Any reality competition show worth watching has its own particular way of telling would-be winners to take a hike. Some are primly polite (“Please pack up your knives and go” from “Top Chef”), some cutting (“You’re fired!” bellows
"Framework," Spike TV's new series pitting budding furniture designers against one another for a chance to win $100,000 and have their work featured at CB2, features a short but effective get-lost mantra: "You're finished." Growled by a steely eyed Common, the hip-hop artist-actor who serves as host, the result can be devastating, as witnessed by the tears sprung on the first few episodes.
"I'm a naturally critical person," said Brandon Gore, the owner/founder of Gore Design Company, who specializes in concrete designs and serves as one of the series' two judges. "I'm constantly judging furniture -- at the coffee shop, in a store, at somebody's house, everywhere. So I'm not going to mince words on the show. Yeah, the truth hurts, but I'm giving [the contestants] a road map to winning $100,000, so it's my job to be honest. Love is caring!"
"Our show is very kind of cut to the chase -- there's no sugar coating," said fellow judge Nolen Niu, the Los Angeles-based designer and owner of an eponymous furniture company. "But I wouldn't say it's harsh; I think the competitors actually valued our opinions and took a lot of our advice to heart."
As for why Common agreed to serve as host, the Oscar nominee (for his song "Glory" from "Selma") said it's not as odd as it seems: "I relate to pursuing a dream, having challenges when it comes to reaching that dream and somehow making it to your goals."
For both of the judges, "Framework" provides an opportunity to interact with, and maybe even influence, builders and designers who handcraft their own work. "I think the maker movement is just going to get bigger," Niu said. "As a designer, I'm doing a lot of custom pieces for people who want the quality and the longevity of furniture that can be handed down from generation to generation and become an heirloom."
"To be honest, judges hardly get paid anything the first season of a series," said Gore, who also has an online store and does workshops in concrete technique. "But the opportunity to bring craftsmanship to the forefront, to make it the next big thing in design? That's worthwhile. That's what I care about more than anything. I'm very particular about quality -- even fanatical. I always tell [the contestants], 'Make one beautiful piece that will last forever.'"