Genevieve Gorder, Vern Yip and Candice Olson are back on the judging panel, but expect some changes as "Design Star" begins its sixth season Monday, July 11, on HGTV.
Tanika Ray ("HGTV'd") joins the hit reality series as host of these new episodes, and HGTV favorite David Bromstad also is on hand as mentor to the contestants, something that's helpful to both the stressed-out designers and the judges trying to evaluate their work, says Gorder.
"You know how 'Project Runway' has Tim Gunn? I think even more so in a competition like this, having someone who can talk to you about the medium of television is so necessary," she explains. "If (the contestants) can't communicate on television their personality, a natural ease, a genuine quality about themselves along with their design, people are not going to want to watch them, regardless of how good the design itself is. And you can't train a genuine quality or personality. We find out about that more quickly with a coach than we would if we just saw them on the judging platform."
Additionally, this season features a rotating roster of high-profile guest judges for individual challenges, including designer and talk show host Nate Berkus, former "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" designer Thom Filicia, Food Network superstar Paula Deen, and entrepreneur Kathy Ireland.
"I think the rotating cast of guest judges gives us some new points of view that are really fun for us as a panel," Gorder says. "Usually their expertise is lined up with a particular challenge, and it makes for a lively conversation every week."
As for the 12 contestants vying for their own HGTV series, they range in age from 30 to 44 and include a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and a former broadcast news reporter.
"The talent just keeps raising the bar every year," Gorder says. "I know I always say this, but it really is true: This is the most talented group we've ever had on the show."
Changes afoot as 'HGTV Design Star' begins sixth season
Candice Olson, Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip (from left)