Transmission for Channel 4. In 2005, Lauren took over the XFM Breakfast Show and was the first female to host the stations flagship show.

Lauren’s passion for music and love of the intimate relationship radio enables with its listeners led her to BBC 6Music. In speech radio Lauren has enjoyed making successful documentaries for both BBC 6Music and Radio 4, being part of the iconic Woman’s Hour team and helping shape and host Late Night Woman’s Hour. All of which left her well placed to take up the reins on Desert Island Discs, a show that combines Lauren’s natural interest in people and appreciation for music.

Lauren is a hugely capable host, both on screen and of events and has credits including The Mercury Prize, The Turner Prize and The British Fashion Awards. On television, she has presented a diverse range of arts and culture shows including the BBC’s flagship arts programme The Culture Show and Channel 4’s satirical news programme 10 O’Clock Live.

In 2010 Lauren published her first book: Candy Pop: Candy and the Broken Biscuits. She has also written regular columns for The Observer, Red and Grazia magazines and in 2015 Co-Founded The Pool a mobile platform for women by women.

About the Expert Judges

Morag Myerscough

Morag’s mantra is ‘make happy those who are near and those who are far will come’. Born and Bred, Holloway, London, Morag has always lived in the city and has been fascinated by how colour pattern and words can change urban environments and peoples perceptions of spaces into places.

From schools and hospitals to cultural hubs and town centres Morag transforms public spaces by creating engaging experiences for everyone. Morag is obsessed with Belonging and talks about it around the world

Her strong visual approach is instantly recognisable and elevates every context in which it is placed. Her work is rooted in creating a sense of joy and belonging for all those who encounter it. Morag creates specific local responses to each distinct audience that will see and experience the work, using it to create community and build identity.

She often works with community groups to develop ideas that reflect the identity of the users, drawing on shared cultural history and heritage of the local area. Morag’s visual vocabulary by nature and its effortless energy, resonates both visually and emotionally with audiences well beyond geographical and cultural boundaries.

Tej Chauhan

Tej Chauhan is an industrial designer known for his emotive visual language and cutting-edge consumer technology and homeware.

Born in London, Chauhan graduated from Central St Martins School of Art and Design in 1995 and went on to work as an independent designer and consultant for brands ranging from fashion designer Michiko Koshino to British Airways and The Body Shop.

Tej joined Nokia as a Senior Designer in 2000, where he led the design of the Nokia 7600, 7280 (listed as one of the Best 25 Products of 2004 by Fortune Magazine) and 7370 fashion products. In 2003/4, Tej was also an Associate Lecturer in Product Design on the Faculty at Central St Martins. He left Nokia in 2005 to establish his own practice, Tej Chauhan Ltd.

Tej’s work has appeared in Arena, Elle, Elle Decoration, Esquire, The Evening Standard, The Financial Times, Fortune Magazine, Future Laboratory, GQ, Homes & Gardens, ICON, I.D, i-D, Metro, The New York Times Style Section, The Observer, Shortlist, Stuff, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times Magazine, Surface, T3, Viewpoint, Vogue & Wallpaper* among others.

His awards include IDSA Gold, IDSA Silver, iF Product Design Awards, D&AD Product Design Awards and International Design Award, as well as nominations for the British Design Awards and the Homes & Gardens Designer Awards.

About Sky Arts 

Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room.   

We have something for everyone, championing creative talent by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, literature, opera and visual art. From Glyndebourne to Grime and Cézanne to The Style Council, we’ve got your passions covered. Millions of viewers tune in to hit returning series such as Portrait Artist of the Year, Urban Myths and British cultural institution The South Bank Show, but our acclaimed new programmes might take you anywhere from Pinter’s house with Danny Dyer to a Scottish road trip with Samuel Johnson.    

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK, and we work with cultural partners across the country including the English National Opera, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, Creative Industries Federation and Coventry City of Culture to name but a few.   

You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147.  If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.    

We’re passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, so we’re working with five leading Sky Arts Ambassadors - Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, dance artist Akram Khan, conductor Charles Hazlewood, Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall, and sculptor Anish Kapoor – to run bursary schemes for new and emerging talent.  

About NOW

NOW is the home of brilliant entertainment. We’re one of the UK’s leading streaming services with critically acclaimed shows, new and exclusive movies, unmissable sport and epic kids TV – all with no contract. Join in with an Entertainment, Cinema, Sports, or hayu Membership to stream instantly across TV, mobile, desktop and over 60 other devices. Watch on the go and even offline with our app by downloading shows and movies.

Entertainment Members can enjoy critically acclaimed dramas, documentaries and comedies, Emmy award-winning shows, the best of HBO and exclusive Sky Originals. Cinema Members can discover over 1000 brilliant movies, from the latest blockbusters and classic favourites and a new premiere every day. Sports Members cheer on unmissable Premier League, international cricket, F1, golf and more – all live, across 11 Sky Sports channels.

Plus, members can enhance their experience with NOW Boost – that’s full 1080p HD, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and streaming on up to 3 devices at once, ad-free in VOD.

For super-fast broadband, members can enjoy a contract-free connection with a NOW Brilliant Broadband, Fab Fibre or Super Fibre Membership.

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