Ellen's Design Challenge: Did Tim Cheat?

Ellen's Design Challenge: Did Tim Cheat?

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Jennifer Hunter
Mar 4, 2015
(Image credit: HGTV)

You know we're not done talking about this show quite yet. If you've been watching along with me, you know that the last five minutes of the finale left us with a huge twist: winner Tim was disqualified due to some troubling similarities between his winning desk and the work of European designer Simon Schacht. If you haven't seen the two desks in question, I took some pictures of my TV so let's talk about it.

(Image credit: Screen grab HGTV)
(Image credit: Screen grab HGTV)

Knowing what I know about Tim (which, let's face it, is practically nothing) I just can't see him intentionally ripping off another designer's work, yet, the two desks are eerily similar. So let's think about it logically.

It's Tim's final chance to win this show. He can do ANYTHING which, as we all know, often leaves you paralyzed by choice (and Tim was something of a procrastinator anyway). There's major pressure to perform so did he 1) think back, remember a cool, rustic design he once saw by another, not-too- famous designer and decide to just try and slip this by everyone? Or 2) wrack his brain and visualize a pile of wood with a desk inside and just think he had a brilliant idea all his own?

Memory is a shifty thing. Just look at the recent Brian Williams scandal. I think we've all had stories told to us so often (or told ourselves stories) that we mistakenly think they're real. For most of us, the stakes aren't as high as for Brian and Tim. Lucky for us, we're not scrutinized all the time. But Tim knew he was being judged and by furniture experts. I just can't see him deciding to copy an idea, at the very least simply because he could so easily get caught. Which he did.

My friend who works in Hollywood refers to this as "the ether." You know how suddenly there will be four different movies coming out all focused on the same or weirdly similar topics? You can chalk some of that up to studios competing with each other for a piece of the "asteroid disaster audience" or whatever the trending themes are, but often it just comes down to something in the air. Something about the current culture and season and timing just gives multiple people the same idea. It's in the ether.

Then there's the fact that a desk is essentially a top and four legs with some drawers. There are a finite number of combinations of those things and sooner or later, they're bound to start repeating. Go ahead and do a Google image search of any piece of furniture and you will turn up a shocking number of VERY similar items. A lot of that is due to copycatting and some is coincidence.

So, final answer: I don't know because I'm not Tim. He might not even know. But I would hate for a talented designer like him to be ruined because of this show.

Now I'm really curious to know what you think. Did Tim cheat?

Here's how the whole show went down:

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