Host Ellen Degeneres noted that a week after McClellan had been named as the inaugural show's winner, they received an anonymous tip saying that his final project was copied from European Designer Simon Schacht. As a result, McClellan was stripped of the title and runner-up Katie Stout was named the Ellen's Design Challenge winner.
McClellan's appearance on the Degeneres show offered the genial and well-liked designer a chance to tell his side of the story.
While acknowledging that similarities between his table and Schacht's were "compelling," he said that he had never heard of Schacht and had not even seen his work before.
"I understand the decision made and accept and recognize Katie as the legitimate winner of the show," McClellan added.
"Preparing for this competition and over the last 20 years, I've looked at millions and millions of pieces of furniture and it's quite possible and looks as if that piece got somehow lodged in my memory," he continued. "When Chip [Wade] and I were deciding and working towards the design and I saw that stack of lumber, I had a flash of a piece of furniture that would be brilliant for this show and I owned it. Chip and I built a fantastic, wonderful piece of furniture."
Clearly disappointed by the outcome and acknowledging that dealing with the controversy had been taxing, McClellan also noted the furniture reality show had provided furniture designers a platform "to express how we come up with ideas and how we execute them."
For her part, Degeneres appeared to accept and agree with McClellan's explanation, remarking that "most furniture is a derivative of something. I know you as a person would not have purposely done that."
Degeneres also offered McClellan her support saying that she would like to work with him in the future. "It's not just that your vision is great and you have a great aesthetic," she said, "but the quality of your work is great as well. Hopefully we are gonna make those pieces available for people to purchase."
McClellan is the owner of Jerome, AZ-based Western Heritage Furniture, which he started in 1991. The company creates handcrafted furniture form reclaimed barnwood.
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