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A cure for existential ennui: The Great Interior Design Challenge

As it turns out, not much is more soothing than watching people hang up strange wallpapers and reupholster chairs and sofas.


The King’s day aftermath is usually one of great hangovers, mild depression and gloriously disgusting weather. After a day of celebrating in towns painted in one of the most unflattering colors of all time -who looks good in orange??!- with indecent amounts of beer, it is finally time to go back to our realities of dreaded office hours and rain. Speaking of which, a friend of mine recently told me that for the occasion the Dutch might be spraying the sky with some sort of strange chemical that’s able to dissolve the clouds – so, excuse me while I wear my tinfoil hat and look at the sky with great suspicion. Beyond conspiracy theories, not much has been able to bring solace and comfort to my existence other than my beloved Netflix account. But Claudia, you might ask, what is going to take me away from my deadlines all the while inspiring a sense of calm and comfort in my heart?

Fear not, friend. I have got the right show for you.

The Great Interior Design Challenge
Meet The Great Interior Design Challenge, a recent addition to Dutch Netflix catalogue. As the name might suggest to you already, the show is some sort of posher, swanky cousin of the Great British Bake Off, entirely focused on Interior Design. If that does not make your heart flutter, honestly, just go back to watching The Walking Dead or something. But back to us: four amateur interior designers have three days to redesign and decorate a room, with a budget of only a thousand pounds. They are judged by two posh interior designers who look so much like your stereotypical rendition of an interior designer it is actually delightful. Sophie matches wildly colored dressed with even wilder tights – Orange tights! Girl is feeling the oranje spirit for sure-, while Daniel wears his salt and pepper hair in a swanky haircut with an even swankier pair of glasses. In each episode, the two judges spend half of the time being flabbergasted at the atrocious creations of their crafty contestants, which makes you question how these guys even got to be selected in the first place. It’s delightful, really.

The two judges spend half of the time being flabbergasted at the atrocious creations of their crafty contestants, which makes you question how these guys even got to be selected in the first place

The thing I find most relaxing about the show is probably its formulaic structure. Every episode is the same. Kinda like in Friends. First, the contestants present the designs to sceptical homeowners, then they are judged on their presentation skills. In the middle of the episode you will see the contestants struggling against time as they reupholster chairs and sofas and hang up strange wallpapers. The episode ends with an elimination.

Peaceful and mesmerizing entertainment
Beyond the formulaic structure and the overtly polite but extremely sassy judgments, what I love the most about this show is the act of watching something being created while doing absolutely nothing. You could compare it to an ASMR video of sorts, just more sophisticated and with far more characters and less weird noises. You can turn your brain off as you watch all white rooms turn into colorful clashes of wallpapers and fabrics, all set in pretty houses, and with very nice people. There are no twists or surprises, no antagonists, or weird shady noises -I’m looking at you Drag Race. It’s all calm, and mesmerizingly entertaining. And isn’t this just what we might need this week as we our looking for something peaceful yet fun to watch?

There’s enough to stress about in this world, and when you get overly invested in literally anything happening around you like me –picture me biting my nails this weekend as I watched the finale of La Casa de Papel –, your brain might use a little peaceful entertainment. So if you’re in search of your will to live or be productive this week, or if you’re still recovering from a roaring King’s day weekend, do yourself a favor and start thinking about wallpapers and upholstery.

Cover: Donnie Ray Jones/Pixabay / Final editor: Iris Ausems

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