Adam Kingman didn’t think he’d be selected for NBC’s “Making It” reality TV show, but thanks to some encouraging words from his sister, he decided to apply anyway. Not only was the industrial designer and creative director selected as one of the 10 participants for season three, but he was named the winner on Thursday, Aug. 26., walking away with a $100,000 prize.
A self-proclaimed modern-day MacGyver, Kingman uses recycled and end-of-life materials to create simple and intuitive solutions. The mountains of Lake Tahoe were his playground growing up, influencing his stewardship of the planet and resourcefulness of craft. “It always saddened me to throw away things that had nothing wrong with them and that were still functional,” Kingman tells Scrap News. “I’m drawn to the familiarity and resourcefulness of recycled materials. I also want to keep materials out of landfills.”
Growing up, Kingman was fascinated by objects and spaces. “I’d walk into a house, a restaurant, a space of any sort, and I would just observe. These spaces and their unique designs always fascinated me,” he says. He always envisioned being an architect, but that changed his freshman year at the University of Washington in Seattle. He had space in his schedule for an elective course, so he decided to take an intro to design class. Once he stepped into the first class, he knew he was destined for a different career path. “As soon as I got in the room, saw the syllabus and the projects for that semester, and saw how the professor presented and laid everything out, I fell in love,” he says. “The questions I had always had about why things felt good to me, or why they felt off, were suddenly being answered in this class.” Kingman went on to graduate with a degree in industrial design.
During the pandemic, Kingman was introduced to “Making It” by the same sister who suggested he audition for it. The show assembles some of the most talented makers from across the country and challenges them to take on a variety of handmade projects. Contestants must impress hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, as well as expert judges Simon Doonan and Dayna Isom Johnson. Every episode revolves around a central theme that draws inspiration from popular nationwide trends in crafting and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects.
Kingman was instantly drawn to the show, citing his appreciation not only for the competition itself, but also the executive producers and hosts, Poehler and Offerman. Kingman describes his time on the show as “incredible.” The best part of his experience, he says, was being surrounded by all the different minds who approach the same problem in their respective, unique ways. “It was such a rad little utopia of brains and creative hands. Imagine sharing a studio with 10 incredibility distinct individuals. It was so fun,” he says.
Since winning season three, Kingman has been taken aback by all the positive feedback he’s received. But it isn’t the feedback about his work or creativity that have touched him the most. “My whole life people have told me how creative I was. The word creative is such a nebulous word, and when you hear it all the time it doesn’t mean much. For the first time, people are complimenting my character, and not things that I’ve made,” he says. “Receiving compliments about being a good teacher, storyteller, and being thoughtful, those compliments really stood out. It’s almost like a self-discovery workshop I’ve gone through where I’ve learned so much about myself. It’s been very encouraging.”
While Kingman isn’t sure what the future holds, the options are limitless. His dream job is to be a Disney Imagineer. “Hopefully Disney was watching the show and thought ‘Hey, this guy would be fun to talk to,’” he says. He also loves to travel, so he’s thinking about buying a van and outfitting it with a huge desk that he can work on by day and sleep on at night. He’d also use the van to meet and collaborate with other makers across the country, and continue serving as an example of how to repurpose recycled material into beautiful new pieces of work.
Photo courtesy of NBC Making It.