Window dresser, published author, fashion commentator, amateur astrologer, podcast host—there’s not much that Simon Doonan can’t do. His latest gig on NBC’s new show Making It adds a new job to his impressive CV: DIY judge. The show, from executive producers and hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, celebrates creativity and craftiness in a lighthearted competition series. Each of the competition series’s six episodes focuses on unique themes for projects that test makers from around the country, who vie to impress the hosts and judges, Doonan and Dayna Isom Johnson. Below, we pick Mr. Doonan’s brain about his experience on the show.
The Window: How did you get involved with Making It?
Simon Doonan: Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, the hosts of the show, were scouring the universe looking for two judges, and I got the call. I was born with a glue gun in one hand and a staple gun in the other, and my window displays have always had a very crafty vibe. My signature style uses hokey techniques like decoupage and macramé and papier-mâché, and found objects. My fellow judge is the fabulous Dayna Isom Johnson, the whip-smart trend ambassador for Etsy. She serves major hairdos and loads of fashion.
What was it like working with Amy and Nick?
They were brutally sadistic, and they tortured us, mentally and physically, every day on the set. JUST KIDDING! They are the sweetest, funniest, kindest people. Exactly what you would expect, only more so. And they have a genuine, heartfelt passion for crafting. Nick is a couture woodworker, and Amy, though not crafty herself, is on a crafting mission. She wants to make the world a better place by spreading the glue-gun gospel—#lifeenhancing.
What was the most fun or surprising thing about filming the show?
This show is not like any other. It’s a fabulous combo of hilarity and genuine emotion. Not only do you get to learn useful, crafty stuff, but you also get insight into the backstories of the contestants.
On a scale from one to Simon Cowell, what kind of judge were you?
Amy and Nick made it clear from the get-go that there would be no fake conflict or artificial drama and no shady takedowns. Crafting already has its own frenzy and drama—no need to fake anything.
Did you channel any of your experience doing the iconic Barneys New York windows while you were on set?
Yaasss! I felt like I was back in the display studio, surrounded by props, felt, and chicken wire. And, of course, glitter!!
Who is more DIY around your house, you or Jonathan?
I could never match JA in the ceramics department. He creates such exquisite pieces. I am more sloppy and gloppy. However, I am much better at DIY. I know my way around a toolbox. Pass me that Phillips screwdriver, would you?
What advice would you give anyone out there trying to “make it”?
Throw any self-critical impulses out of the window. Making is all about uninhibited self-expression. Nobody is keeping score. Making it is about the joy of creativity.
Making It premiers July 31 on NBC, 10 p.m. / 9 p.m. CT right after America’s Got Talent.