Thursday, February 08, 2007

2: felicia carisa erik


The room is stylish and functional. The headboard and the bed (with its storage drawers and side tables) are really wonderful innovations. The look is a very nice design for a more mature, intellectual adolescent boy's room.

However, it does feel a bit like a hotel/upscale dorm room. Some of the problems are due to the fact that they didn't tell designers that this was going to be a kid's room. Other problems are more generic. The desk chair looks uncomfortable (but I could be wrong on that) and there isn't a light on the desk. The desk is too small -- as well as being practical a larger desk would have filled some of that large empty space in the middle. And where are the bookshelves?

In terms of design, I like the bike outline but that makes it feel more like a dorm room. Why wouldn't he put his bike in the garage? The bike hanger would be cool if he had a special vintage bike that he didn't ride but wanted to display.

She didn't seem to be able to grasp where this kid was coming from. She probably sat at the cool kids table and doesn't know anything about the lives of dorks. (If this room's kid is reading this -- or his family: I'm just joking. And I married a physicist & cyclist -- who played chess as a kid -- who is very cool. Although I am a total dork.)

Seriously, where are the bookshelves? Kids who play chess also tend to be readers.

Actually, I'm concerned about the lack of bookshelves in most of the rooms. Have we reached the point where there is no need for bookshelves because kids no longer read books? Just shoot me now.

Go team Tasty & Delicious!


This room is pretty astonishing when you think about the fact that Carisa is still just a student. She has some remarkably great instincts. That bed/headboard/desk is a terrific design. And she has a very vibrant sense of color. These colors are risky for an adult's room and somewhat sophisticated for a child. It works because of the brightness and energy and the light wood and plants provide a more calming element. Furthermore, depending upon accessories this room could be great for a young child or an adult.

As I mentioned in my discussion of the pink rooms, I've been surprised by the lack of innovation in the designers' use of color. (And if Goil does another stark white room he is going on my "to be latered" list!!!)

Those ropes are not strong enough for climbing -- a hammock might have been a better but the ropes are a gesture towards a really good idea. I think it would be great to get some actual (safe and tested) children's climbing equipment and put it in the room: the kinds of things that athletic kids like to have at home to do pull ups and other exercises. A small climbing wall could be fun, but that would have required going to a specialty store.

I think this room has the best use of space. It doesn't have a yawning space in the middle the way that so many of the other rooms do. She doesn't have more furniture she just uses what she has to create a wonderful sense of balance. And that bed/desk design is brilliant.


It isn't all that pleasing to the eye in the way that other rooms are but in the end, when it comes to kids, fun and imagination trumps everything else. Their bedrooms are their retreats, their sanctuaries. (Maybe Erik should have designed a pirate room for Alexis Arquette??!!) Sure it would be more practical to create a room that would transition better into adolescence, but everything in our culture is forcing kids to grow up faster and faster. Let him have a few more years to be a pirate. He has the rest of his life to be into fly-fishing and to decorate with antique maps and old decoys.

All you had to do was look at the face of the kid when he was in this room and you knew that Erik had hit the jackpot. He was in heaven. You could see that Erik was able to really connect with the kid. He quickly discovered what the boy really wanted to be: not a fisherman but a pirate. But of course! Naturally.

That kid quality in Erik is cute (yes, he's adorable) but his rich imagination is a key element in both his skill and his talent. Watching Erik switch gears and reconfigure the room was impressive: and that was a major redesign. He and the carpenter must have built most of the furniture themselves.

And for the record, it is a practical room. There is storage. There is a good desk. My one comment is that the rug is nice but it might be more pirate-y folded up on the end of the bed to be used as a tarp in a storm, matey.

2: john ryan matt

the pink rooms


Well, he had a really really bad day at a really bad time. The room looks like at some point the obstacles became too much and John just hit the wall. The stark split in the floor sort of illustrates the room itself -- it's only halfway there. Frankly, I don't understand why his carpenter couldn't just pick up a cell phone and call and ask about the flooring rather than return from the hardware store with nothing thereby pretty well guaranteeing that John would be kicked off.

What really bothered me was the way that Jonathan treated John during the judging: Jonathan asked him "what happened?" John told him what happened. Then Jonathan sneered that he was full of excuses.

There was no reason for the judges to be gratuitously critical with John. He admitted that the room was a disaster. We could all see that it was a disaster. What was the point of heaping on the insults? That doesn't make for good televised drama. It's just mean.

Clearly John was the one to go. It would have been utterly unfair to choose anyone else. In my previous post I argued that Michael's room was actually very successful in a number of important ways (click here to read) and I think Ryan's room had a number of redeeming qualities. For one, it provided the inspiration for what may be the best catch-phrase of the show.


You may not want to have a room look like a cattery but it is helpful to design with cats in mind. (Ours has "accidentally" broken a number of favorite vases.) Anyway, after a while animals train you to design around them. I think Ryan could have put stuffed animals up on the shelf for the cat to knock down and carry around. It isn't just for the cat: it is also for the amusement of humans. But enough about that.

I'll just note that on a practical level the room doesn't have a desk and everything is a bit too high for a ten year old girl. Or a short adult woman.

Ryan did really hit the nail on the head as far as color. I would bet that magenta is the most popular color for American girls today. And it is a pretty darn fabulous color. (It was my favorite crayola crayon -- in part because I liked the name.)

I can't quite remember but did he choose the wave mural because she is a surfer? It might have been nice to have played up that theme a little more. That said, the boa wins my award for the single best accessory in this episode. (I can't do screen caps so I'm looking for a picture of the girl wearing this -- and one of the client as well . . . ha. ha. ).

Margaret's comment about the Six Feet Under headboard was very funny. I think Matt could have done a headboard like John's (above) perhaps with the black/white reversed which would have been elegant and not so funereal. I'm less excited about the lights than many others have been; I think it would have been better if he'd run them around the top of the room. It feels like oncoming headlights more than stage lights. The dressing table is too small to double as a desk, which is a usability issue. The pottery(?) takes up too much room and belongs in a living room.

Despite my litany of complaints this room is actually rather impressive, mainly for its color palette. That is a wonderful shade of pink. I'm impressed because that color would be very hard to select based on a small paint sample. It could look too fleshy or beige: you really have to know your pinks!

This was the most interesting -- daring, really -- use of color so far. The use of color may be the design element that has disappointed me the most in these designers. Their colors tend to be familiar, popular choices. I like some of them but they haven't surprised me; they haven't taught me something new. (The palette of this room--subtle as it is--may be the most interesting design element I've seen so far. But I'm a color freak.)

Matt's room isn't perhaps youthful and fun enough for a ten year old. Nonetheless, it does feel like a fancy Hollywood dressing room and I think that was very exciting for his client and just what she wanted. The silk chair looks like a fabulous place to curl up and read. As for accessories: it could do with some feather boas. And glitter.

2. andrea & michael

or, you can never have too much glitter

In my previous post (2: elizabeth & goil) I surmised that Elizabeth may have known too much about her client -- but forgot to think about the client's point of view. That is, she looked at the room from the point of view of the mother of a young boy.

On the flip side there's Andrea. Andrea stated in her interview that she grew up with brothers and was the mother of two boys and she really didn't know much about girls. The first thing that popped into my mind was "glitter!" And in the end, it was so sweet and funny because her client's critique of the room was that she wanted to have more glitter.
Here is the thing. Every year I spend time with two nieces (one is actually a daughter of friends but she is like a niece) who are 7-8 now. It is sort of like their art camp with their auntie. I learned this my first year and it has remained true every year: you can never have too much glitter. This is actually the secret to life.

After glitter comes pink, purple, princesses and ponies, in terms of what is important to girls. My nieces are precocious girls whose parents are intellectuals and whose mothers are feminists. But this is their culture. It is insanely girly. Have you seen what is marketed to girls lately? Parents of girls (the parents who have any sort of brain at least) are driven mad by all of this stuff. What can you do? Hope that the girls are smart enough that they will figure it out. We did. Anyway, my point is that you don't have to completely capitulate to this insanely frilly girly girl culture but you gotta work with it. They want to be princesses. Sparkly princesses. Don't we all?
Anyway. First off, I just want to point out that neither Andrea or Michael have a desk and that's just a basic functionality problem.

I like this Tiffany blue with the taupe palette but it feels too much like what we want to make a girl's taste into rather than what it actually is. My biggest problem is that the empty display shelves just scream "I don't have a clue!" I mean that is just a total failure of imagination.

At least Michael knew enough to know that girls like to run around with glittery red shoes and party dresses and butterfly wings. (Not all of them of course!) And Michael put nail polish on the bed and let me tell you something girlfriend that is an extremely important activity!

Okay, there are parts of this that are a little too old but shabby chic is actually one of the strategies my friend uses to negotiate what her daughter wants in her room with something she can live with. The wall colors probably should have been, yes, pink. Pink and white stripes like the door would have been bright. The chair was a little drab. With light enough pink and white he could have used rose reds for accents. He'd have to put up more shelves for the ponies, of course.

But this room is not a failure of imagination. In that way it is much more successful as a room than Andrea's.

I think this room is, in some ways, more successful than Goil's. The nail polish, butterfly wings, party dress, sparkly shoes -- these all speak to knowing something about what it is like to inhabit the imagination of his client. As opposed to a large red plastic pepper?

This much is for certain: the judges were far too hard on Michael. At least Jonathan admits this in his blog. However no one, so far, is cutting Michael much slack on his design. I just hope he didn't get too discouraged by all the negativity. I sense a decorator of great talent there but he is having trouble finding his way out.

2: elizabeth & goil

Practically speaking at least both Elizabeth and Goil provided desks but the rooms were rather low on storage. I thought that they both designed rooms that felt a bit institutional.

I was not as fond of this room as the judges were. To be frank, it feels a bit precious: too "baby Einstein." It looked like a spiffy new test lab in some child cognitive psychology laboratory.

Where are the toys? And what is with that damned pepper again? It's kind of like "eat your spinach" decorating: as if you can shut a child off in a pure educationally stimulating environment where he would develop only tasteful interests and never want to hang posters of his favorite athletes (or movie stars etc) on those Spartan white walls or put up basketball hoops or get a rug and pillows for the floor so he and his friends can sit around and play video games.

At least Elizabeth's room has the sensibility of her client's actual interests. Practically speaking, you could put a group of boys in that room and they could practice soccer and rough house in there and not do a whole lot of damage. The trade off is that despite the bright colors it felt a little bleak because the furnishings were few and spare.

It seemed like the buckets are designed from a "pick your stuff up" point of view. They were supposed to be for his sports collections? It was so sad to see the boy looking at those buckets like, "what the hell??" Kids like to treasure the things they collect not throw them in buckets. It was a tough balancing act and she erred on the side of restraint and practicality. She's the mother of a small boy and she designed as a mom more than as a kid. This may have been a case of being too informed about the subject!!

margaret russell : observations . 2

Margaret Russell
edited by kora in hell

| 1 |
| 2 |
you can't design a room around a cat

by the way,

did you know that

you can’t design a room around a cat?

I : televised episode 2 (repeated in TD montages)
II : blog for episode 2

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

studio 60 : this ends tonight

I’m chiming in with TV Squad and Eric3000 and the folks who are getting fed up with Studio 60. I'm out.

I gave up watching last week. I didn’t even care if it was “to be continued.” The fact that the stories weren't resolved and I would have to watch these stupid plot lines for another week was all the more reason not to tune in this week.

Creepy: What is deal with the psychological warfare Simon is practicing on Darius? I’m just confused. And afraid.

Clichéd: Tom lying to Lucy. Why? Normal people are not this allergic to telling the truth. In the real world women can handle the blow of having a date postponed. And gee do you think that will come back to bite him in the ass?

Creepy: Harriet and Matt. This whole relationship has been preposterous from the beginning, mainly because she is so unappealing. In what way are we supposed to find her convincing as a romantic interest? And she’s supposed to be America’s comedic sweetheart because she makes a dolphin noise? I thought his bidding on the auction was just a silly romantic gesture. You’d think he’d torn out her soul. She was so nasty to him, repeatedly demanding: “What did you expect? What did you think was going to happen?" finally ending with the verbal threat: “This ends tonight.” Oh if only.

Creepy: Danny stalking Jordan. I have no problem with May/December or June/October romances but this is just off. Way, way off. Speaking of which, Amanda Peet is miscast from the get go. Yeah, right. She’s a corporate president. It is a total casting midlife crisis. Sorkin goes from from Christine Lahti to Geena Davis to Amanda Peet. She's Sorkin's casting version of a hair transplant and sports car.

Clichéd: Jordan and Danny sitting on the roof. Enough has been said about this trite scenario. (e.g. "Excuse me while I go find something to jam in my eye. Repeatedly." - Jay Black on TVSquad) As far as I'm concerned, this moronic locked on the roof scene should have only lead to one thing: she should go into labor and Danny must deliver the child. The other thing I kept thinking is, she has got to need to pee by now.

Just plain irritating: The whole Christian thing. This must be written by people who know jack about what it is like to grow up as a practicing Christian in middle America. They appear to be completely unaware of -- or ill-informed about -- the various practices and beliefs of the different denominations. And there are a lot of them. And there are regional differences as well. Some of the errors on the show have been pretty blatant to anyone who is familiar with these things. Furthermore, either the writing is ignorant or they intentionally want Harriet to be utterly idiotic when it comes to her current dealings with these issues.

Now I can go back to watching the New Adventures of Old Christine (that is one godawful title) which conflicted with Studio 60. Even though the kid on the show is really weird, and not in a good way, I adore the character of Matthew, the brother. The actor’s name is Hamish Linklater or something. He is a total scene stealer. I mainly watch for him. Wanda Stiles is fab as well. Actually the whole cast is great. Except for the kid.

Finally, it is interesting to compare Studio 60 to 30 Rock. 30 Rock has become such a favorite that I will watch the reruns. Already. Alex Baldwin’s “pos mems” promotional video last week slayed me even more the second time round.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

dear todd: let me count the ways

I have been negligent in discussing the judges. This is partly because the judges will be there all season and the contestants will not. Or at least most of them will not.

My lack of attention does not reflect a lack of interest in them. On the contrary. I have already discussed my sense that Margaret Russell is going to be the wit of the show. I think that Kelly Wearstler will at least regale us with her wardrobe. I get the sense that Jonathan Adler will be providing us with just as many killer expressions as Margaret Russell.

If this is not a WTF look then I don't know what is:

Also, I sense that there is a lot hovering just under the surface of that giddy exterior of his. (Can things hover under or do they only hover over and simmer under?) But that is for another post.

Today is Todd Time.

Yes, it is true that so far I have only teased him about his stilted demeanor on the first show.

(You have to admit that once the resemblance is pointed out, you cannot get it out of your head.)

Perhaps I have been ignoring Todd because to think of him is to set my heart racing.

I blush.

I stammer.

I hit the F keys.

But, really, can you blame me?

There's cute-cute and there's cute-hot. Cute-cute doesn't age well. Age has been kind to Todd.

Be still my heart.

If I were to acknowledge him I would have to acknowledge that he means more to me than he should.

After all, so many obstacles stand in our way: we have never met; he is gay; I am happily married.

But there will always be naysayers and cynics who want to stand in the way of true love.

It is true that I am unable to face him with my feelings. Literally. I don't know where he is.

And of course, he will never read this, although I'm pretty sure he knows how to read.

Yet my devotion is steadfast.

It began in those early heady House of Style days, when I was swept away by those boyish looks and that low-key demeanor of his lulled me into fantasies of being his hand-made hand-maiden, holding his glue gun as he bedazzles . . .

Um. Anyhoo.

Where was I?

The main point of this post was to list some of the reasons why he and I are soul mates, or at least why I think he's swell (in no particular order):

1. He is into fashion but not the industry.
2. His house is only 1100 square feet. (1)
3. He has a jack russell terrier.(2)
4. He is into crafts and the hand-made (3)
5. He is into typography and letterpress printing.
6. He is into 60s graphic arts.
7. He champions the artist Charley Harper.
8. He is not pretentious.
9. He has fab bicep tattoos.
10. He is against fur.
11. He wears Jack Purcells.
12. He is into mid-century modern. (4)
13. He likes animals, especially birds. (5)
He really thinks about design for people who don’t have money.
15. He seems to be more interested in being kind than looking cool.
16. Added later: He is friends with the wickedly funny Amy Sedaris and if anyone can find the hilarious clip of her on House of Style let me know. It used to be on YouTube but ViaCom made them take it down.

For more information on his projects: todd oldham studio

Coincidence or Kismet?
(1) Our house: 1100 square feet.
(2) I have a wire fox terrier*.
(3) When I was growing up I subscribed to a craft magazine.
(4) Our house was built in 1951 + I have furniture from the
(5) My first sentence was "Look. See the birdie." An imperative, naturally.
I know, it's uncanny, huh?!

Monday, February 05, 2007

back matter

( images added 02/08)

In women and beauty news: tyra banks thinks the media's promotion of unrealistic physical ideals are bad for women and tim gunn says no fat chicks, or two people who should try not talking for once.

1. turning the other cheek

I think the most hilarious tv moment
last week was Tyra Banks' outburst when she was screaming and crying about how she's being called fat. This is Schadenfreude at its best. She's hit the age when it is getting harder and harder to keep the weight off. Welcome to the world of real women, Tyra. And cry me a fuckin' river. She's made millions being the image for an industry that promotes an unrealistic body ideal. Now that she's having trouble living up to it she's realized it is an outrage.

(image added 02/08)

Well before you tell the media to kiss your ass, I think it is time for you to turn the other cheek, Tyra.
She should be kissing the fat asses of all the women who have grown up having her as their beauty ideal.

It is great if she wants to start working on women's body image issues (and will that be part of America's Next Top Model as well?) but first she needs to acknowlege that her success has depended entirely upon the very thing she is now claiming is unfair.

By the way, the best place to see Tyra in all of her insane glory is on fourfour. (Oh Rich. You rule.)

(image added 02/08)

2. more with the zaftig

asked Tim Gunn to comment on the increasingly thin models on the runway and the problems with anorexia. Here are his remarks, in italics:
I don't want to sit and watch a runway show and wince and recoil because that model on the runway looks like she should be in the hospital bed. It's really unsettling and worse yet it's a distraction from the clothes. You really want to see the clothes, you don't want to see the elbow and knee joints.
Yes that is worse. The most annoying thing about looking at a woman who is suffering from a disease that may kill her is that it distracts from the clothes.
Still clothes do look more elegant on lithe figures than those with bulging bellies or double-wide backsides.
I am struck by his description of "bulging bellies and double wide backsides". It suggests that anything that isn't lithe -- is grotesque: women's curves are bulges spreading out across their bodies. You get this hint of a kind of revulsion towards women's flesh.

This reminded me of the"zaftig" debacle during last season's Project Runway which also suggested problems with with women's body size and standards of beauty. These types of offhanded comments about larger size contribute to a culture that is quite damaging to many girls and women. In a way they are the worst because they are so subtle, we hardly notice them.

Now I'm sure that TG didn't didn't intend to offend anyone and that he didn't consciously realize what he was saying. Nonetheless, and here is my first point: he's very good at giving advice, the question is, can he refrain from giving it? Because maybe this is one area where he may just want to not comment.

Moreover can he take advice? Because contrary to popular opinion, there are a few subjects where others may have more sensitive, informed and nuanced views than he does. I'd suggest that this is one of them.

In fact, there has actually been a lot of energy -- not just emotional and political but intellectual, statistical and theoretical -- that has been devoted to the subject of women's body image, including a considerable history of thought on its connection to fashion. Just an fyi.

More on body image: the best woman's body is a man's

(the third text section was moved to its own 02/08 -- this was was not the part that was commented upon -- in fact it was something of a tangent which was why it made sense to move it -- also I added images and expanded the idea)

body image

note: this is a companion posting to back matter (see above)

the best women's body is a man's

The funny thing is, everyone knows that most men like curves on women. They just vary in how much they like and where.

some examples of women's unfashionable "bulges"

There are some, like TG, who focus on the design and there is a very precise figure that is best for the displays of clothes. (A hanger.) For them, the ideal model figure is tall, thin, few curves, little flesh, lithe: basically the figure of a young man.

(image added 02/08)

Most clothes on the runway are designed for that figure (which makes fashion a complete tautology: this body type fits our fashions so we make fashions that fit this body type).

Then there are designers whose inspiration comes from the women who wear their clothes. It may start from their mother or sister or themselves. Think about Michael Kors or Donna Karan. Or Nick or Kayne or Malan. You can tell that they have a passion for making beautiful clothes AND for making women feel beautiful. Jay designs amazing clothes -- works of art -- that can be worn by women of all sizes. Laura looked just as fabulously glamorous in her dresses when she was pregnant.

We don't see this variety on the runway because of a number of things including
  • the industry's lack of imagination
  • the industry's conservative tendency
(additional text and images added 02/08)
  • the enduring popularity of heroin chic (remember Cindy Crawford?)
Is that the curve of a woman's a belly I see??!!
Quel horreur!!!

The industries of fashion and beauty make so much money on our ongoing attempts to turn ourself into an impossible ideal. Sure we buying into it as adults so it is partly our responsibility to reject this ideal. However, this starts early on in the lives of young girls -- in children -- who are so easily manipulated by media, so cynically manipulated as well.

The average ten and a half year old girl believes:
  • Old people can’t be beautiful (97%)
  • Only flawless skin can be beautiful (92%)
  • Tanned skin is beautiful skin (83%)
  • You have to be slim to be beautiful (73%)
  • Blonde hair makes you beautiful (66%
This is the reason why women blame the industry. One could argue that the fact that this leads to a number of life threatening diseases makes fashion and beauty no better than the tobacco industry. Throw in the issue of fur and they could be added to the concerns of the Bureau of ATF -- ATFFB (Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Fashion and Beauty)!!!

Anyway, Eileen Fisher and Dove Soap have had successful campaigns celebrating the appearance of "real women".
real women have curves

Sunday, February 04, 2007

town | gown

I saw it coming.

I was just wondering when -- and how -- the bow was going to break.

One of his dearest moments was when Tim Gunn asserted with intensely sober conviction that:

"Project Runway is nothing without its integrity."

God love him but this statement was utterly preposterous. Commercial television is not about integrity. Reality television even less so. He finally had to realize that in doing Project Runway he was working for Bravo and not for Parsons.

Having a current professor from a highly respected university in a primary role for a reality television program was a radical idea to say the least. Frankly, I'm sure that Gunn's involvement with the show raised some eyebrows if not some hackles at Parsons. At least I would hope so. An institution is really in trouble when everyone goes along without objecting.

There would be some who'd think that Project Runway did not reflect the academic level or pedagogy or basic philosophy of the institution. It would raise questions about conflict of interest; standards of excellence; and institutional image. These are not trivial matters.

I'm not saying that Tim Gunn presented anything less than an image of excellence. I'm just saying that despite his calm exterior and debonair manner he was actually treading through a minefield. It was inevitable that something had to go.

He wasn't going to give up the opportunities that he was now being offered, and why should he? Furthermore, his move into corporate world will now allow him to give back to Parsons. For one, he is going to be raising a lot of money for them. Not just because he will have a substantially higher income. He will also be establishing ties to people who earn the really big bucks. The development office must be giddy.

It seems impossible, but, yes, Tim Gunn is going to be loved even more than he is already. After all, which is better:

A. for Tim to be the department chair who is flitting about doing interviews on inane infotainment tv shows, earning buckets more cash than everyone else, regularly seen gushing over the kind of design work that is not respected by at least some of his colleagues (hypothetically speaking of course . . . not that academia is petty and jealous or anything)
B. for Tim to have a important position in the fashion industry that allows him to provide student internships, hire graduates and raise funds for the institution?

At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do for Liz Claiborne. I mean, it has fallen into the style pit of mom-jeans. And did anyone catch the reference to shopping at the Liz Claiborne Outlet on The Office?

: There is a Liz Claiborne outlet. I know you like that store. Go inside and shop until I can meet you.
Jan: How do you know I like that store?
Dwight: Many of your blouses are Claibornes.
Jan: How do you know that?
Dwight: It’s part of my job.
Jan: No, it’s not. It’s officially not.
Dwight: Noted.

The Office 3.3 The Coup