UCOL | Te Pūkenga Furniture Design graduate Leilani Krans-Tunnage has been putting her skills to the test on the TVNZ show Design Junkies.
Design Junkies takes six New Zealand designers and tasks them with completing specified projects over two days. The contestant with the most points at the end of the season wins a trip to the internationally-acclaimed Milan Furniture Fair.
Leilani, who owns the furniture and product design company Designpilot, joined the show after being head-hunted by a producer.
She made a great start, winning the first challenge: constructing the ultimate coffee table from salvaged materials.
Leilani says it was an amazing experience to be on the show.
“It’s almost like going back to study again in that you’re given a task, you’re given the tools and the resources, and you just have to make something work. Not having the pressure of designing to a specific person’s wants was cool.”
Leilani says it was tough to have only 30 minutes to choose her materials and plan her projects for each challenge.
“You don’t even know where you’re going. You walk in and they give you the design brief, and they’re like ‘Go’. You’re designing while you’re sourcing your materials. It was really intimidating.”
Leilani says her UCOL | Te Pūkenga training was invaluable on the show, and she credits lecturers Andy Halewood and Rowan Dicks.
“Andy gave me amazing technical grounding during my first year, and Rowan furthered it and really pushed me in the design area; he got me thinking about different concepts and ways of doing things. Those guys were absolutely instrumental in the skills I picked up in my time at UCOL | Te Pūkenga, which were directly influencing what I did on the programme.”
Leilani built her winning coffee table from old bed headboards, however, it wasn’t smooth sailing. She found timber-eating borer in the wood near the end of the first day and had to find a way to alter her design.
“I’m not lying when I say I’m a bit of a perfectionist. That’s something that Rowan instilled in me. We don’t like selling or giving people sub-standard stuff. It really bothered me when I found the borer and I just had to find a way of getting around that.”
Leilani says there was good comradery between the contestants, and she was able to pick up some graphics and metalwork skills from the others.
You can watch Leilani on Design Junkies 7.30pm Thursdays on TVNZ 1.
Image above: Leilani in her workshop.