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Top Design – Triathlon

After last weeks great recap  by Injera she has kindly done another great one this week. Thank you Injera. Also if you feel like reading something different than reality TV check out her great blog Injera.

Top Design – Triathlon

Eight designers remain!  Who will be our Top Designer?

The first voice we hear is Eddie, hoping for an individual challenge so he can express his own creativity.  The second is to Teresa, last week’s dead wood, who observes that she’s “not being utilised as much as (she) could be”.  This seems to be both a dangerous sentiment – “utilised”?  really?  like someone else in the competition (one of your competitors, no less) should be deploying you to show your strength? – and a very early signal to this viewer that Teresa’s going to go home this week. Yep, you heard it here.  Two minutes in and I’m picking the loser edit from this week.  Am I right?  Are my spidey senses still well-tuned?

Wisit is having left-over meatloaf for breakfast.  Eeew.

We cut to Natalie who, at 24, is saying that she has accomplished a lot by being “head designer” at such a young age.  Like the caption, she doesn’t elaborate on what that position entails and where it is.  Her next comment reveals some insecurity, though, in that she feels she still needs to prove herself, so perhaps she’s head designer for Subway franchises.  Andrea misses her kids.  Based on my limited acquaintance with Andrea, I am confident in predicting that this is the most interesting thing she will say or do for the entire episode. 

Eddie calls all the designers to go, and they head out the door to the usual montage of LA buildings.  I love that they show Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.  It kind of ensures that any “design” we’re likely to encounter from our contestants will be a let-down. 

India and her bronzer and jeans remind the contestants that they have been working in teams so far.  They are all polite enough not to say “duh”.  No doubt the designers will still act as though they are utterly side-swiped when she tells them that this week’s challenge is individual.  I’m amazed by this capacity for surprise at the obvious when they are able to remain calm in the face of such sheer craziness as the hat and extreme sleeves of judge Kelly Wearstler.  As India announces the individual Top Design Triathlon, eyebrows ratchet up, demonstrating the limited Botox budget.  It is a “gruelling” event, and designers will have their “creative vision, styling ability and versatility as a decorator” tested.  Teresa looks scared.  If it’s an individual challenge, who will make the decision on how to utilise her?  Nathan, on the other hand, looks pleased, however he describes himself as “definitely not a triathlete.  I’m a smokerlete”, which is not the standard of quip I’ve come to expect from him. 

India goes on to describe the challenge.  She clarifies the obvious (there are three legs), but the elimination details are ambiguous : “you must perform well in each leg, those who are in the bottom may face elimination”.   As a Phil Keoghan watcher of many years, I am always attuned to the “may”, but “those who are in the bottom”?  Bottom what?  Two, three, eight?  Come on, India! 

The first leg is the “chair leg”.  Boom-tish.  Natalie laughs at this limp pun as though her life depends on it.  The task?  Choose one of ten unfinished chairs and transform it into a “one of a kind” piece.  There are lots of fabrics, paints, wood and “many, many other tools”, and two hours to complete.  Kelly and her hat and sleeves realises that India has forgotten to introduce her, so leaps right in and tells the designers that they will be judged on their artistic vision and creativity.  Most importantly, winners of each leg get immunity.  Wow. 

Nathan heads straight for the chair he’s had his eye on (they are all different, hence the “choice”), but others go directly for fabrics.  Wisit goes for painting the existing, plain fabric, whilst Andrea worries about the tension between the judges’ desire for a “wow” chair and her own, simple, classic (yawn!) tastes.  She is heartened by the mess that is Teresa’s chair, though, so I think she’s hoping to scrape through this one as “not worst”. 

Lots of painting, sanding, stapling. 

Ondine is inspired by Betsey Johnson, which must mean “kitsch and tacky”.  Her chair is shaping up to be pink and pom-pommy.  She has the gall to suggest that Natalie’s is over the top!  Natalie says she’s “pushing the envelope”, but it doesn’t look that original – more Tara Dennis than Marc Newson, that’s for sure.  Nathan’s is royal blue paint and shiny, shiny gold upholstery.  I think I spy some paint stains on the upholstery.  He says it’s “very unique”.  No!  Not a modifier for “unique”! 

Eddie chose a Queen Anne and is updating that old “grandma” chair.  He’s also the self-appointed time keeper for this leg.  Even though the judges explicitly said they are after the “wow” factor, Eddie says he doesn’t want the “wow” factor.  He wants the “glam” factor and the “beauty”.  I want the difference between all of these explained to me, with diagrams.  He paints the frame a rather ugly yellow, but has done an amazing job covering the cushion with a silver fabric.  The ever-humble Eddie says: “I am working the best with what I have and, honestly?  It was perfection.”

We haven’t seen Preston at all, in case you were wondering.

Time’s up!

Preston’s is the first up for judging.  It’s very dark and shiny – black paint with blue velvet upholstery.  He sees it as a desk chair.  Nothing about that says “wow” to me.  He just gets nothing from the judges except “thank you”.

India asks Wisit if he picked the fabric or painted it.  There doesn’t seem to be a correct answer to this question.  If he says he painted it, he’s taking responsibility for creating a whole bunch of ugliness, and if he says he picked it, then his taste is questionable.  Hey, what do I know?  Sleeves McHat really likes the effect.

Eddie’s looks… oh, I’m not going to judge!  Let the experts speak!  India listens to Eddie rave about his creation, then seems to want to confirm that the hideousness was not only intentional, but is unobserved: “So you’re really happy with that?  And you could live with your chair?”  Her only comment is “it looks very finished”. 

Natalie joins Preston in getting no more than a thank-you.

Andrea looks panicked and with good reason.  Her chair is horrible.  Bland colours and a baggy upholstery job.  Yuck.  She’s honest about it, though (well, except for the “horrible” bit, that was mine.  Oh, and the bland.  In fact, she only really owns the upholstery error). 

Teresa’s also looks a bit grim and India just wants to clarify that “it reflects” her.  She says it does.  Is that body dysmorphic disorder or something? 

Ondine gets a positive from Sleeves for her risk taking “that worked”.  Good on her.

Nathan’s “speaks to (him) as fashion and art colliding as one and ending up in an interior space”.  Sleeves thinks it looks like an “important” piece of furniture.  I’ll take “important” over “finished” any day.

As the designers gather for the verdict, there’s a shot of Sleeves and I can’t even listen to what she’s saying – I’m too busy trying to figure out what is posture, what is clothing and what is her body.  Wow.  I wish I could do a screen shot.  Natalie’s is the first to be identified as Less Successful (“a remnant from a Vegas hotel, 15 years ago”), followed by Teresa (“it was just an upholstery job”).  They did, however, love Nathan’s (“one of a kind”, “loud, in a good way”) , Eddie’s (“a bold statement”) and Ondine (“iconic feel”).  Nathan gets the win, but is not going to give up and slack off for the next two legs. 

Second Leg!  Will they persist with the “leg” puns for the challenge titles?  Sadly, no.  Jonathan Adler is guest judge.  Now they are going to “design and style a beautiful dining table”.   It’s a “perfect microcosm of all the challenges of design, apparently.  “Composition, colour, texture, scale… taste”.  So, clearly “functionality” is not key to good design.  Let’s see what happens, shall we?

They have 30 minutes and $500 to spend in the showroom, then 2 hours to design the table.  Teresa acknowledges that she really needs immunity.  Natalie’s response to her poor performance in the “chair leg” is to choose a table that is “completely the opposite” of what she’d normally go for. 

Shopping!  Preston runs straight for flowers.  I hope he doesn’t accidentally get fake silk ones!  Eddie scoffs that this is easy for him.  He even does a “Pffft”.  Andrea’s looking at stove top espresso machine, for some reason, and Ondine deliberately chooses a fabric that she describes as “a palm tree on a plaid”.  This, after Jonathan stresses the importance of taste.  Natalie is playing it safe with white and silver. 

Time’s up and work begins.  Nathan, with nothing to lose, is taking a radical approach – sanding back his table to get a “bohemian hangout/seaside cottage” casual vibe. 

Painting, stapling, hive-of-activity shots.

Natalie shows that she is listening to judge feedback to “edit” her ideas.  She is the first contestant today to say she really wants to win, so I’m glad I wasn’t counting on this as my drinking game trigger.  She does, however, say it twice, with varying emphasis, so that would work for two drinks, right?

Preston is aiming for “mothers’ day in the Napa Valley”.  He’s hoping he can pull it off.  Seriously, Preston would have the love light shining in his mother’s eyes just by flashing that smile.  She wouldn’t even notice the fake flowers!   She would certainly not be an objective judge of good table design.

Andrea’s missing her family.  Who knew?  Her theme is… snore. 

Teresa is keeping time for this task.  She is painting plates.  What an excellent way to utilise her time. 

Eddie’s grandmother is his biggest influence in his decorating life.  I hope she wasn’t watching when he used the term “grandma” pejoratively in the previous challenge.  The things she did with tinfoil for thanksgiving must have been better in person, because they sound awful. 

Time’s up!

Teresa describes her table as “informal, somewhat Zen”.  Zen is not a catch-all descriptor for things-you-didn’t-do-well, lady!  There is nothing Zen about her table.  I’d go so far as to say that there’s nothing “Zen” about it, either.  She has eucalyptus branches stuck randomly in vases. 

Natalie’s table is a big mess – literally – of yellow flowers, stacks of blue and white crockery, two woeful white lanterns and some yellow glassware.  It’s apparently for a brunch that “is a little bit on the fancy side, but not too extreme”.  Jonathan hates the flowers, but thinks the rest of the table is “great”.  Well done, Natalie!

Eddie’s looks fab.  I’d enjoy eating at that table.  Jonathan likes it, too.

Andrea’s white on white, with perhaps a touch of pale blue, table is boring.  She did it for a “girly” birthday party for her daughter, but it looks more like a very plain wedding table.  She’s not winning “mom of the year” with this one.

Nathan’s looks awesome.  It’s very casual – he hasn’t even “set” the places” – and Jonathan and India are happy with it.

Flowers seem to be Preston’s undoing.  India thinks the table looks more like a “flower shop” than somewhere you’d sit for a meal.

Wisit sings!  India grabs the nearest glass to stop it from shattering (would that work?).  They are so blown away that they make no comment on his OK table.

Ondine’s mixed metaphors to describe her southern-garden- teaparty-afternoon-brunch are a good enough guide to the mish-mash that is her table.  Jonathan’s not happy.  He doesn’t see Ondine in the table.  She agrees that it’s not really her.

Judging!  Bad news first.  Ondine made “no emotional connection” with the table setting.  Preston’s was impractical. 

Stand-outs: Eddie and Nathan.  Again.  Of course.  Nathan wins… again!  Amazing.  He’s sure he will be poisoned by the other contestants.

Leg three is coming up, after the designers have a good night’s sleep.

Two lots of breakfast and bathroom scenes in one episode is really taking it out of me.  Eddie considers a top-two finish in the first two challenges to be a good omen.  Nathan is excited.  Can he make a clean sweep?  His bizarre top thinks “yes”!  And the continuity editors scream “no”!

Margaret Russell, the Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decor, is judging the… “breathtaking space” challenge?  They must take inspiration from nature to tell a story for a photo-shoot.  They are looking for “amazing” and are offering the opportunity to have it photographed for Elle Decor.  There’s fist pumping and applause.  The catch?  They are shopping at a garden centre.  Natalie has obviously never been to a garden centre.  “Plants!  That’s it!  Plants!”, she panics.  They have $1000 to spend in 45 minutes.

Nathan goes for cacti and succulents.  Eddie is up for statuary – bird baths and urns.  He wants to do “pretty”.  Teresa is going for a Zen space.  Of course she is.  Natalie grabs vintage planters to achieve a Martha’s Vineyard look.  Andrea wants an indoor-outdoor vegie patch.  What about Wisit, Ondine and Preston?  Who knows!  It’s quite possible that Preston rolled up into foetal position when gardens were mentioned and missed the shopping expedition altogether.

They have four hours to transform very plain “two-walled” spaces.  Wisit is attempting a “Springtime in a Parisian Apartment” look.  Good luck to him.  He has turf and blossoms to help.  Ondine is using Kelly green in what she describes as a 60s pop colour scheme (although I thought you’d need more than one colour to call it a “scheme”). 

I was just going to say that I’ll use “Zen” as my drinking game word next week, but then I remembered that I need Teresa to go home.  “Every concept is Zen.”  Bollocks.

Nathan thinks his looks really bad.  “Horrible.”  He is particularly depressed when Teresa tells him that they are doing the same colour finish.  Ha!   He changes tack immediately.  “Zen Buddha Palace?” he says, with a horrified shudder.

Preston’s painting stripes, and I’ve just realised that he kind of reminds me of Robert Plotkin from Project Runway, probably just because of Robert’s banal swimsuit with racing stripes, but also because they both seem so, well, dumb.  He’s doing it for grandma.

Andrea is making a boring garden and Eddie snarks that Teresa’s tobacco colours are giving him a smoker’s cough.  Natalie is doing it for her mum.

They finish for the day, with an hour left to finish in the morning.  The designers are relaxing and Eddie leads the bitching about Teresa’s design.  Andrea interviews that “Eddie’s great, but it’s really important for me to be around people who are genuine because I’m a genuine person”.  Genuinely boring is far less entertaining than witty, Andrea.

Preston’s looks awful.  Awful.  Teresa’s is… Zen.  God, I hope she goes home.  It’s foul.  She’s done nothing with the floor.  India seems to be trying not to laugh.  Wisit’s is busy and he’s painted furniture on the wall, but it looks quite pretty and holds together as a concept.  Nathan’s is a “transitional” space, with a Baja vibe.  I don’t think he actually had a plan as to where it worked with an actual house, but it looks ok.  Natalie gets some positive comments for a routine job.  Ondine’s is all Kelly green with white furnishings and it’s certainly striking.  Andrea’s has nothing on the walls.  It’s just a garden.  The judges like Eddie’s, but think there’s still something granny there.  That really hurts!

Final judging.  I didn’t recognise Sleeves McHat in a cocktail dress and big – no, enormous – hair!   Natalie’s worked, “mindful and thoughtful”.  Eddie’s – polished, but no wow factor (and they hit him with “granny” again).  Preston’s chair was beautiful, but the overall room was complacent.  Wisit took it in the direction they wanted and had lots of ideas.  Nathan just threw a bunch of stuff in; boring.  Ondine hasn’t wowed in the triathlon; dishevelled.  Andrea’s was a mess.  Teresa’s plant choice was nice but the room wasn’t cohesive; “where you wait for valet parking”. 

Bring “˜em in! 

Who won the final leg?  Natalie!  Natalie?  Huh.  There’s no tension for the overall winner;  it’s gotta be Nathan.  They leave with their immunity, and with the unanswered question of “who gets photographed for Elle Decor” hanging over their heads (this goes unresolved).  Preston, Eddie, Wisit and Ondine are all safe. 

It’s between Andrea and Teresa.  Teresa gives us another couple of Zens in her final interview.  Who’s going home?  It comes down to the fact that the judges recognise that Teresa does everything “Zen”, but doesn’t do it well, and Andrea is bland.  So?  Who is it?  C’mon! 

“Teresa, we cannot live with your design.”

Next week, I’m hoping Andrea goes, followed by Natalie, then Preston.  But, even more so, I’m hoping that the contestants stop being so NICE to each other.  I need some interpersonal drama.


1 Reality Raver { 02.26.09 at 8:49 pm }

I finally watched it I am a bit slack with it now I have handed the Top Design baton to you.
I loved Ondines chair I thought it was fabulous. I liked the fabric on Nathan’s chair but not the yellow colour.
I wonder if Kelly goes out dressed like that. I do think she is attractive and I love that she is bold with her choices.
I think Johnathan Adler has crush on Wisat, he looked wistfully at him as he asked him to sing.
I love this show it will be very interesting to contrast and compare the channel 9 show.

2 Injera { 02.27.09 at 10:24 am }

I’m actually looking forward to the Nine show – it sounds different enough to TD to be interesting. Only problem is that I can’t find any trace of it on the interwebs! Hopefully that means Nine have decided against the naff title Home Made in favour of something with a bit more panache. Home Made sounds sooooo Tonya Todman…

I doubt that Kelly goes out dressed like that. She wouldn’t be able to get through doorways! I agree with you that she does make interesting, striking fashion choices.

I’ll be way more attuned to any Wisit/Jonathan crush vibes now.

3 Top Design – Triathlon | …blah blog blah… { 05.08.10 at 3:11 pm }

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