Ellen’s Design Challenge: Meet Kyle

updated Dec 19, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Courtesy Kyle Huntoon)

Name: Kyle Huntoon
City: Deetroit, MI

Style: I design and build furniture that combines elements of mid-century modern design with traditional joinery techniques. I strive to create designs that are understated, and carefully considered in their construction and functionality. As far as my personal style goes, I am a simple guy; Detroit Denim jeans, a t-shirt and my Danner work boots.

(Image credit: Courtesy Kyle Huntoon)

Carpenter paired with: Ali Azhar & Matt Muenster

When did you realize you had potential in furniture design?

I realized that I had the potential to pursue furniture design in early 2012 when I was contacted by the DIY Network to have one of my designs included in the Man Caves show. At the time I was making industrial modern designs from upcycled materials and they were building out an industrial modern room for Jenna Wolfe’s [of the Today Show] father. At the time I had just gotten into designing and building furniture and was still working full time as a civil engineer. That event was the reassurance that I needed to take the leap and pursue design, which had always been a huge passion of mine, as a profession.

What are your design strengths?

My design strengths are in my ability to recognize proportions, and when to know when to stop designing. I think a lot of people tend to overdesign or embellish, and I think a strong designer knows when to stop and let their piece speak for itself. Beyond that, I think my knowledge of materials, wood in particular, helps me to create furniture that will stand the test of time in both utility and design.

(Image credit: Courtesy Kyle Huntoon)

What are your design weaknesses?

I am a self-taught designer, and all of the other competitors on Ellen’s Design Challenge were formally trained at the top design schools on the country. To some that may be looked at as a weakness, but I think it makes me more of a wild card!

How did you end up auditioning for Ellen’s Design Challenge?

I actually didn’t audition, they found me! I was elated when I got the call and at first thought it was a prank. Once I started going through the process and the field of potential designers narrowed, I was anxious to find out if I would be picked. When I got the call from Ellen I was so excited and grateful to have this once in a lifetime opportunity. I am on reality TV, that’s so crazy!

(Image credit: Courtesy Kyle Huntoon)

Which challenge from last season would you have loved to compete in? Which one would you pass on?

I have always been into repurposing and upcycling materials and I think the “From Trash to Treasure” challenge would’ve been right up my alley. I love taking things and transforming them into pieces that change people’s perspective on the marriage of recycling and design.

I would pass on the “Contain your Enthusiasm” challenge, because I don’t think it gave the designers enough of a creative outlet to explore interesting new forms.

On a scale of 1 to 5 sweater vests, how amazing is Ellen in person?

My experience meeting Ellen was exactly as I thought; she was warm and funny and super sweater-y. I give her the full 5 sweater vests plus a crisp pair of skinny selvedge denim jeans.

Episode eliminated: Episode 6 — Exit interview

Thanks, Kyle! Watch him compete on Ellen’s Design Challenge, Mondays at 9|8c on HGTV!