Shaynna Blaze talks deadline design
Photo credit: Foxtel / Gina Milicia

Blaze of glory: An interview with Shaynna Blaze of Deadline Design


Shaynna Blaze discusses the demands of deadlines and design— and her new show, Deadline Design.

If there’s one thing Australians love, it’s sitting on the couch and watching others work themselves to the bone to perform dramatic transformations. This is by no means genre specific; it can be people changing their bodies or turning boring ingredients into culinary masterpieces, but boy do we have a soft spot for home renovations, and the woman leading this obsession is Shaynna Blaze.

The reality renovation renaissance has many incarnations, but with Shaynna at the helm of three, one of which is Foxtel’s money maker, she’s the undeniable queen – and she almost didn’t even make it to the small screen.

After design school, Shaynna completed a writing course and focused her efforts on writing about design in magazines and newspapers. Then, a tiny ad for a TV show popped up in a design newsletter. “I answered it off the cuff and it was just like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll apply for that’,” says Shaynna. “I’d set up my business in an office, I had staff – I was very focused on what I was doing in my business, so to do that was a very left-of-field-type thing. I didn’t think I’d get it.”

Since answering that obscure ad 10 years ago for Selling Houses Australia, Shaynna has gone from a “deer in headlights in front of the camera” to a seasoned professional – at one point, Shaynna was filming three TV shows all at the same time. “I do all of the design on Selling Houses Australia and Deadline Design, so it’s definitely a lot of work,” confesses Shaynna.

Sometimes I’ll make decisions really fast for people on TV, but in the real world people want to think about it. In reality, the process is a lot longer, and that’s not a bad thing
Her new show Deadline Design explores the real world as a designer. It showcases what designers do, what they go through and how they approach it with clients with deadlines more in touch with reality – three to six months rather than a week. “Not everyone’s going to love what I do because it’s working within the brief of the client, and it should be because it’s their home,” she explains. “Even if I do a design that’s not something you would choose, if you can see the process it took to get there, then everyone can take something away from it.”

The beauty of Deadline Design is its commitment to portraying the realities of interior design. With many renovation shows preferring to focus on what’s possible in a week, the public’s expectations have drastically changed in terms of timelines. Through her business Blank Canvas, she’s no stranger to the conflicting paces of builders, councils and clients. “Sometimes I’ll make decisions really fast for people on TV, but in the real world, people want to think about it. In reality, the process is a lot longer, and that’s not a bad thing,” she says.

One of the hardest aspects of interior design is separating your own personal style and preferences from your client’s brief, but that’s the part Shaynna enjoys most. “I love the challenge of me trying to do their brief, because most of the styles aren’t the kind of styles I’d have in my own home, so it’s me trying to transform who I am for them,” she gushes. “It’s one of those jobs where I wake up every day and feel like I get to do something different.” That doesn’t mean she’ll completely succumb to the client’s ideas, though. “I will voice my concerns if certain clients are saying ‘I want this’ and’ I want that’,” she clarifies. “That’s when they ask for my expertise – whether I should be pushing them harder or restraining what they want to do.”

Although the shows are winding down for the silly season, no one needs to worry about Shaynna slowing down any time soon. “I would find not being challenged very, very hard. I think if my business or TV work eases up, there will always be a challenge out there because I’ll always be looking for something that pushes me.”

Shaynna Blaze’s Deadline Design is on Wednesdays on the Lifestyle Channel, Foxtel