Friday, September 19, 2008

Top Design

Have you been watching Top Design on Bravo? I've been busy blogging on the show over at Blogging Top Design and I'm loving doing it! It's a lot of work - A LOT of work - and I worry I'm neglecting things a bit over here on ::Surroundings::. But, readership is up, so I guess I'm doing something right!

During season 1 of Top Design, I did post show critiques of the designers' work here on ::Surroundings::. I enjoyed doing it and because of that, I got to know a whole new group of bloggers, including the team - Laura K, The Scarlett and Tbone - behind the Blogging Top Design site. Since I was playing role of critic, I chose not to reach out to the designers on the show so as to maintain a level of objectivity. I must say - I'm much more enjoying my current role as cheerleader for the team. They all work so hard and I'm so enjoying getting to really know them all.

One of my roles is to host podcast interiews each with the contestants who are sent home. So far, I've interviewed Serge Van Lian, Jennifer Newsom, Robert Reid and just today Kerry Howard. Click here to access the podcasts. All have been incredibly lovely and generous with their comments and time.

Given the amount of time I'm working on this show - I'm so glad that I'm enjoying it so much better this season! The producers - The Magical Elves - have really made all the right changes to the format. Season 1 was a mess - the designers limited by boring challenges and overly restrictive time limits.

Another thing I am so happy about is that all the contestants seem to be well qualified to be on the show, while still at very different places in their careers. I also love the fact that there are no crazy ridiculous ego's here. No producer stoked "I am the best - they should all just go home" type attitudes. Just a bunch of nice people who tried very hard.


In this weeks' epi #3 - the designers were tasked with creating window displays to showcase a design by a Project Runway designer. Cross-pollination of Bravo reality stars! This window by Preston Lee and Andrea Schroder for a dress designed by Daniel Franco was my personal favorite. I adore the moody ethereal nature of it. Judge Jonathan Adler thought it too dark - but since he's the happy chic guy - one can't have expected him to feel the love here. This was not the winning project, the win went to Ondine Karady and Natalie Williams whose work was lovely as well. But, Andrea and Preston's window really spoke to me. And, Daniel's dress was gorgeous as well!


Speaking of judges, Margaret Russell, Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler are back. Refreshingly - all are the same as before - but Jonathan is less self-impressed and Kelly's clothing and hair have yet to overshadow her opinions. They seem more serious about their responsibilites this year. Margaret, as always, is lovely, refined and purposeful in her judging. I've asked each of the contestants who've been sent home which judge was the toughest, and the consenses seems to be that Jonathan gets that award. Margaret appears to be the judge who focuses on the whole space and Kelly likes to see single big "wow" moments. Jonathan -on the other hand- is fairly inscruitable while viewing the rooms. He does seem to make a lot of faces - but the contestants are reporting that they just couldn't read him. India Hicks is playing the role of host and judge - but I really don't think of her as real judge, to be honest. She's not a designer in her own right, even though her father was famed tastemaker David Hicks. But as a host, she provides a calm, if distant, presence.

Last years host and mentor Todd Oldham is doing what he does best - being a mentor. He's such an incredibly nice and kind man, isn't he? Plus, he provides the designers with wonderful tips and tricks and loving support. You know - most designers don't spend a lot of time doing the physical work of creating their designs - so these contestants can be held back by not being able to pull off the vision they see in their head. Having Todd around to provide some how-to tips must feel like a life-line to the contestants!

Image courtesy of Eddie Ross.

I've definately been happy to get to know the work of Eddie Ross - who besides being senior style editor for Martha Stewart Living, is also a blogger! Eddie's blog is fairly new - but he's been quite busy filling it up with his flea market finds, craft projects, floral arrangement how-tos. His Hell's Kitchen apartment is the labratory for his design work. Speaking of blogging - did you see Martha Stewart yesterday? Her whole show was all about blogging - including an audience of bloggers doing their thing from the studio. Eddie was there too - you can read his on the scene posts here.

In Epi 2, the designers were paired and tasked with creating a comfy cozy bomb shelter in which they might need to stay for 50 years. Aside from the non-existant functional aspects here (no food storage, no personal facilities) most of the resulst were pretty good. This space decorated by Eddie Ross and Andrea Schroder was my personal favorite, and also won the challenge.

I enjoyed Epi 1 - as they had to shop in a thrift store and at a salvage yard. Unfortunately, the time frame and limited budget weren't sufficient to really pull of beautiful spaces in the two story lofts they were working in. But, the challenge tested their ability to work under pressure and make smart decisions, so it was successful. They also introduced the "Pop Design" challenge in this episode. Each designer worked solo to create an art project - similar to Top Chef's Quick Fire challenge. Unfortunately, they've only used this in the first episode. Hopefully we'll see if again at some point. Of all the PopDesign projects - Wisit Prapong's was the most successful, in my opinion. A former fashion designer - he created quick and yet still complete fashion drawings. So pretty!

The rest of the designers are still working to pull out of the pack. And oddly, Teresa Keegan is still quite a bit of a mystery as she's received practically no air time. Wonder what that means? I'm looking forward to her work, as well as more from Nathan Thomas and Shazia Kirmani.

Anyway, stayed tuned for more thoughts, and check us out over at BTD!

4 comments:

Hooked on Houses said...

I have to say I agree with everything you said here. It's hard to believe this is the same show this season. I'm off to check out Eddie's blog. Thanks for the link! -Julia :)

The Paris Apartment said...

This is an amazing post! There's so much info I can't wait to dive in. I missed that episode, hopefully they'll re-run it. I'll set my dvr right now!

eric3000 said...

I'm enjoying the show more this season. Hopefully we are done with the team challenges.

Linda Merrill said...

I know, Eric, I am hoping for an indi challenge too. But, it's not looking like we'll get one this week either. It's the bachelor decorating challenge. I'm not yet sure how big the teams are. Previews to be posted shortly!

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