NEW YORK (AP) — For most of us, the word "chair" probably brings to mind a single, universal image signifying the totality of chair-ness. Same with the idea of "table" or "bed."
But the fact is, the range of chairs, tables, beds and other furnishings is limitless and ever-growing, always inspiring further innovations.
Anyone doubting that is welcome to tune into "Ellen's Design Challenge," which returns for its second season Monday at 9 p.m. EST on HGTV.
"How many more ways are there to make a coffee table? How many more ways are there to make a chair?" poses Ellen DeGeneres. "Design Challenge" promises to shed light on those questions.
DeGeneres — who says, "I love anything that goes in a house, including the house itself" — hatched the idea for this design competition, which will showcase 10 candidates (up from six last year). They will sketch, design and build innovative furniture with the hope of outlasting their rivals and, at the end, receiving the $100,000 prize.
On every episode, these competitors will face new design challenges as each is paired with an expert carpenter to fulfill that week's assignment. Maybe they're required to make a certain type of furniture. Maybe they're limited to certain materials. Then their creations are evaluated by a panel of judges, with the field of competitors continually narrowing.
"It's got the drama of their having to come up with ideas while trying to make a deadline," says DeGeneres, who will make the occasional surprise appearance, but, as executive producer, mostly watches with great interest from off-screen.
"My passion is design," she says, which is how she came up with "Design Challenge."
"Some of the designs on the show are functional as a piece of furniture, and some of it is art," she notes. The same as in her home: "Some of my favorite chairs are not really comfortable, but I love the design of them. It's not going to be in my living room to actually invite guests to sit on, but it's going to be an object I love having on display."
No doubt the judges will be tested along with each designer, as they size up each creation for both its form and its function.
DeGeneres promises, in Ellen fashion, that this season will be "bigger, better and armoire-ier," and adds, "It's an eye-opening experience to realize the amount of talent out there that didn't get exposure until this show."