‘Design Star: Next Gen’ returns on Discovery+ with Atlantan Justin Q. Williams

The last time the show aired on HGTV was 2013.

Credit: Mark Von Holden

Credit: Mark Von Holden

“Design Star” was a popular HGTV reality competition staple from 2006 to 2013, but HGTV shifted its focus on that time to flipping homes, negating the need for folks who were solely design experts.

The show did generate one big HGTV star: season one winner David Bromstad, who ended up as mentor in 2012 and 2013 — and hosts “My Lottery Dream Home” for the network.

Now the show is back eight years later under the title “Design Star: Next Gen,” but it will live on the new streaming service Discovery+, debuting at 9 p.m. Wednesday. (HGTV will air just the first episode at that time to promote the streaming service.)

Atlanta resident Justin Q. Williams is one of eight designers seeking the title, $50,000 and a show on the streaming service. He actually tried out for the original show nearly a decade ago but didn’t make it.

Now at age 32, he said he’s ready. Here is a basic bio:

Name: Justin Q. Williams

Instagram tag: @justinqwilliams

Interior design firm: Trademark Design Company

Residence: Stockbridge

High school: Eagles Landing High School

College: Bethune Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Florida (but didn’t graduate)

History: Began drawing floor plans at age 12, so his dad Otis Brooks purchased him some CAD programs. At age 13, he created a home renovation plan, which his dad handed over to the contractor Robert Perry. Perry asked his dad what professional architect created it and was pleasantly surprised it came from a teenager. Justin began working with Perry and did so throughout high school. In college, he embraced interior design and at age 19, quit school to start his own firm. He moved back to Atlanta and became a youth counselor at a Buckhead church while he built his interior design business. He decorated his aunt’s apartment unit and got business via word of mouth. He soon became a full-time designer, and now in any given year, he will work with 25 to 30 clients.

Getting on the show: “I feel completely validated now. Television, for me, is to help people. That’s always been my mantra. Interior design is a luxury service. This enables people to learn interior design who can’t afford an interior designer.”

Why “Design Star”? He enjoys teaching and doing panels. This show enables him to hone his ability to craft a message for TV or social media, which has grown in importance since the original show ended. Besides traditional word of mouth, he now gets a lot of his clientele from social media, mostly Instagram.

His design aesthetic: “It’s penthouse panache. It’s an elevated take on transitional design, a mix of modern and traditional. For instance, I’ll take an antique chest and pair it with a modern platform bed. To make it work, it’s all about scale, composition and color.”

How “Design Star: Next Gen” adjusted to COVID-19: The producers built out a space for the show in an isolated ranch area. Since they couldn’t hold actual challenges in people’s homes, they built tiny homes for each contestant to use. With frequent testing, the contestants were able to eat together and stayed at the same resort. Wayfair created a space full of furniture and accessories just for the competitors.

Credit: Rob Pryce/Lando Entertainment

Credit: Rob Pryce/Lando Entertainment

The host: Allison Holker Boss, who is actually a dancer by trade and appeared as a competitor on “So You Think You Can Dance” and a professional dancer on “Dancing With the Stars.” She’s married to fellow dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss.

Other judges: Jonathan Adler (who is the closest to a Simon Cowell on the show when it comes to blunt critiques) and Lauren Makk.


“Design Star: Next Gen,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 on Discovery+ and HGTV. (Subsequent episodes will be available only on Discovery+)