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Top Design – Eco Office

Injera has kindly done another fabulous recap on Top Design – the Eco Office. Check out her blog Injera for other examples of her quirky thoughts.

Top Design – Eco Offices

Seven designers remain! Who will be Senor (or Senorita) El Decor? We’ll be one step closer to knowing in an hour or so.

Eddie kicks off the episode by reassuring us all that, whilst he would like to win, his reputation as a designer doesn’t ride on it as he’s already successful. He works for Martha Steward Living, don’tcha know! Makes me wonder why he’s even doing this show. Natalie wants the judges to know who she is (apparently “funky, crazy and loud”) but acknowledges that they are always telling her to “edit, edit, edit”. Responsiveness to criticism, UR doing it rong, Natalie. Andrea self-deprecates boringly, as usual. We see, but don’t hear, Wisit, and Nathan and Ondine only hit the screen when the designers reach the studio. That is a total of six designers – what about Preston and his dimples?

Guest judge this week is Danny Seo – green lifestyle guru. He’s the “green designer” on the Today Show. Danny tells the designers to think about the “R” words and the list is a lot longer than I was expecting. Reduce, re-use and recycle were there, but there were more and I just glazed over a bit. “Be resourceful!” The contestants have to use everything they find in their office. As well as that, the “Top Design” showroom has a special “eco friendly” section for them to shop in. Eddie is a bit sceptical at the idea of using fabric remnants, if his curling lip is anything to go by. Each designer will have a client who will have their office redesigned to be Eco Friendly. Lucky them.

Paint chips are picked, office spaces are allocated, clients are met. Nathan finds his client’s office “disgusting”. The client brief is that the office needs to accommodate two people. That seems to be all. The client’s time in East Africa inspires a “harvest-y golds” palate. Nathan suggests applying the carpet to the wall to use as pinboards, which… seems like it might fit the “re-purpose” category, but is it necessary?

Let’s see what Natalie has to work with. A very similar, bland office with a young “very cool” woman. “Very cool” is Natalie’s take, so I’m not sure how accurately she has summed up her client. She looks way cooler than Natalie, but that’s hardly a stretch. Natalie’s assessment that the client “loves” her ideas (“bright blues” is “ideas”?) is undermined by the client saying “I’m not worried – it’s gotta be better than this”. Not resounding support, then.

Eddie walks into what appears to be a sparsely furnished small room. His client is perched awkwardly on a low filing cabinet or something. There is a small lamp in the corner. Eddie’s pissed off that he has to use “all the crap that’s in the room”. Wow, way to communicate with your client, dude. “This carpet is disgusting and everything about this room is disgusting“. What can the client do but agree? Especially since he’s “just a dork“. God, Eddie, nobody cares if you are too cool to create something a “dork” will consider “funky”. He riffs for a while about how much he hates the word “funky” and sniffs his fingers disdainfully to illustrate. He’s being gross. I have decided I hate Eddie and want him to crash and burn. And I want Martha to see. In fact, I want him to become the butt of jokes on “The Martha Stewart Show”. Martha will dress him in an apron and make him fetch things for her and then change her mind. She’ll send him on elaborate errands to trashy malls and make him interact with suburban people. She’ll make him recite a poorly-written rhyme at the end of each segment, to express how much he worships her ideas. Bert Newton and Belvedere will sue.

Wisit’s client has the most promising space so far: polished boards, so he won’t have to do any arbitrary re-purposing of carpets, and fairly inoffensive furniture. Of course, Wisit is not Eddie, so he would be polite and charming about his client, even if the place were decorated with macramé and hook rugs. He looks around the office and knocks a plastic basketball ring off a door, so I’m guessing that his use of the adjective “masculine” to define the brief means “blokey”. He hopes to be able to do it tastefully and elegantly.

Andrea’s task is to makeover a reception area into something “warm and welcoming”. The client seems to know exactly what she wants, so if Andrea responds to that she might be able to slip through to another week. Noooooooo! She gets the client to help her move a desk.

And we finally see Preston. His client, Joe, is an environmental consultant. He wants a blue palette because his work deals with water. How… charmingly literal? Preston is pleased. He is a literal man.

Ondine is also working with Joe, on the conference room. Their meeting is brief, but at least he is consistent with communicating his colour preference. He gives her a key. Why don’t the others get keys?

Shopping! It’s all about fabric remnants and (fortunately) the 45 minutes of scrabbling around is edited to a few brief scenes. Preston goes with blues and pinstripes because he “wanted sharp and clean, like a business suit”. He’s consistently literal, at least. Andrea has interpreted her client’s request for “warm earth tones” to mean “hippy chic”. Seriously. Prints and flowers. And maybe stripes. My head is aching in anticipation of the overstimulation. Eddie bitches that he’s having an “allergic reaction” to the remnants. Shut up, Eddie, it’s not dumpster diving! It’s not as though the fabric he describes as “left over from making Granny panties” would have been in contact with old ladies’ old lady bits. And it doesn’t make sense for him to be so dismissive about the hideousness of it – he should be thrilled that the “ewww” factor matches his opinion of his client. Synergy, no? Wisit is aiming for “masculine” but goes with beige and pale green colours, for an inexplicable reason.

More shopping! The “Top Design Showroom Green Area”, in which the designers have 30 minutes and $500 to spend. Nathan avoids furniture, since he’s going to use the existing stuff, so he seems to be picking up things like desk caddies and notebooks. Natalie, always mindful of the judges exhortations for her to “edit, edit, edit”, is looking for colourful and this search seems to be fulfilled for her by two “furry chairs”.

India appears when the clock runs down and orders the designers to line up in front of her. It’s just like kinder. It’s probably time for some apple quarters, milk and a nap. If that’s also what the contestants were thinking, they are in for a surprise. India’s sadistic streak emerges when she tells them that she wants to see how they handle more pressure. She tells them to get out the keys their clients gave them, so obviously Ondine wasn’t the only key-recipient. They pass keys to the right, which means they now have new offices and have to work with whatever the person on their left has bought. I’m hoping Eddie gets Andrea’s “hippie-chic”. Poor Wisit ends up with Natalie’s stuff, and he says it makes him nervous. He is a wise man. Eddie is lucky because he gets Nathan’s client, so he is horribly smug.

Designers now have an hour in their new spaces. Wisit hands over to Ondine and she experiences the cognitive dissonance of “masculine” and Wisit’s fabric choices. Natalie hands over to Wisit, who asks “did she say she liked zebra print?” and – surprise! – she didn’t, that’s just Natalie’s bad taste. Lucky, lucky Wisit. I love Wisit. Burning Natalie’s stuff is timeless advice. Natalie gets Andrea’s “design”, such as it would be. Andrea gets a bizarre edit of Eddie’s client – he’s funky and fun, apparently, and he wants the whole office painted a bright blue. Won’t Andrea be intrigued to see this episode when all’s said and done? Eddie then “accidentally” trashes a desk while trying to move it. I don’t know why somebody with his ego would bother trying to sabotage Andrea. If you can’t beat Andrea without resorting to gamesmanship, you don’t deserve to style covers for Martha. Eddie slavers all over Nathan’s choices and will probably do a great job of it. Nathan thinks Preston’s choices are okay, but conservative, and wants to make it more in line with his own style. I’m sure he’ll be able to do that. Preston gets the conference room to the office he was originally designing, which is probably an unintended development.

Carpenters and seamstresses next. Nathan’s got an idea of using sawhorses to make furniture, which sounds novel if a little impractical; Preston’s following the same ideas he had for before, which makes sense. Andrea’s chippy thinks her paint scheme will make the office look like a Tijuana nightclub. Perhaps El Decor will play there on Sunday afternoons and there will be half price Margaritas! Eddie’s using strange sounds and actions to communicate an idea about a lighting fixture he describes as “funky”. Funny how much he hated that word earlier. Wisit’s having trouble finding some fabric he likes, which is not surprising, given it was selected by Natalie.

Elimination day! Work has continued through the night, so the designers will be able to see how their creations are shaping up. If I were Andrea, I’d be afraid. Very afraid. Indeed, she finds the blue walls “shocking”. Nathan’s sawhorses are yellow and Natalie is upholstering bookshelves. Yikes. Apparently that makes it “art”. Ondine is making a water-bottle chandelier, to show how seriously she takes green design. Hopefully she “found” the water bottles and didn’t buy them especially. Back to Eddie, who helpfully explains that “OTT” means “over the top”. Gee, thanks for the PSA.

Five hours to go. Todd comes in to give some of his warm, exclamation-mark affirming feedback. “Wow!” “Great use of space!” “Really cool!” “That’s good!” “I applaud your decisions!” “That’s nice!” “What a lovely colour!” (Seriously, he said that to Andrea – I want whatever medication this man is on.)

Final speed edit of painting, cutting, slicing and dicing.

The clients come in to check on their designs and give some feedback. Funky dork “loves” everything, so SUCK IT, Eddie. Eddie is still being dismissive of Andrea. Natalie’s client wants recycling bins, so she’s got a few minutes to make those out of some MDF she has lying around. Andrea hates the panels – sorry, art – that Natalie made. Natalie thinks it’s “really stupid” that Wisit didn’t use her “fabulous fabrics”. Unfortunately for Wisit, his client sends a proxy to have a look at how it’s going, so he gets no helpful feedback there.

Time’s up.

Eddie admits that he took some of Nathan’s concepts, but claims to have “pushed it to the next level”. He does give Nathan props for his fabric and colour choices, though. Natalie cops to liking, and therefore using, Andrea’s floorplan, and draws attention to the hideous panels she made. Wisit echoes the judges “edit” vocabulary when describing what he’s done with Natalie’s choices. His office doesn’t seem to impress the judges with the “green-ness”. Ondine’s chandelier looks pretty good and she admits to confusion with Wisit’s choices. India looks shocked to learn that it’s a man’s office and that he wanted a “masculine” aesthetic”. Wisit might be in trouble. Nathan’s sawhorse desk looks good and he’s decorated the small space effectively. Preston’s looks boring but in line with what the client wanted and it does look like a conference room. Andrea’s Tijuana nightclub actually looks pretty inoffensive, although she’s put two strange large wooden boxes – are they lamps? – on a very small desk, so she clearly has no eye for practicality. She babbles and babbles in explaining her work and India and Jonathan look bored.

I don’t know why so many designers decided to chop up existing, serviceable furniture, to make “art”. Hopefully they’ll be pulled up on that in final judging, because that doesn’t seem to reflect eco-friendly design principles.

Judges chat. They have positive things to say about Andrea and Ondine. Jonathan thinks Nathan and Preston know how to decorate a whole room. Danny noticed how pointless Preston’s “recycling” bins were, though. Wisit does seem to be in trouble, and Natalie is “back to being unsophisticated”, which is a surprise only in that it indicates that she has – at some point – achieved something other than un-sophistication. Eddie’s work was “fabulous”, but the carpet on the wall idea was 100% Nathan, so I hope he gets credit for that.

Decision time! Three stood head and shoulders above the rest. Nathan, Preston and Eddie. Nathan looks more than miffed that Eddie doesn’t man up and give him the props for the carpet, but manages a big, warm smile when Eddie wins. Andrea and Ondine are safe. The judges give Wisit a pasting and his eco-choices are called “green-washing”. Natalie is criticised for making the office look like a condo and for making un-green choices by using MDF for her recycling bins. How ironic! Wisit’s body language says defeat and… his body knows what it is talking about. He’s sent packing and I’m sorry because he’s so lovely. Bye, Wisit, I’ll miss you and will be bitter next episode when I have to see more of Natalie’s random decorating and missing-of-the-point, and Andrea’s boring blandness.

Wisit sings us out.

1 comment

1 Top Design - Eco Offices « …blah blog blah… { 03.08.09 at 7:54 pm }

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