Saturday, July 29, 2006

Design Star Recap

I have now watched the first episode of Design Star, the new reality show on HGTV, twice. The second time was even better than the first. Ten designers of varying backgrounds are competing for their own design show on HGTV. As you can imagine, this would be a HUGE career move for the winner. Clive, the English guy, from Designed to Sell is the host. Vern Yip, from Trading Spaces is one of the judges. I don't know if the judges panel will be the same each show or not. Cynthia Rowley and the executive editor of In Style magazine were also judges for episode one. Those are pretty impressive judges for a new show. The show definitely has a Project Runway feel--I'm sure if I wasn't so lazy and I looked into the production company I would find some connection to PR. At the judging, for example, Clive called out a set of five designers whose designs had been judged good enough to continue. The next set represented the "best and the worst" of the designers. That's dialogue straight from PR.

The first task the ten designers had was to use $7500.00 to decorate the NY townhouse that they are staying in for the duration. They could work individually or in teams. The designers were given 24 hours to complete the task. This time frame did not include sleep time, so the work proceeded for two days and one partial day.

The designers wasted FOUR hours right from the get-go with a lot of talk that went absolutely nowhere. Donna--an older lady (mid-40's) who is a designer/flight attendant volunteered to handle the money. She made no attempt to organize a plan for how to spend the money, nor was there any evidence of a group discussion about funds allocations. That seems like Designer 101. Some of these people are professionals with their own design businesses. Shouldn't they know about budgeting? Does one allocate identical money for all rooms? Rooms with different purposes require different funding, don't they? People came up to Donna and asked for money and she gave them what they asked for. I think that was asking for trouble. Eventually, the designers broke into teams to cover the four spaces: the parlor/entry hall/no purpose room, the patio, the bedrooms, and the family room.

Team Parlor/Entry Hall/No Purpose Room consisted of Donna and Teman. This narrow odd shaped room was a difficult job to handle. It did have some lovely architectural features, for example, the staircase and some pillars. It was located directly in front of the family room, and one could see from this room into the family room. During day one work time, Donna and Teman took off with the bulk of the cash to purchase furniture for their room. They left the Patio team high and dry for the entire first day because Donna gave them no money before she and Teman left the house. Meanwhile, Donna and Teman bought whatever they wanted while shopping. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them to go for used furniture. They discussed that they were spending a lot of money and they would probably have to defend it, even as they spent the money. Their room ended up eating $2400 dollars. On what? Well, they bragged about the large leather couch they purchased for $500. There were two tables. A wicker dining chair...lots of crap....I believe the room was known as tchotchkeville to the judges. They covered the staircase with a huge swathe of iridescence teal fabric for some unknown reason. I can't figure out where they spent that much money since the room was largely empty when they finished.

Team Patio consisted of Tym and Joseph. Tym and Joseph covered the chain link fence with light colored wood boards and painted the termination wall, which they build, chartreuse. They spent $1300 dollars on the supplies, mostly wood. They also built two benches and they created a wonderful, warm space at the back of the townhouse. Ramona, inserting herself onto their team without invitation, threw some crap around and did her best to ruin their efforts. Ramona is a self-described 'trash picker artist'. She uses discarded items to create works of art. At least, that's what she CLAIMS. As an example of her talent, she found a discarded upright vacuum on the street. She hauled it to the townhouse and covered it in plaster of paris mix. Thus, it looked like a very white vacuum. She wrote the word DESIGN now the front of the canister. She tried to put her "art" in the family room but that team wasn't having it. Tym and Joseph, apparently, were too wimpy to tell her to kick that piece of junk to the curb and let her put it in the corner of their lovely patio space. Now I don't want to be all nasty about Ramona...but sheesh..a vacuum covered in goo that turns it white ain't art. If she had sculpted the vacuum from stone..or built it with papier mache...anything that required her skills as an artist, I would have respected it more. I still would have thought it was stupid, but I would have respected the talent it took to create it. With this thrown away vacuum, however, all she did was cover it with gunk. A class of kindergarteners could have done that and enjoyed the process greatly. I repeat, that ain't art.

Team Bedrooms consisted of Vanessa, Teran, and David. (If Teran's name sounds familiar, it is not your imagination. Two of the designers are twins, thus, Teman and Teran.) Vanessa took charge of team bedroom right away. While out on her shopping expedition, she spotted an orange and brown pillow with a big daisy on the front. That makes it sound cheesy, but the pillow was very modern and graphic. She was immediately inspired to use the pillow as the inspiration fpr the room designs. From the edit, I can't tell if she actually bought everything and changed the design plan right then or not. She did take a picture of the pillow back to the team and discuss it with them. The team was totally on board with her idea. It is possible she got their okay and then purchased all the bedding. The color scheme for bedroom One was orange and chocolate brown; and the second bedroom was chartreuse/chocolate brown. They used the flower design as an accent in one room, and geometric designs in the second. These rooms were the most pulled together of the house. The budget for the two rooms was $1900.00--really $800 per room. Admittedly, they didn't have to buy any furniture because they had the mattresses and bed bases. They needed bedding for ten beds, as well as, paint and whatever they used to build the headboards though.

Team Family Room consisted of Temple, Alice, and Ramona. They decided right away to get the most bang for their buck by using thrift store purchases. Temple and Alice worked on the room--buying everything and distressing the armoire, painting, etc. while Ramona concerned herself with collecting trash off the street. Ramona had volunteered to paint a mural on the long wall in the room. The group agreed to let her, but only if she gave them a sketch to approve beforehand. The budget for this room was #1900.00 also. For their money, they bought paint, a couch, six chairs, a coffee table, an armoire and a small chest, as well as, accent pieces like candles and stands and pillows etc.

You may be detecting a not so subtle theme in my recap, here--what did Ramona do to screw this room up? She gave the designers (all ten) a choice of two designs. Sketch one was a reclining woman in scanty garments--wearing a sash which said Miss Utah. Funnily, Temple was a Miss Utah in a pageant. (The Miss USA one, I think.) The second sketch was just abstract swirls. The vote was unanimous for sketch two. Temple did not want to be on the wall, and none of the other designers wanted her to be on there either. Guess which one Ramona painted? It was incredibly insulting. She painted her in thigh high hose and high heels. I'm not sure she had a top on other than the sash saying Miss Utah. Admittedly, the mural was abstract--but still--I can only assume Ramona was acting out of passive aggressiveness.


In the judging--Donna came under fire for her incredibly poor money management. Totally deserved, imo. The Parlor was also, as I previously mentioned, referred to as tchotchkeville. That was not a compliment. I'd post a picture of this huge empty weird space but the DS webpage won't let me copy one. I recommend seeing it for yourself. The teal iridescence fabric is not to be missed. It's also amusing that their design concept for the room was supposed to be "fun". Where's the fun?

Patio team got lots of compliments right up until the discussion centered on plaster of paris vacuum. Tym and Joseph got a bit of heat for not telling Ramona to take a hike--which they deserved--they should never have let her ruin their zen space with crap. When Vern Yip dared to suggest to Ramona that a vacuum "sculpture" was not a good choice, she got snippy and said that such a choice was "personal". She was utterly unwilling to recognize that the piece was crap.

Family Room team did a respectable job and while the judges weren't overwhelmingly in love with the room--it didn't totally suck either--until they got to the discussion of the mural of Miss Utah. Ramona claimed that the group voted for that mural. WHAT??? If I had been Temple, I would have been all over that girl for painting that stupid, slutty picture of me. Temple, meanwhile, said nothing. I'm thinking in future episodes maybe people will defend themselves more vigorously. I sense that the designers are trying to take the highroad--which is commendable--but the end result of that was Miss Utah splashed across a wall in the NY townhouse in thigh highs.

The bedroom team got all the compliments of the judges. Vanessa, meanwhile, pretty much took ALL the credit. That girl needs to learn to shut her mouth. I can see where it could get her in trouble in the future. Yes, she was the driving force behind the design. But the process was collaborative. Part of what made the room great was the artwork which David created. Vanessa made a comment "I was lucky because David is an artist." Chick--use the word WE, it always looks better to share the credit. I think Vanessa's aggressive credit-taking may impact her relationships with the other designers if it persists.

So the winner of the episode--Vanessa. The loser? It came down to Donna or Ramona. I thought Donna's money management was a huge black mark against her and her design style is plebian and uninspired. Ramona, however, was just a disaster of trash art, so she went. She left, unbowed, convinced that only she knew real art.

I can't wait to see what happens next.


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