In the series premiere of Ellen's Design Challenge, 6 furniture designers from all over America arrive at a workshop where they meet their carpenters and receive a gift from Ellen that they must transform into their first piece of furniture. During the build tensions run high between one of the designers and her carpenter while another designer struggles to fix a structural flaw before time runs out. Series judges, Christiane Lemieux and Amanda Dameron are joined by world renowned furniture manufacturer, Jason Chauncey as they critique the designers' creations and decide who will be the first one to go home.
The designers take a field trip to a storage facility where one-by-one they pick storage pods filled with different household items that they must build furniture to contain. Most of the designers are happy with their items, but a twist sends one designer back to the drawing board. Back at the workshop, Ellen shows the designers one of her favorite pieces of furniture, Carley struggles to decide on a design, and Katie has a setback with one of the tools that shreds an important part of her piece. At the judging ceremony, Amanda and Christiane are joined by interior designer to the stars, Cliff Fong, who helps them judge the furniture and make the tough decision to send another designer home.
The designers get a delicious reward from Ellen before learning about their next challenge. During the build two of the designers fight after the same piece of exotic hardwood while another designer's piece starts to take on an animalistic look. At the judging ceremony, Ellen helps the judges make a tough decision. But a surprise from Ellen sends the designers reeling.
Unaware of their next challenge, the designers arrive at the shop where they discover what they will have to build next. During the build one of the designers is forced to change their design while another makes a costly measuring mistake that forces them to make a tough decision. At the judging ceremony, the designers receive mixed reviews in the toughest critique yet.
The designers are given one hour to race through a salvage yard to find items to make their furniture. Back at the shop, some of the designers discover that the material they have collected is not up to par, while one of the designers carpenter teams is not on the same page. At judging, everything is on the line as the final three discover which two will go on to the finale.
The final two designers are taken to a special location where they learn what their last challenge is. During the build both designers have a hard time deciding on a design. At the final judging, Ellen reveals a surprise to the designers. And after Ellen reveals the winning designer a shocking twist surprises everybody.
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