Reality TV

Dishing Top Design – Episode #2 Open Thread

February 7, 2007

Don’t forget… Top Design is on tonight at 10/9c (an hour earlier than last week, thank God.) Then come back here, meet me on this thread, and we’ll dish like last week. Here’s our thread from the premiere episode, if you’d like to catch up. It’s pretty funny to read through all 40 comments, here are a few that stood out…

Dishing Top Design - Episode #2 Open Thread“Alexis Arquette was in the Wedding Singer and other movies–part of the Arquette clan of actors. Famous in LA for a drag show and underground performance stuff. Weird choice… I think the Elle Decor editor was horrified.” – Anon

“I thought the Heather/Lisa room looked like a typical catalog page for World Market or Pier One or something. Boring.” – Becky

“Just wanted to say that I didn’t like the Elle Decor judge very much either…she just seemed very snobby and mean. Trying to be Nina, but in a not-cool way.” -K

“For some reason home design shows always feel outdated and tacky…I’ll keep watching and try to be open minded.” – Lena

“Hated the swing.” – Jaime

“I think this show has promise, like annon said a minute ago, it seems very “Design Star” right now.” – Cortney

“Was anyone else distraced by Todd Oldham’s Mystic Tan and overdone makeup?” – Anon

“Adler’s vases! I was distracted by those vases gracing every interview and wish they would scrap them. I cannot believe he allowed this frankly tacky display of his products.” – Casapinka

“I felt really uncomfortable with Todd Oldham. As much as I wanted to like him, he’s lacking in the excitement catagory.” – John

“Sort of sympathised with Elle Decor woman not looking very impressed with any of it as I wasn’t either. Didn’t much like her though. She is far too skinny to be involved in something as voluptuous as design and I have to say that I’ve been profoundly unimpressed with Elle Decor since I got here (compared with the UK or French editions).” – Paola

Read more comments here and after the show tonight, meet me here and let’s dish!

See you later, decorators (gulp!).


  • Reply Anonymous February 8, 2007 at 3:39 am

    I think you can design a room around a cat!

  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 3:56 am

    Yes indeed!

    This show makes me laugh sometimes.

  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 4:06 am

    -Todd Oldman is gloriously sweet!

    -I think Goil and that Pirate room were my faves. I didn’t get the whole praising of the animal room. That unfinished wood was horrifying.

    -What is up with “See you later Decorator”? This disturbs me.

    -The whole HIV confessional was a bit uncomfortable and not needed. I also noticed some of the smirks circling around the room. Not cool.

    -Those vases in all the interviews again. WHYYYYYYYYYY?

    -I don’t get these challenges at all, these would never happen in the real world so, as a viewer, I don’t feel I’m learning anything new or interesting.

    -“He’s an aging prize fighter on some level” Ryan on John. What was that comment all about??

    I want to meet Todd Oldman, he is adorable!

  • Reply kate (pm) February 8, 2007 at 4:41 am

    yeah, I think a room can be designed around a cat, too.

    Still, I think it overtook this particular design. I think that’s what Margaret meant. Her remark was very edited. I would have been nice to hear more of her comments in that discussion. At least her sentence before/after the “can’t design room around a cat” comment. Anyway, I thought the room seemed rather uncomfortable to use.

    I think Carissa, despite the rough edges, did a nice job. The little boy looked so happy in it.

  • Reply becca February 8, 2007 at 4:51 am

    Didn’t Todd Oldham seem much more comfortable this week than last week? He seems like a really sweet guy.
    This isn’t related to the rooms, and I think Kelly Wearstler seems incredibly nice, and I looooove her as a designer, but I am really surprised by her clothes. She is 38 (and gorgeous, hope I look that good in 7 years!!) a mother of 2 and a professional, but what the heck was she wearing? Fingerless gloves? That childish dress? My first thought was “Oh, that outfit would be so cute… for Rachel Bilson to wear in her role as a teenager on The OC!” There is some clip where they show her outfit from next week and I believe there are turquoise and black striped tights. Hmmm.
    Okay, the rooms. The “Jungle” room was kind of cool in concept but I can’t imagine most young boys liking that room.
    I think you CAN design a room with a cat in mind, but the surfer/painter/cat room was the worst in my opinion. I think Kelly was the one who pointed out that there was no way to get in or out of that bed without hurting yourself.
    Many of the rooms just felt too adult for kids.
    Goil’s was my favorite – kid-friendly, modern, modular.
    Holly, I agree that HIV confessional was odd. I was surprised that a roomful of adults acted so immature about it, although it’s likely they were caught off guard. Ryan’s comment was just bizarre.
    I’m not a designer but I can see how a designer would see these challenges as unrealistic. I mean, you aren’t going to get 4 words describing a client, several thousand dollars to spend, and then find out after you’ve done all of your shopping that your client is a child. Ridiculous.
    Thinking back over the episode, the funniest thing was when Felicia (she did the chess room) was going over her initial plans with Todd and she told him she was going to do a king sized bed for “when he has a lady over”. Todd made kind of a funny face and I didn’t know why at the time. Then later you find out her client is 10. Hahaha. I don’t know any 10 year old boys who are allowed to have ladies over.
    I think I’m out of comments, and really tired, just wanted to join in on the post-show chat at decor8!
    See you later decorators?!?!?!

  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 5:15 am

    Kate (pm) – I agree, I’d love to hear the unedited bits. I’m going to check out bravo on the web to see if they have any spare clips. I actually like Margaret a lot – she says what I’m thinking. She’s so very New York editor, isn’t she? Totally fits that stereotype. Cool and tactless, Devil Wears Prada. But, I’m sure behind closed doors, she is amazingly warm and sweet. I grew up down south around women who hug and kiss and feed everyone corn bread on the front porch – but you never know what they are really thinking about you. With Margaret, you know – and I respect that.

    Becca – That chess room comment “where he has a lady over” was funny in retrospect, wasn’t it? Well, he is 10… Those days are only a few years away nowadays. :) As far as the designers being given a paper with words and expected to design a room around that without meeting the client – well, this is common in design school. At least that is how I was trained. We had to draw a slip of paper from a jar and that was our client. Each slip had words that described the client, along with our budget amount. But that was that. Then we’d go out and design our boards and present them to the class, including a report that described our client and why we selected what we did. (I put a board I did on ‘slip client’ in my flickr pool from class a few years back if you want to see an example of this). But again, we didn’t get any strange twists thrown in halfway through the project. The whole kid part was strange, simply because in design, you design a room very differently for a child vs. an adult because of their size. But it’s television, I guess we can’t expect it to make sense!! :)

    Here’s my design board based on a slip client:

  • Reply Anonymous February 8, 2007 at 5:24 am

    I definitely respect J. Adler as a professional (we all do) but he is really bad on the show. Mazel Tov! I can’t believe he just said that (and I’m Jewish too!) He’s trying way too hard–it’s embarassing. (Zoloft, Mayor of Excuses Village!???) Eeek- He’s dinner theater bad (and not in a droll campy way)!

  • Reply melissa February 8, 2007 at 6:57 am

    I agree that the unrealistic challenges just aren’t working. They did similar things on Project Runway (make an outfit out of stuff you bought at the grocery store!) and Top Chef (make an appetizer out of vending machine food!), but I think those worked, for the most part, because they were really about forcing innovation and creativity. The way to translate that idea into design challenges, I think, would be to place limitations on budget and materials. To force the designers to create something beautiful out of things that might not normally be seen as beautiful, for instance. Holly, you were blogging about this the other day, about the joy of finding those hidden treasures at flea markets — the kinds of things most people overlook. What a way to highlight real talent and creativity in a designer! Or they could give everyone the *exact same* materials, plus paint and $100, and see what they come up with. Or they could do a “studio apartment” that needs to contain clearly delineated sleeping and living areas in the same space — hello, usefulness + high degree of difficulty. As things stand, the challenges just involve working with great high-end materials under irritating conditions — like if they had forced the “Project Runway” designers to sew their garments downwind of a smelly paper mill, in a 98-degree workspace, and nonstop polka music blaring in the background. Or something.

    If “Top Design” ends up being 12 episodes of $1700 Pacific Design Center lamps, I’m just not sure how interesting it’s going to be.

  • Reply casapinka February 8, 2007 at 9:05 am

    I thought that comment about having a lady over was very funny as well. I think Todd must have been cringing inside with “See you later, Decorator.” It’s just so canned it’s almost funny. He is doing a lot better this week. Yes, you can design a room around a cat. Don’t they adverise Kohler in Elle Decor? Well, a tap isn’t even ALIVE and you can design a room around it, for pete’s sake. I don’t think Margaret is as bad as everyone says. A woman in her position is bound to be labeled the bitchy one. Wasn’t Jonathon’s tie adorable? So establishment, in a green kind of way. I missed the HIV comment – you guys have me curious now. All in all, I am rather disappointed with the show. Get out of PDC already!

  • Reply casapinka February 8, 2007 at 9:06 am

    And those dagblasted vases were still there!

  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    casapinka – great thought – if you can design a room around a faucet then you can design a room around a cat for that matter. i mean, in the end, were they not asked to design the room around a kid? for some, a cat is their kid!!!

    melissa – i want to be on YOUR show with those fun realistic challenges. yeah! you have some great ideas. i especially liked your ‘polka’ comment – my tea nearly came out of my nose on that one. very cute.

    anon – I have to google ‘mazel tov’ as i have no clue what that means. i did hear him say ‘merci’ at one point. i think starbucks french italian is confusing us all.


  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Okay I’m back. Mazel Tov means Good Luck.

  • Reply Anonymous February 8, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    I thought this episode was a bit better than the first, but still withholding judgement for later!

    As for designing a room around a cat… sure you CAN – but you shouldn’t. Cats don’t live that long and accidents happen. Let’s say you spend $8,000 on this room and the day after you finish the little girl’s kitty runs away and never returns, or gets hit by mom’s giant SUV while she’s backing down the driveway. I am thinking you now have a very expensive room that reminds a sad little girl of how much she misses her kitty EVERYTIME she enters that room.

    That’s just me!

    And i totally agree about the fingerless gloves! Yikes!


  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Fingerless gloves, where? I missed those. I can’t say I’ve even noticed what Kelly wore last night. I’m so hung up on Todd’s adorable wardrobe and Jonathan’s “weekend on palm beach” look. They both have great personal style, don’t you think?

  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Did you guys read Jonathan’s blog on Bravo? He talks all about his catchphrase, “See ya later, decorator”. It’s so funny how he writes about it, as well as his life as a potter and his partner, Simon who is a window dresser (or what we’d called a visual display merchandiser). Read his blog here, it’s totally funny:

  • Reply paola February 8, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Am I the only person who absolutely HATED the pirate ship? I thought it was gloomy and cluttered, looked impossible to clean and would have been a real liability when, six months down the road, the boy’s enthusiasms turned to something else.

    And how come Elizabeth’s room was marked down for being too much about football, when surely the pirate room had a tad too much ‘pirate’ going on?

    I thought the cat room was OK. The idea was fun and all he’d really created was a high shelf which could have been used in all sorts of ways if not for the cat. And children like climbing on and off beds (though a agree a ladder or step would have helped).

    My favourite rooms were the jungle room, despite the raw edges, and the Hollywood room (just LOVED the embedded lights). Both fitted their briefs and were child-friendly without being cliche’d.

    Whatsisname with the granny room should have lost – it was just an appalling piece of design – but his face when he said ‘department store’ was TV gold.

    Elle Decor woman still annoying me, not so much for her demeanour, but for the fact that I don’t like her taste AT ALL and she seems to hold a lot of sway with the other judges.

    I thought the challenge was OK. Agree it was not realistic, but it was interesting to see how some of the designers had made all sorts of preconceptions about their clients which weren’t in the brief, and seemed unable to change or modify those preconceptions even when they proved to be demonstrably false (eg. the side tables too far from the single bed). I’m not an interior designer, but surely it must sometimes happen in a project that a major re-think is required when some important fact about the client is suddenly revealed.

    Anyway, have written a book so will stop ranting.

  • Reply Anonymous February 8, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Enough about this show! I’m anxiously awaiting the next 2007 Design Trend — Beachy Keen.

  • Reply becky February 8, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    The “design” on this show is so boring. The PDC does not equal a trip to Mood. Todd does not equal Tim, Jonathan does not equal Heidi. Much as I love Jonathan, he SUCKS on TV. Worse than poor Todd, whom I also love.

    SInce the show is so lame, here is what my thought process was like…

    “Wow, that carpenter is HOT!”

    “Kelly W. is really pretty but what is off, I can’t figure it out…”

    “Micheal is scaring me. Look at those beady little cross-eyed eyes. And someone please wax his chin. Why would anyone ever have chin hair like that? I think his head is about to spin around and he’s going to vomit pea soup, and scream REDRUM…what is wrong with him???”

    “Hey, is that ‘department store’ a Target? The carts are red. Is Target really a department store? I thought Neiman’s was a dept. store, and Target was a Big Box store.”

    “Did Michael really say ‘pooping a brick’? I think he thinks he has some sort of fun gay charm but trust this hag, he really is just creepy and his beady little eyes and chin hair are really starting to freak me out.”

    “John just said ‘FUSTRATED.’ That is right up there with people saying ‘LYE-BERRY’ for me.”

    “Add ‘GLAM IT UP’ to the pet peeve list along with ‘make it pop’ and ‘it’s a very Zen space’.”

    “OK, it’s something freaky about Kelly’s expression that freaks me out. What is it???…”

    “why are Felicia’s lips SO wet looking? Is that Wet-n-wild? Someone give her a tissue for a big blot.”

    “Why does Goil always put random fruits and vegetables on the floor?”

    “OH, I GET IT! KELLY O.B.’d*!!!”

    *Over-Botoxed. So THAT’S what that looks like! It took me the whole hour to figure it out.

    The only room I liked was the black, white, and pink one with the lights in the walls. The jungle room was kinda cute and not too over the top like the pirate room was.

  • Reply becky February 8, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    OH, P.S. Nothing against cats, but the guy who did that room should have been sent home just for wearing that blue and pink hideous blazer.

  • Reply decor8 February 8, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Becky your posts always make me die laughing, as does Paola’s. I’m hoping John T. from LA joins in the fun, I loved some of his comments last week.

    Paola – I think Elizabeth’s room really was all about soccer because that was really all you could do in that space. A bed and a soccer net and tons of floor space. At least in the pirate room, the kid had end tables, ropes, a desk to do his homework, a hiding space (or to stowaway toys) etc. I think that is what she meant, maybe???? I loved when Margaret said She really hoped the boy liked Pirates and wasn’t just saying that on a whim. Her face glowed and it came out so darn cute.


  • Reply Anonymous February 9, 2007 at 12:10 am

    I agree with Melissa. The show seems to be less about creativity and more about luck. I’m sure they all could have come up with awesome designs if they met their clients from the start. I hope the show improves on this and that they leave the studio. Those boxy rooms just seem so awkward to me.

  • Reply Anonymous February 9, 2007 at 4:14 am

    I think that having these crazy challenges is a good thing for a competition on tv. What do you expect? A month and a $50,000 budget, come on, that isnt very exciting. (if you want that, watch Extreme Makeover) Its good for designers to get OUT of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to think outside of the box.

    Its kind of sad that these designers couldnt recover from a curve ball like this one. Have fun with it! Didnt they shop at Target? come on peeps, they have a kids section, cant be too hard to accessesorize.

    Someone please tell the EIC of Elle Decor to lighten up! I’ve met here and she is as bitchy as you can imagine, though she has a very nice office., very white and grey.

    I totally agree with melissa, enough of the Pacific Design Center, (nice free ad placement for all those designers)

  • Reply decor8 February 9, 2007 at 4:42 am

    anon – you’ve met the EIC of Elle? How??

  • Reply Anonymous February 9, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    becky, your comments cracked me up! I am so adding OB’d to my vocabulary – thanks for that! I see women who do this all the time and I’ve never had a term for it, OB’d is perfection.
    And you’re right, it looks like KW OB’d. She only can make one facial expression, and it’s kind of a happy-but-slightly-lost-and-yes-I-drank-the-kool-aid look. The expression combined with the child-like clothing freaked me out a bit, but I still love her as a designer.
    Paolo – the look when he said “department store” WAS tv gold! Hee!

  • Reply becky February 9, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    I have to say, I am somewhat stealing “O.B.’d” from “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka” where one guy “O.G.’d” (over-golded) He had on more gold necklaces than Mr. T and it killed him.

    I wonder if the show thought it was going to get big bucks from Target for having them shop there and then didn’t. Why else wouldn’t they say “you have $300 to spend at Target?”

    Was that “Home Sweet Home” pillow from the Simply Shabby Chic collection? If so, Shabby Chic style certainly has fallen a long way.

  • Reply decor8 February 9, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Yes, that was from the Shabby Chic collection at Target, I just saw it a few days ago… It’s sad because I met Rachel Ashwell a few years ago and we had such a nice chat. Her stores in LA are really pretty and she was just so laid back and nice. But honestly, the moment she took her line into Target, was the moment she lost her clout. At least here in the northeast, no one cares about the Shabby Chic brand any longer, and you never hear about her anymore.

    Yeah, if I were Rachel, I would have cringed at that comment. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I didn’t think that pillow was horrible. It was the entire room that was horrible which made the pillow looked Nursing Home Chic more than Shabby.

  • Reply decor8 February 9, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    one request: when you anon people comment, can you at least make up alias names if you don’t want to be known. it would be easier to reply to your comments directly!!

  • Reply Zita February 10, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Hi, I have a question:
    from Episode #1
    Ryan’s and Andrea’s room, who is the designer of the mirror on the wall, would you know?


  • Reply becky February 11, 2007 at 12:07 am

    I think the Simply Shabby Chic Target line was made in a way so it would not compete with the regular expensive Shabby Chic line. I think the whole look is somewhat over (though lovely in cottages and can be modernized, and I think Rachael kept letting the general principals of the aesthetic evolve in a modern direction on her show and her non-Target products.) The furniture and linens from the regular line were fantastic quality – I never sleep better than I do on Shabby Chic sheets. It’s unfortunate that the current line at Target is so dated looking and quite a few steps back from Rachael’s taste now, IMHO.

    OK, total sidetrack from Top Design! I’m the queen of tangents!


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