Top Design Recap Episode 7: My Dinner with Andrea!
Diet Eric Three Thousand Recaps now read even more like original Eric Three Thousand Recaps! Please remember these recaps are a mix of fact and fantasy and most of the quotes are fake.
OK. Are you sitting down? Good. Because I have a couple of shocking announcements. Ready?
First: I actually thought this was a good episode. I enjoyed watching it. It made me want to possibly watch another episode. What's up with that, right? Why, after all this time would they make a good episode? I know it was mainly because it was an individual challenge and there were fewer designers so we actually got to see some designing but I was still surprised.
Second: I LOVED Kelly Wearstler's outfit! She is always trying to look as ridiculous as possible but she usually just ends up looking stupid and sloppy. This week's selection was off-the-charts insanity! She really hit one out of the park (I think that's a sports metaphor). When I first saw her sitting in the White Room I just laughed hysterically. Then I realized I wasn't laughing at her; I was actually laughing with her. The look was totally over the top but it looked intentionally dramatic, like a costume. It was something you would see in a campy stage production or in aesthetically beautiful but unrealistic period films like "Bram Stoker's Dracula" or "Blade Runner." Every time I saw Kelly's outfit it made me happy.
Kelly Wearstler by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
She looked like a Japanese anime version of a cross between a 1940s film-noir actress and a Pre-Raphaelite painting. The puffy sleeves and out-of-control auburn hair were totally Pre-Raphaelite. I don't think that was the look she was going for but that's the association I made. It's actually a perfect look for this challenge because the Pre-Raphaelites were associated with the European Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century. Of course, the designers this week were thinking more about the American Arts and Crafts movement, which occurred later, in the early 20th century. But I still think it's a relevant connection. So I salute Kelley in her quest to look as silly as possible; it usually doesn't work, but when it does it's a masterpiece!
Anyway, sorry about the digression. Let's get to the challenge:
The remaining five designers get letters from Todd inviting them to brunch at Norman's on Sunset:
Goil: "What's 'brunch'?"
It's gay speak for "lunch."
Goil: "Oh, I'm really just a bowl and noodles kind of guy."
Yeah, we know. But you're gay so could you try and get with the program?
They are at Norman's. I had never heard of this restaurant. It was on Sunset Blvd. at the Millennium Plaza, a section of Sunset Blvd. I never visit even thought I used to drive through it every day; it looks like Rodeo Drive but more boring and less parking. In checking the Internet, Norman's has either closed down or its official name is "Norman's-Closed." It must have closed immediately after they shot this episode. That's sad. Anyway, Todd tells the designers they'll be creating a chef's dining room for a famous mystery chef, who would like the room to be luxurious and whose personal taste leans toward the Arts and Crafts movement, mid-century modern, and earth tones.
The designers all point out that Arts and Crafts is the opposite of mid-century modern. But, while the two styles are different, they actually have a lot in common. As I said, we are probably talking about the American school of the Arts and Crafts movement here, which was certainly intended to glorify craftsmanship, but also was associated with trying to spread the ideas of good design to a larger middle-class market. And, while mid-century modern did feature a lot of mass-produced items, it also included hand-crafted pieces and both styles promoted good design over pure decoration.
Andrea tells us she works in restaurant design so she can't go home this week. We assume this means she will be going home this week.
Matt tells us he doesn't want to go home:
Matt: "My daughter won't want me to come home unless I win."
Wow, his daughter sounds like a total bitch.
The windowless spaces they are designing actually make sense for this challenge because I think private dining rooms in restaurants are usually back rooms, often without windows.
So, they have $40,000 to spend on furniture at the PDC. Somehow, in all of the PDC Carisa can't find any chairs and has to go with patio furniture. This wouldn't be a problem except she uses really ugly fabric for the slipcovers.
Carisa complains constantly about her carpenter. Why is she the only one who has problems with her carpenters?
Carisa: "Put the $10,000 table over there, right under that beam my carpenter is putting up. Oh, my god; that beam is going to fall on my $10,000 table. Take that beam down; I don't want it falling on my $10,000 table. If you break my $10,000 table I'm going to be really upset. OK, I'm just going to slide my $10,000 table out of the way. Oh, my god! See! I told you it was going to break! I guess I moved my $10,000 table just in time!"
Hey Carisa, how much did that table cost?
Michael mixes up a bunch of different chairs and thinks it's really clever:
Who's a clever girl, then?
Michael: "I am!"
He also paints these weird abstract paintings in red paint because apparently red makes you hungry. Again, he thinks it's really clever:
Todd: "Are you sure those painting would make you hungry and not, for instance, make you think of a horrific bloody crime scene?"
Michael: "Yes, I'm sure. I think it's really clever."
Todd: "Well, OK then. I'm looking forward to the judging.
Goil is painting stripes on the wall:
Goil: "Oh, shit! The paint bled under the tape."
Todd: "Oh, I really like how you made it look like the paint bled under the tape."
Goil: "Yeah, isn't that cool? That was totally done on purpose."
The celebrity chef guest judge is Tom Colicchio from Top Chef. The judges wander around the dining rooms, taking the chairs for test drives. Margaret is really examining the merchandise, checking under Carisa's slipcovers. I was pretty sure she was about to tell that one chair to turn it's head and cough.
So, How do the final rooms look?
Michael's just doesn't look like much. You wonder where the $40,000 went. The chairs are cool but there are too many different types and there is nothing to pull the room together. I don't have a problem with the carpet, however, which the judges hate.
Goil's is just messy looking. There is too much going on and, again, I don't know where the $40,000 went. The chairs don't go with the room. The dead-plant chandelier is interesting but I find it kind of creepy.
Tom: "Can you explain the reasoning behind having so many different styles?
Goil: "Well, I was trying to make a room that would go with your food, with everything different and nothing going together."
Tom: "What? I think you're trying to say that the menus are created individually for each party?"
Goil: "No, I'm saying your food sucks."
Carisa's is not bad. It's a little plain but it's certainly more cohesive and comfortable than Michael's or Goil's. She runs out of time to set the table and blames this on her carpenter. Margaret complains that the banquette is too long but I think a banquette should extend the length of the wall. It makes more sense to say that maybe a private dining room shouldn't have a banquette in the first place. I thought someone would mention the fact that the person at the head of the table has to eat in the hole created by a knot in the tree. And, again, I don't know where the $40,000 went:
Carisa: "That's a $10,000 table!"
Will you shut up about the $10,000 table?! Where did the other $30,000 go? For patio furniture?
Matt's room is really beautiful. I love the sheer fabrics on the walls, I love the leather floor panels, I love the Arts and Crafts inspired silverware, and the chairs are very sleek and modern but have a little mid-century feel to them. I feel like he was able to bring together all the influences into one cohesive, luxurious room.
But the judges pick Andrea, who was supposed to lose because of her earlier comment about the importance of not being out on this challenge. I thought her room was beautiful and luxurious and the suede walls were a nice touch. But I didn't think there was anything different about it; it looked like a really nice dining room that you could already find in someone's house. And it looked %100 modern; I didn't get any feel of Arts and Crafts or mid-century in this room. Eric thinks I was being too literal in looking for those influences but I thought the designers were supposed to be making something for a specific client, not just a nice room.
The designers are asked whose would be their least favorite room in which to eat dinner. I thought this was a great question and that most of the designers answered honestly. I hate the question "Who do you think should go home?" In Top Chef, for instance, the question of who should go home always turned into the question, "Who do you hate the most?" or "Who do you find the most annoying?" or "Who can't stand Marcel?" and never had anything to do with the actual challenge. But this question didn't bother me at all, since it simply had to do with personal taste and could be answered without being nasty and also didn't have to specifically relate to who should lose.
And, in this case, it didn't. I agreed with the designers who said they wouldn't want to eat in Goil's room. But I also agreed with the judges that Goil's room was more interesting than Michael's and that Goil should stay. Michael didn't help his case, of course, by being a pain in the ass:
Michael: "I don't care if the chef wants more storage area in his dining room. I don't want napkins being kept in the dining room and that's all there is to it. And, although I've never had a problem with saying bad things about the other designers in the past when I wasn't even asked, now, when asked for my opinion, I'm suddenly going to act superior and refuse."
OK, time to get rid of Michael. I think he's very talented and he did some nice work, but he hasn't done anything outstanding and his attitude toward the judges is bad.
See you later, decorator. You know, there is nothing wrong with being a decorator. There is no reason that should be an insult. As Eric pointed out, Michael is really good at shopping; he knows how to pick nice pieces. Maybe he should concentrate on that skill.
Enjoy your bubble of splendor, Michael!