BBC Interior Design Masters: my take on the Salisbury episode

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The BBC Interior Design Masters design show has long been a favorite of my family. So when a recent show in the current series took place in Salisbury, my daughters and I had two reasons to watch it.

In this recent episode, designers were tasked with revamping three independent boutiques in Salisbury: Just Jane, Brides by Victoria and Casa Fina.

It’s always nice to see a place you know on TV and especially nice to see Salisbury being just, well, Salisbury, without any spy being poisoned.

As reality shows go, Interior Design Masters is on the softer end of the spectrum: the contestants are all friendly and supportive of each other and the judges are also constructive and eager to say how everything the world is fine.


Read more: Inside Salisbury shops that have had a BBC revamp


In fact, the only polite note of tension in the program concerned the makeover of the Casa Fina home goods store.

One of the contestants, Dee, suggested changing the store’s color scheme. Owner Susi Mason replied that the walls had been white for 38 years, choosing a more neutral scheme instead.

Later, when the judges, Michelle Ogundehin and Mary Portas, visited the store, they criticized the makeover as too safe.

“I think it’s a company that’s been around for a long time and made a little update,” was Portas’ opinion.

The owner of Casa Fina, on the other hand, was delighted with what the designers had done. “We love our new look. It works so well for us,’ Mason told the Salisbury Journal last week.

So how much change is the change?

Mary Portas and Susi Mason approach the subject from opposite angles in the evolution vs. revolution debate: the Casa Fina school is more gradual, all about accompaniment to its current audience; Mary Portas’ model, on the other hand, is more radical, suggesting different ideas for reaching new customers.

In life, as in store design, change is part of the process.

One of the books I use when teaching novel writing is Will Storr’s The Science of Storytelling, which defines plot and narrative as “a symphony of change.”

In the film Annie Hall, Woody Allen describes a relationship as a shark: “it must constantly move forward, otherwise it dies”.

No time of year is more conducive to change and reboot than spring.

This is true from nature coming out of hibernation to the yearly thirst for spring cleaning.

Coming out of Covid, that sense of refreshment is stronger than normal this year.

It’s a process to adopt rather than to be nervous: as the American philosopher Sheryl Crow pointed out, a change will do you good.

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