Saturday, February 03, 2007

elsewhere in top design world

Once again I have to give a shout out to Linda Merrill's ::surroundings blog for her discussion of Top Design Episode 1. (And not just because her analysis confirms my feeling that Erik and Carisa's room was stronger than it got credit for being!)

I still think that aside from the over-pillowfication and small table it had the best sense of overall visual balance: vertical / horizontal / spacial.


The room is for relaxing right? They didn't plunk a big mattress down; there is another room for that. However I think I see where they were going with this design.

They created a fireplace and set two demure chairs for the cocktails and reparte. Naturally, once the ice is broken -- or melted -- you will want to get into something more comfortable. So you move over to that lovely long curvy velvet couch. Mmmm. It is so tasty and delicious. Of course, when the scene is set so that you are carried away, things happen. And if you should roll off the sofa on to the floor you will want the extra pillows and a big coffee table could be hazardous. It is actually a very well thought out and practical design. And it sure beats a sand pit.

Top Design - Episode 1 Scrapbook - 15
Team Tasty and Delicious
Carisa is darling: so genuine and open. And Erik's my fav.

Anyhoo. I thought their space had a sort of Todd Oldham feel. While nothing they selected is out of keeping with the style of the room, they could have selected accessories more in line with Todd's playful, offbeat style.

Maybe it wouldn't have been Alexis's taste Top Design - Episode 1 Scrapbook 25 but I think it would have been a little more in keeping with the vibe of the five objects.

I suspect theirs was Todd's favorite room. Because Todd and I are very much on the same wavelength. (Note: It is a particularly high-pitched one.)

Anyway, for me, Merrill's blog is an essential supplement to the show. It provides the critique that we aren't able to get because the tv show must focus on entertaining us with the quips of the judges. I'm not criticizing that, mind you. It's half the fun.

Speaking of which, the television without pity recaplet offers the the following zingers:
The celebrity turns out to be Alexis Arquette, with the mystery apparently being, “How in the hell does Alexis Arquette qualify as a celebrity?” [Ahem. - Ed.]

John and Michael narrowly avoid elimination despite the fact that both are convinced that the other one is a complete tool. Boys, boys -- you're both right. [Ahem. - Ed.]
and this gem of an observation of:
the eerie similarities between the voices of host Todd Oldham and Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock

Todd Oldham

Friday, February 02, 2007

margaret russell : observations . 1

INTRODUCTION: One of the main reasons for tuning in to Top Design is to hear what Margaret Russell is going to say. Therefore as regular feature I will be presenting some Margaret Russell's wit and wisdom under a selected edition I haved titled "Observations." The entries will be primarily comprised of epigraphs -- quotations taken from the show. However, I will use my editorial discretion to select the proper form: such as a poem, a koan, a simple statement of design principle, a theatrical note such as an ironic aside, or perhaps some mixed literary-philosophical genre. Here is the first one:

Margaret Russell
edited by kora in hell

| 1 |

that yellow pepper: what was that?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

da bear

and other fables

Why would someone such as myself, a completely irrational champion of the underdog have a soft spot for da big bad bear? Hint: I'm a Cubs fan.

The first fable : chipmunk & bear

I dislike bullies as much as I dislike spoiled brats. Both boys behaved badly. Both were ignorant and intolerant of each other.

But I'm old school. I'm the type who believes in "pitch in and work / work until it's done / learn on the job / you shouldn't have to be told what to do and you certainly shouldn't have to be told more than once / shut up and get me a latte you weenie." Michael's behavior would have made me feel like boxing his ears. And I'm against corporal punishment.

Even so, it is much easier to feel sympathy with Michael what with him being young and sweet and a cute widdle chipmunk and all.

Whereas John was all sweaty and unshaven and blustery. Hard work and experience isn't pretty and charming much of the time.

Most viewers appear to feel this way, based on responses I've seen.

John could learn a lot about style from some of the other designers, including Michael, from whom he did discover that a paint technique with a rag will induce vomiting.

But Michael really missed a unique opportunity to learn from John's skills. Plus John's got that intensive midwestern work ethic that runs so deep in the culture that it is a religious practice, one that is both a virtue and an affliction.

Still, wouldn't you want to hire the type of person who would lay the floor on the diagonal because it looks better that way even though it would take more time -- and then bust his butt to make sure it is done on time?

The second fable : mice & men

These two couldn't be a more perfect pair for reality telavision conflict. They are a version of the country mouse versus city mouse.

country mouse
Michael is the warm cuddly boy who names all the animals on his family's organic farm. In this modern version of the story the country mouse is the one who has the higher status and education and sophistication. This is more of a Martha Stewart upscale bucolic countryside than the more typical middle American rural world of Walmarts and McDonalds.

city mouse . . . or rat?
On the other hand, Big John is the tough guy from the city that gave rise to industrial meatpacking, with its (former) massive stockyards, a city that is still known, poetically at least, as the hog butcher to the world.

They make such great foils for each other and we can easily fit them into character types and story lines we are very familiar with -- that is why they are great for tv. We don't have time to get into the complexity of what they are really like. Ironically, reality tv is actually about finding the simplist fiction.

the third fable : boys will be boys

As for John's "living with the girls" comment. Believe me, one of the forms of homophobia I find especially vile is the idea that the worst thing you can say about a boy is that he resembles a girl. But here are my reasons for not getting too whipped up about this:

1. John obviously doesn't do a very good job editing what comes out of his mouth. In those interviews the producers work to provoke the cast members and John must have been putty in their hands.

2. It seems reasonable that a guy like John might walk into that room and make the snap judgment that he probably didn't have much in common with that group. The reverse would be true as well. What if one of the the other guys walked into a room full of John's (um, so to speak)? Okay, they might run for their lives, so that's not a good analogy.

3. His enthusiasm over Todd Oldham and Alexis Arquette is not what you'd expect from a homophobe. In his interview with BTD John talks about his gay friends. I might be totally off-base on this but I think his comment about "living with girls" was ironic. Then there is the fact that he compares himself to George Michael. Ahem. The problem is that he forgot that he wasn't with his friends so he wasn't in a position where he could get away with that kind of joke (i.e., the people around him didn't know him well enough to know his intent.) I suspect that he has now learned that lesson the hard way.

the fourth fable : simple folks
John's role (or stereotype) is the rough around the edges, working class Chicago bloke who knows a lot about construction, architecture, design -- all on-the-job work experience -- but he lacks sophistication, the kind of sophistication he would have if he were--or appeared--better educated, middle class, gay (or maybe not so butch) and from New York or LA.

After all New York and LA are the style centers. By the time the fashion trends reach Chicago they are officially over. Chicago is the big schlumpy worker in the middle. Statistically Chicagoans have broader shoulders than any other population in the world. Okay I just made that up. My point is that you could actually believe that might be true.

Chicago is not a place for fads. Midwesterners think it is unseemly to call too much attention to themselves. You are being a showoff. And you run the risk of embarrassing yourself. Just look what happened to John.
Now there's a lesson for the rest of you. Don't you go getting any big ideas about going to California and being on a fancy tv show. You'll just embarrass yourself and the family. Did you think about the family John? We pay the price. You don't know the kinds of looks we got at church last week. We may have to become Presbyterians.
Where in the hell am I going with this? Oh yes, I guess I'm just not that outraged by John. From the previews it looks like John is screwed on the flooring and he might get kicked off next week. So I thought I'd point out why I think John's probably an okay guy.

Go Bears.

added 2/7/07: for the fifth fable click here

damned [blog] spot

I lost my post for my blog today when for some reason it didn't save. Maybe I can rewrite some of it tomorrow. . . . I have so many unanswered questions, such as:
Why was Kelly Wearstler wearing a pink-striped carousel awning?

Will Todd stop talking to the cast as if they were on Sesame Street?

& how did the litter box room design win?

The Top Design Producers