The Jakarta Post
Hard work: The contestants must work hard to execute their visions. (Sony Channel/File)
The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition, dubbed Asia’s biggest interior design show, has won the hearts of television viewers across the region. Aired by Sony Channel and AXN, the show has entered its third episode since premiering in mid-March, and features 12 up-and-coming interior designers as contestants.
Participants must compete against each other at a housing complex in Malaysia to become the show’s top interior designer and earn the title of Asia’s “next style superstar,” which also comes with US$100,000 in prize money.
The contestants come from various backgrounds, with some having had formal training in interior design, and others boasting “street-smarts” and passion for the field.
“This show is a perfect blend of high-octane drama and highly ambitious contestants,” said Virginia Lim, Sony Pictures Television Networks Asia senior vice president and head of content, production and marketing.
Malaysia, as the host country, has sent two of its designers — Ernest Loh and Winston See — to compete in the show.
The battle zone: A housing complex in Malaysia becomes a battle zone for 12 aspiring designers to showcase their skills and ideas in The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition.(Sony Channel/File)
Loh portrays himself as an architect who is very eager to showcase his interior design skills and ideas, while See is an avid fan of the popular Sims game.
From Singapore comes Paul Nagaoka, a hunky and handsome actor with no interior design background and whose entrepreneurial journey consists of developing a real estate company in the United States. Sadly, despite his passion for interior design, Nagaoka was the first contestant to be eliminated from the show.
Vietnam-based Polish model Aleksandra Flasz has no formal training in interior design, but is a fashion designer and a painter. She showcases her painting skills during the show by decorating walls to give rooms a much-needed artistic touch.
Indonesia is represented by Khaled Mahallati, who is of Middle-Eastern descent but was born and raised in Denmark.
Khaled demonstrates the most streetsmarts of all the contestants. At the age of 19, he stirred up so much trouble as “the black sheep” of his family that his father decided to buy him a one-way ticket to Bali to start working for a furniture company and learn to be independent.
After three years, Khaled decided to go solo and open an interior design company of his own. Today, he has completed over 30 projects around the world, ranging from consultations to complete interior design projects.
Khaled proves his dependability on the show by tackling heavy workloads with skill and determination.
Representing Australia are Beck Kowalski, Ben Woodbury and Ally Marrote. Kowalski is a real estate agent who also works as a stylist and an interior designer, Woodbury has already proven his skills as a designer by becoming a finalist in a competition called the ACE Design Awards, while Marrote is an entrepreneur who wants to showcase how interior design has inspired her.
Chilean-born Andres Luer competes in The Apartment representing his Chinabased interior design company. Formally educated in Italy, Luer aims to showcase his ideas for sustainable interior design.
The remaining contestants include Kamille Nassif, a Brazilian model and actress based in Thailand; Cara Ditta-in, a manager of one of Thailand’s largest nightclubs; and Natalya Punto, a radio disc jockey from the Philippines.
Every week, participants face an elimination phase during which their performances are monitored by a panel of judges led by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, a British interior designer whose work in similar television shows dates back to 1995, when he hosted Changing Rooms on the BBC.
Bring it on: Twelve designers from across the globe compete for US$100,000 in prize money in The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition.(Sony Channel/File)
Throughout The Apartment, LlewelynBowen portrays a Simon Cowell-like character in the sense that he holds nothing back in delivering his criticisms with a delightful mix of comical and witty narratives, allowing contestants to realize what they could have done better without being too overly intimidated by Llewelyn-Bowen’s stature and persona.
In addition to Llewelyn-Bowen, the judging panel also includes American furniture designer Genevieve Gorder and interior designer Jamie Durie, whose works include some of the world’s best hotels. Durie also serves as host of the show and a mentor for the contestants. He promised fans that this season of The Apartment will be filled with drama and will pull viewers into the exciting world of interior design.
“The contestants get very up close and personal. So, it is a really interesting show, because although the whole thing is wrapped around design, there’s a lot of emotions that play out every single week,” Durie told reporters during his recent visit to Jakarta.