Friday, March 23, 2007

doing lunch or losing lunch

top design 1.7

Marcia, Jan and cousin Oliver are complaining about Cindy when they get a note from Todd: “There’s a car waiting downstairs to take you to lunch.”

Goil: "What does that mean?"

The other two helpfully translate the note for Goil.

Matt: "There’s a lunch."

Michael: "And a car waiting downstairs."

At the restaurant Todd explains that the assignment is to design the space for a chef’s table in a restaurant.

Todd: "the client's style preferences are very unusual: nature, the hand-made, Arts and Crafts, Mid-Century Modern." [See previous posting.]

The designers freak.

Andrea says that these are "colliding aesthetics." She runs screaming from the room.

They all start banging on the door to get out, yelling Help! Help!

Matt spews obscenities. Goil builds himself a rolling cubby and crawls into it. Michael howls at such a high pitch that all of the dogs in a ten mile radius begin to bark.

Carisa informs us that Arts and Crafts is a 20th century movement illustrated by Frank Lloyd Wright. Well... I'd give that definition partial credit--but less than half. [See previous posting.]

Goil: "I'm confused. How can I bring together modernism and art and craft?"

The way he says it makes me wonder if he is thinking of art and craft in the non-design movement way.

At the end of lunch Andrea is the only one who has the good manners to offer a toast. Her simple “cheers” would suffice for the situation but Todd oddly adds: “to a lovely adventure” like they are leaving on a vacation.

I think that in Todd-land everything is a lovely adventure. It would explain a lot, wouldn't it?

Michael tells a florist: "I want an arrangement that is like a piece of nature coming inside."

The florist gives him a look that says one of three things:
1. You mean like the kind of thing you would get at a florist?
2. You mean you want me to do your job for you?
3. Get out of my shop you imperious little snot.

As an unrelated aside, who in the hell does all of this sewing and upholstering in record time? How come they don’t get any credit? Is there some PDC sweat shop where undocumented workers are sewing 24 hours a day in order to get this stuff done on time?

Compared to Project Runway this show is rather dicey in terms of sharing credit for all of the labor. That is one of the things I like about Candace Olsen over on HGTV. Her whole team always gets credit for the work they do.

"This is hard for me to do because it is about natural materials and I am plastic and artificial."

She said it.

Matt: "I am thinking outside the box."

Oh Matt. Don’t you know that saying something this hackneyed is proof that you are not?

Michael is painting art that looks like a crime scene. He is creating a chef’s room for Hanibal Lecter.

Goil is having another one of his fucking tantrums. Poor Sarah. She’s had to be both a carpenter and a babysitter.

Speaking of which, Carisa is getting bratty and pissy with Carl.

Carisa: “It’s not the Carl show. It’s my show.”

People have a hard time finding the right balance asserting authority. Either they under-play it, like Goil and Matt, and are passive aggressive. Or they overplay it, like Michael and Carisa, and are bossy. It is a sign of insecurity, which doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Carisa starts to get a bit power mad.

Carisa: “You’re fired! You’re fired! You’re fired! You’re out of order! You’re out of order! I’m the decider! The carpenters serve at the pleasure of Carisa!”

Meanwhile, back at planet Goil, we learn that Goil considers himself a sort of Spicy Superman.

Goil: "I can usually muscle it out but my most fabulous power is diminishing and my competitors are becoming stronger.”

Gosh darn reality! Another delusion of grandeur destroyed by the real world.

I think Goil needs to open himself up to a genre outside of comic books and sci-fi. He might want to read a book by an author who will introduce him to the anti-hero. Perhaps Beckett.

At one point Todd does the most hilarious thing. He looks at Goil’s paint stripes -- which are a mess because they bled through the tape -- and he pretends that Goil did this on purpose.

Todd: “Emphasize that your wavy lines are intentional”

Oh Todd. From anyone else that would seem snarky.

Goil: "My secret weapon is my plant lamp, which has a sacred power given to me by Buddhist monks. The plant lamp is the Excalibur of Thailand."

Goil then claims that his aesthetic is shaped by the colors of the culture he brings with him from Thai temples. Yeah, all those temples that are white boxes on wheels.

Oh Goil. That’s a bit “ancient Chinese secret” isn’t it? Do you take us for complete idiots?

Yes? You do?

Okay. Fair enough.

Back at the Brady house, the girls are talking about the ugliness of Cindy's room: "Cindy can't play house for shit."

Speaking of playing house, Matt tells us that: "My wife and daughter say that if I don't win I shouldn't bother coming home." (I refer you to Pink Navy’s Matt Lorenz Drinking Game).

In the White Room Jonathan Adler is wearing a piece of orange carpeting as a tie.

Kelly is FABulous. She is a kind of mad over-the-top Edward Gorey/Tim Burton school mistress/secretary/dominatrix. The hair is gorgeous. I don’t care what anyone else says. If I had a team of stylists and a plumber on my staff I would grow my hair long again and wear it like that.

Andrea’s room wins. Hers is luxurious and elegant. I’m not that into the black and white palette although she does warm it up with the muted colors from the slate and the suede walls. The lamps are lovely and she has a side table to die for.

Matt’s room is beautiful. Somehow he made a brown and orange room aesthetically pleasing. That boy is a wizard with color.

I think Carisa’s room is ugly but that may be because I don’t like blue very much. It is also unfinished. She blames Carl. Bad idea. Nevertheless, she does have the most beautiful table: very George Nagashima.

The judges think Michael’s room is ugly (I don’t think it is as ugly as Carisa’s) and don’t like that the chairs don’t match. Jonathan says the rug looks like it was from an airport or casino and he would know, since that is where he got the fabric for that hideous tie.

Goil’s room is -- surprise! -- another white box! It is stark and cold. It has nothing to do with the aesthetics that Todd outlined.. Nothing matches. Not even the silverware. It feels cheap. It doesn’t look like 10K was spent there let alone 40K.

Tom asks Goil about his room. Either Tom is being polite or he is being ironic when he says that Goil's room is either brilliant and individualistic or totally misconceived and confused.

Goil gets excited and defensive and blathers something about this being “his” chef’s room and “his” individual experience. Which is weird because he was supposed to design this for the client, i.e., Tom. He picks up on some of the words Tom used and tries to dig himself out of the hole. Tom isn’t buying it.

Of course the other judges lap it up. They convince themselves that even though the room sucks it is filled with innovations. It's the usual tautology: because it is Goil’s room it must be innovative.

Then they make the designers stab each other by asking them which room they wouldn’t want to eat in. Apparently this challenge actually about finding out which room was the least appetizing. (You know that this was the the idea of the producers – to ensure that the remaining four are all mad at each other for the rest of the season.)

Matt and Carisa say Goil’s room because they don’t want dead plants falling into their food. Andrea and Goil say Carisa’s room because they hate Carisa.

Michael takes the high road and refuses to answer. Good for him. Anyway, we already know from his relentless gossiping that he would have said Carisa but it is to his credit that he didn't do it in front of the judges. For his insistance on holding on to the last remaining scruple that reality television hasn't already stripped him of, he is kicked off.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

collision course

Todd describes the clients style preferences as having an unusual range: nature, the hand-made, Arts and Crafts, and Mid-Century Modern.

Hold on a minute. (I'm afraid I'm going to have to be insufferably pedantic so bear with me. This won't last long and it should be relatively painless.)

There is absolutely nothing unusual about this range of styles. In fact this is a distinct design lineage that fits together perfectly.

For some reason this combination of tastes causes the designers to freak out. They seem to feel that Mid-Century Modern and Arts and Crafts are “colliding” styles, as Andrea puts it.

Architects might be more inclined to see the two styles as colliding if they think of modern architecture in terms of the international style rather than in terms of residential architecture, but this show is not called Top Non-residential Architect.

One problem is that the designers seem to be fixated on the idea that Mid-century Modern = Eames which they define (if they have any idea of it at all) as a focus on mass-produced, machine made, the use of new materials and bright colors. This is a very narrow description of Mid-Century Modern (as well as the work of Charles and Ray Eames). Mid-century modern also included designers like Isamu Noguchi who uses organic shapes and natural materials, just to take one of many examples.

Basically the designers seem to have a rather fuzzy understanding of the Arts and Crafts and Mid-century Modern movements.

Carisa informs us that Arts and Crafts is a 20th century movement illustrated by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Oy. Carisa is not exactly wrong. The trouble is that this is not exactly the right definition of the Arts and Crafts movement.
  • Arts and Crafts is primarily a 19th century movement.
  • It started in England with William Morris.
  • Its most important American figure is Gustav Stickley.
  • It is associated with mission style furniture and bungalow architecture.
Frank Lloyd Wright is considered part of the Arts and Crafts movement—particularly his early Prairie School work. However, his work falls at the very end of the Arts and Crafts movement and marks its transformation into modernism. In many respects Frank Lloyd Wright is a bridge between Arts and Crafts and Mid-Century Modern which is one reason why they are not such “colliding” styles.


Linda Merrill's :: surroundings has a nice post on arts and crafts movement with a variety of images including several Frank Lloyd Wright homes. You can see the difference between his earlier bungalow style in the Robie house and the later modernist lines of Falling Water.

And while I'm at it, I'll remind you that Chicago is the architectural locus for both the Prairie School and the Modern/International style (discussed in this earlier post).
Why does Bravo do this? It is such a disservice to viewers to not use this as an opportunity to educate viewers. Or at least let them know what the hell everyone is talking about.

a few resources :

arts and crafts isamu noguchi (brand new site: he's a favorite.)

frank lloyd wright -- some basic sites
charles and ray eames -- basic sites
mid century modern
on the web this is basically a commercial category; the best thing would be a book list (forthcoming)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

margaret russell : observation 6

| 6 |

Even decades later, people are still talking about
Truman Capote’s legendary Black and White ball,
the launch party for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium scent,
and the birthday bash that Malcolm Forbes threw in Morocco.

My biggest disappointment,
however, was the flowers.


But “furry” is an
adjective for pets
and stuffed animals,
not flowers.


The wall of lemons
wasn’t a wall,

and the chandeliers
weren’t chandeliers either.