Top Design 9/17 Recap: The Bermuda Triangle: Reality TV Edition
Last week on Top Design the designers went all Blast From the Past and designed kick ass bomb shelters. Jennifer and Robert were sent home after it became clear that they were planning a death match in their bunker. Meanwhile, Wisit and Nathan planned their Big, Fat Gay Wedding and Eddie and Andrea won the challenge, along with bragging rights. This week, the ten remaining designers are back for more interior design hijinks.
This weeks episode begins with the designers gathering in a parking, where they are greeted by host, India Hicks. They’ve already designed living spaces and now their abilities will be tested in broader strokes, she tells them. They are standing in the parking lot of an exclusive boutique in downtown L.A. They will be creating window displays in teams of two. They will have very specific clients for this challenge and here they come: it’s five of designers from previous seasons of Project Runway. The designers choose paint chips to pair up and then are matched with a PR designer.
I Now Pronounce You Annoying and Creepy
Preston and Andrea are paired with creepy Daniel from seasons 1 and 2. Wisit and Kerry will work with season 3 winner, Jeffrey. Ondine and Natalie will be designing for season 4 contestant, Sweet P. Shazia and Nathan are paired with Andre from season 2. Also back from season two is Santino, who is matched with Eddie and Teresa. After a quick consultation with their team, the clients/designers will pick a team leader, who will guide the design of the window.
Santino thinks his look is just sick. The good kind of sick. It’s a black hooded thing on a very goth looking white mannequin. Eddie is scared of Santino. I can’t say I blame him. Santino talks about Masquerade in Venice as his inspiration. Eddie decides he’ll just keep talking and spouting ideas and knows he’ll be able to run right over Teresa.
Natalie and Ondine meet with Sweet P, who talks about a window that moves from cocoon to butterfly. When Ondine worked on Sex and the City, she did plenty of window displays, so she’s feeling pretty confident. Sweet P is feeling the girl power with her team and can hardly figure out which one she’ll choose as team leader.
Andrea loves Daniel’s dress even though it’s the color of baby poop. Daniel, who is no less spacey and weird than he was on Project Runway decides to read a poem to Preston and Andrea: this poem will express what he wants the window design to look like. Andrea is thrilled that Daniel was so specific. Daniel tells us he wants to make it easy for people to do their best work.
Andre talks to Nathan and Shazia about the political uncertainty in the country as a concept for the window design. Nathan tells us Andre has designed the Debbie Downer is dresses. Andre keeps talking about politics and the world and vortices. Nathan thinks it’s all very vague an unexciting.
Jeffrey meets with his window designers, Kerry and Wisit. He talks about the movie BladeRunner but Kerry thinks he’s talking about Blades of Glory. Sweetie, these are very different movies and Jeffrey didn’t design a blue spandex jumpsuit with sequins and fringe. Wisit starts talking about a Rococco room with graffiti on the walls and Jeffrey corrects him: the collection is based on Blade Runner. Jeffrey just looks confused by Wisit, like that dog in the old RCA ads. Kerry suggests a Hockney-esque arrangement of mirrors, which Jeffrey seems to like.
Because he is less clueless about Jeffrey’s design references than Wisit, Kerry will be team leader. Andre picks Nathan as his team leader. Eddie will be the team leader for Santino’s window. Daniel chooses Preston as his team leader and Sweet P picks Ondine, only because she’s older than Natalie.
The designers have thirty minutes to pick a color palette and decide on a design for their window. Eddie tells us Santino asked for a kind of Venetian mansion….on the river. What river in Venice is that Eddie? I have a feeling Eddie needs to consult an atlas. Nathan tells us that their design concept is turmoil and fear of the future. Yipee! Kerry is concerned about being chosen as team leader because now he has to see Jeffrey’s vision through to the end. Meanwhile, Wisit has begun rambling about the Rococco thing again. He’s like a dog with a bone. A very flourishy and elaborate bone.
With $500 to spend between the hardware store and the craft store, the teams get to work. Presotn buys some trees at the hardware store while Andrea hits the craft store. Ondine, who is apparently designing a bedroom for a 7-year old girl, buys loads of pink butterflies. Wisit doesn’t find any mirrors or spray paint at the craft store, so he just uses the money to buy other things. At the hardware store, Kerry buys every mirror there and even breaks some for good measure.
The teams head back to the Top Design showroom to get the rest of the supplies they’ll need for their window displays. They have fifteen minutes and $600. The designers will have three hours to work tonight. Eddie is clearly worried about the time limit because he’s talking a mile a minute trying to communicate his plan for the design with Teresa. It sounds something like “Mirror mirror black black silver silver.”
Nathan tells us he’s apprehensive about being teamed with Shazia. She’s not exactly a hard worker, so he knows he has to take control of the team. Wisit spends some time talking Kerry out of everything Jeffrey said he wanted for his window.
Todd the King of Design Advice soon arrives to help the teams. He advises Nathan about how to safely breaks a mirror and then goes on to help the other teams with great ideas. He’s so calm and helpful. I love him. Kerry and Wisit begin working on getting the mirrors onto the wall, They put the first one in place and Kerry leaves Wisit holding the mirror in place so he can go get some wood to make shims that will hold the mirror in place. Wisit stands there and whines about how he can’t hold the mirror….and he’s right: the mirror slides halfway down the wall, leaving big smears of adhesive all over. Elsewhere, there’s a lot of painting and mirrors breaking and things being dropped on the floor.
With only four hours to work on the day of elimination, the teams are working to get their designs pulled together. Kerry and Wisit work on mounting the mirrors….actually, Kerry is working on the mirrors. I don’t know what exactly Wisit is doing. Preston and Andrea work on suspending the mannequin from the ceiling in their window. Andrea tells us that Preston has a dominant, take-charge personality. She thinks this means he can’t get along with others.
Nathan tells us his window reflects what Andre asked for. Here comes Andre to throw a wrench in Nathan’s plans. Apparently, Andre grew up in the House of Wicker and was beaten with a wicker chair every day of his childhood (<---slight exaggeration) and he haaaaates wicker. Half of Nathan’s design was wicker. Now that’s out and Nathan’s not sure what to do.
Jeffrey stops by to check in on what Kerry and Wisit have done. He is not happy. In fact, he hates the wallpaper. Kerry blames himself for having listened to Rococco Wisit. Jeffrey tells them that the wallpaper doesn’t fit into the sleek, modern and minimal design he envisioned. Yeah, and also it’s ugly.
Daniel wanted his window to be the most dramatic and he seems really excited with what Preston and Andrea have done. Daniel actually signs the window at Preston’s request. Santino takes one look at the bright fuscia background of Eddie and Teresa’s window and asks if that is the finished color. Eddie suggests rubbing black shoe polish into the paint to darken the color. He also complains to Santino that Teresa is too slow. Meow.
With one hour left, Kerry doesn’t know what to do. He’s overwhelmed and irritated with Wisit. So am I and I’m not even in the same room with him. Nathan is freaking out that he hasn’t achieved what Jeffrey wanted.
Design as a Social Commentary
The judges will be viewing the windows at night to see them best. This week’s judges are, as usual, Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler and Margaret Russell. Jonathan’s partner is a window designer, so he’ll be looking at the designs with a particularly critical eye.
The first window the judges view is Nathan and Shazia’s interpretation of Andre’s vision. Nathan talks about how this is a particularly gray time and we don’t know where we’re going politically. He says he wants to make something that showed movement from turmoil toward becoming a phoenix rising from the flame….blah blah blah. Whatever. It’s a store window, bit the great American novel. Kelly wonders if there are Cliff Notes for this explanation. *snort* When asked about the ethnic touches, Shazia rambles on about Pakistan and the East. Andre admits the window is not what he imagined, but that is, he diplomatically adds why people collaborate.
Sweet P loves the window Ondine and Natalie created for her. They explain that they wanted to create a fantasy and move from a cocoon to a butterfly. Jonathan asks whose idea it was to pin up and dress and Natalie takes credit: it was a good choice, he compliments her.
Wisit takes the lead in explaining the design choices he and Kerry made. He admits they blacked out the two side windows to block out some bad design. Kerry explains that Jeffrey asked them to minimize the space and that’s why they did it. Wisit says the baubles on the floor weren’t really a reference to anything: they just wanted to add more sparkle and visual interest. Jeffrey says it isn’t really his interpretation.
Eddie and Teresa created a window that’s dark and edgy, with strips of ribbon and broken mirrors. The judges take a closer look and then asks Santino if he’s happy: overall, he’s really happy. I am not happy because Santino was on for exactly 3 minutes and within those three minutes he did not roll out his Tim Gun imitation. I amuse myself by saying “What happened to Andre?” in my best (lame) Tim Gunn voice.
Kelly takes one look at Preston and Andrea’s window and compliments Daniel’s dress. Jonathan compliments the color choice for the window backdrop. Daniel tells the judges he’s happy with what the designers came up with.
So Bad You Can See the Marks From the Bus Tires
It’s time for this week’s judging. Once again, Kelly is showing her creativity and lack of concern over looking like a Before picture. She’s resplendent in Roseanne Roseannadanna hair topped off with a purple, sequined beret. India welcomes the teams and compliments them on a job well done with lots of imagination and fantasy. There were two teams who stood head and shoulders above the rest. Preston and Andrea created a simple, impactful and flawless space. Ondine and Natalie’s window was incredible, creative, confident, surprising and beautiful. This week’s winning team is Ondine and Natalie. Natalie = supermegaexcited.
That leaves three teams. Eddie and Teresa used fantastic colors and had a happy client. Still, the space was sloppy and the dress didn’t show up against the background. Still, they’re safe. The bottom two teams are Kerry and Wisit and Shazia and Nathan.
Jonathan expresses his disappointment in Kerry and Wisit’s design. He asks Wisit if he thinks they did a good job presenting Jeffrey’s dress. Wisit the Blind says yes. Kelly comments on the black that enclosed the space and made it difficult to see the garment. Kerry tells the judges Wisit didn’t connect as much with Jeffrey. India asks if Wisit connected with Jeffrey and Kerry says he didn’t. Wisit says Jeffrey was a difficult client who was detrimental to their vision. Um, but he’s the client, so shouldn’t the designer be more concerned with the client’s vision?
Jonathan says Andre’s political ideas were dissonant with Nathan and Shazia’s window design. Margaret applauds the fact that they had a satisfied client, but says it wasn’t a good window. Nathan admits he had trouble with the dress: he didn’t like it. The dress just didn’t speak to him. He thought working with Andre would help, but he admits he lost the dress in the window design. Shazia claims to love the dress, but says the concept was just too much. India asks Shazia who should go home and Shazia shows that she can’t form an opinion on anything: she just can’t choose. Nathan reluctantly throws Shazia under the bus: he doesn’t want her to go home, but he really wants to stay.
Kerry takes full responsibility for the failure of the team. Wisit looks shocked. Probably because he would do anything to save himself. Wisit then tells the judges he can’t choose which of them should go home, but it seems as if he just doesn’t want Kerry to hurt him. He then adds that he did his best. Wisit is turning into a little weasel.
The judges dismiss the teams to discuss the elimination. Jonathan says Shazia and Nathan’s design was a mess. Margaret agrees: it looked like a high school art project. Jonathan points out that, through all of the challenges, Shazia has stayed quiet. India agrees that Shazia has stood behind someone else and hasn’t shown the judges her own style.
Kelly admits she’s disappointed in Kerry and Wisit. Margaret agrees: she’s sad because she knows they can produce better work. Jonathan acknowledges that this was the wrong client for both of them and the end result was bad. He’s disappointed in Kerry’s response about the change in direction: designers have to be able to change direction in their plan and they just made all the wrong changes. The question for the judges is: Who is at fault? Is it Kerry because he was team leader or Wisit because he didn’t contribute?
The judges have reached a decision and the designers file back into the elimination room to learn their fates. Jonathan Adler reminds the designers that the challenge was about using a garment as inspiration, as well as being able to work with a client’s idea.
India gives the judges’ assessment of the bottom four. Nathan was responsible for his team’s bad design. Shazia gave the judges no reason to keep her in the competition because she still has not shown them her design voice. Kerry ended up with an unhappy client and a bad design. Wisit has a background in fashion, so this should have been his moment to shine: he didn’t.
*BooHiss!* The judges eliminate Kerry. He remains a Southern gentleman and thanks everyone for the opportunity. Kerry tells us he’s disappointed in himself because he’s a better designer than the window showed. He thanks the judges and goes to say goodbye to the other designers. Kerry tells us he’s a man of his word and, as team leader, he took full responsibility for the failings of the team. Todd appears and wishes Kerry good luck as the other designers all applaud him. Kerry is sure that there’s something bigger and better out there for him.
Next Week: The designers will be working with clients who desperately need their help: bachelors. I can already see the beer mirrors and the giant TV.