Two with isle ties make the cut to com­pete for $100,000 in“Ellen’s Design Chal­lenge”

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - TODAY - By Nadine Kam nkam@starad­ver­

9 p.m. Mon­days on HGTV

Two de­sign­ers with Hawaii ties are vy­ing for the top spot in the sec­ond sea­son of HGTV’s “Ellen’s Design Chal­lenge,” hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

Miles Endo and Melissa Rivera Tor­res were among 10 con­tes­tants se­lected from about 600 ap­pli­cants for a shot at the show’s $100,000 cash prize. Although shoot­ing has ended, both must keep the out­come se­cret un­til the show’s March 7 fi­nale. (The first episode aired Monday.)

The pro­gram marks Rivera Tor­res’ sec­ond time on a design re­al­ity show. In 2012 she ap­peared on HGTV’s “White Room Chal­lenge,” a spinoff se­ries from the net­work’s “Design Star” com­pe­ti­tion. She came in sec­ond place, fall­ing short be­cause she didn’t use enough candy dur­ing a candy chal­lenge that had the de­sign­ers cre­at­ing a bed­room suit­able for chil­dren.

This time around, she said, “I didn’t think I was go­ing to make it be­cause it came at an awk­ward time in my life.”

Born and raised in Mex­ico City, she earned a de­gree in in­dus­trial design from the Rhode Is­land School of Design in 2001. She moved to Hawaii in 2006 to teach art and graphic design. While here, Rivera Tor­res, 36, opened Un­leash Stu­dio to pro­vide design ser­vices rang­ing from lo­gos to >> Sec­ond sea­son for “Ellen’s Design Chal­lenge.” T-shirts, fur­ni­ture and in­te­rior design.

Last year she moved to Lit­tle Rock, Ark., and eight months later was in the midst of a road-trip move from Arkansas to Cal­i­for­nia when word came that she had made it onto “Ellen’s Design Chal­lenge.”

“I was pass­ing by Ve­gas and thought I could take a break and chill, but they gave us home­work. This was not my nor­mal. I didn’t have a stu­dio. I had to go to Wal­greens to get some­thing to draw.”

That home­work turned out to be the first chal­lenge in a cast­ing spe­cial that sent Rivera Tor­res to the bot­tom three for a pin­wheel cof­fee ta­ble that judge Chris­tiane Lemieux saw as a po­ten­tial trip­ping hazard. The de­signer re­deemed her­self dur­ing a fi­nal chal­lenge with her design of a child’s sail­boat chair, and two of the other de­sign­ers went home.

MEAN­WHILE, Endo breezed through the cast­ing episode by mak­ing a so­cial-grill ta­ble based on the yakiniku con­cept. He cre­ated a pic­nic ta­ble with a grill run­ning its en­tire length so no one per­son would be sad­dled with cook­ing chores


“Ellen’s Design Chal­lenge”

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