Saturday, April 14, 2007

margaret russell : observation 10


| 10 |
The Love Song of Margaret "Elle" Russell

Even in its nearly gutted condition,

the loft was seductive . . .

. . . with a gutsy, industrial feel

and walls of amazing windows

I visited while
at the nearby
flower market.

He paired
deep aubergine walls

with a glittery chandelier.

Stunning and stunningly expensive,
his bath is
...................just plain sexy.

I was surprised
that I was so
crazy for that
...................round sunken bed.

the marie antoinette

Matt's idea of basing his design for Lily's room on the concept of "Marie Antoinette" is a brilliantly wickedly creative and chic solution to the "you want to be a princess" mantra that is being shoved down the throats of every little girl from every direction of our consumer culture. They are powerless against it. (See links below.)

Perhaps Matt could market this decor with the slogan:

The Marie Antoinette :
the room your little princess will lose her head over


What’s Wrong With Cinderella? One mother's struggle with her 3-year-old daughter's love affair with princess culture. By PEGGY ORENSTEIN The New York Times Magazine | December 24, 2006

For more go to my post "consuming girls" which has links to other postings and articles related to the topic.

finale | the best

in no particularly significant order

super todd
In my constant pursuit of more ways to have Todd Time I think that it would have been nice to see him do home visits like Tim does on Project Runway.

the santa fe building windows
I don't think that either designer lived up to the architecture -- although Carisa did better than Matt in that regard.

carisa's use of repeating squares

This touchstone of Carisa's style worked well for the space, picking up on the windows. I have a few quibbles: she might have varied it or broken it up to pick up on some of the other aspects of the architecture -- the transoms for example. I also thought it was a bit heavy as a divider (breaking up that lovely expanse of windows). I also hate to see the grid below go empty of books when it looks like such a great reading corner. I also like the introduction of browns and beiges.

matt's grandfather's prints
I thought that the red tint was an especially nice touch.

matt's work style
He's a pro. (You can see why Carisa is in such a panic: even with all of Matt's organization things can still get crazy.) It probably says more about me that watching another hyper-planner at work is what I consider good television. Ooooh! Look at his office supplies!!! I wish they'd zoom in on his tabs so I can see how he color-codes! And honestly -- I'm curious about the slides. What are the slides for? I thought art historians were the only ones who used slides anymore.

carisa's bed
(and jonathan, margaret in it)
Margaret getting into the bed and realizing that she liked it is up there with Alexis Arquette on the swing as one of the great moments on Top Design. Jonathan saying that he "could really get up to some mischief!" in Carisa's bed may be the best quote of the show.

lily's room
What a dream room for a little girl. I would have died for this room. Jeez. A part of me still wants this room! Note: you only see a corner of it but that rug is adorable.

matt and ed
This was so cute. If we learned anything from top design we learned that the designer is only as good as their carpenter.

carisa's attitude
Carisa seemed honest about saying that it was best for Matt to win because she still felt like a winner whereas if she had won Matt would have been devastated. That would be an egotistical thing to say if it weren't for the fact that it is true. Carisa was very generous-spirited about the competition which made me feel like she was well on her way towards developing the personal maturity she needs in order to become a successful professional designer. At any rate she was so gracious in defeat that she did win the hearts of viewers.

finale | the worst

in no particularly significant order

matt and carisa's underwhelming black and white palettes
Carisa's is okay -- the pops of red help . . . I guess. It just isn't very subtle or interesting.
Elegant, yes. But where is that delicate sense of color I admire so much? And while I'm at it, what happened to the floor snob?

boring kitchens with expensive appliances
The judges were critical of Matt's and excited about Carisa's, but I can't see much of a difference between the two.

the fuss over matt's bathroom
I can't see how purple walls and a chandelier makes it so thrillingly sexy. Frankly I liked Carisa's better, although I wouldn't want to use that mirror for putting on makeup.

environmentalists with eight mansions
Here's the thing: I'm sure she's a wonderful and creative person who does a lot of really great things and there are lots of mega-rich wives of rock stars and movie stars who are fatuous twats whose sole purpose is to consume and waste as much as possible and compared to them Trudie Styler should win the Nobel Peace Prize. Nonetheless, if the show is only able to get D-list celebrities do they have to over-hype them so that they sound like geniuses and/or saints? And could we perhaps reserve the term "humanitarian" for those rare individuals who have truly sacrificed themselves for the good of humanity rather than applying it to any celebrity who participates in a variety of charity causes while still maintaining a lifestyle of eight mansions? It sort of waters down the idea. Furthermore, I'm not sure how decorating her eight mansions (along with professional decorators) makes her the most qualified judge for the finale but whatever. Maybe Bravo is trying to woo Sting for some special show.
Note to producers: I think it would have been fun to have seen Laura Bennett as the finale guest judge. We already know that she has exquisite taste in all things AND she has a degree in architecture.

repetition of furniture items
That is, the limited amount of shops, thus limited choices of products they could select from at the PDC. I didn't like those dining room chairs the first time I saw them in Andrea's chef's room. (Although, Carisa could have at least reupholstered them.)

pushing the family man card a bit too much
Either Matt or Bravo or both seemed to be pushing this little too hard at the end. It starts to get saccharine and manipulative. He has a lovely wife and child, yes. Okay, we get it. He's reproduced.

carisa's work style
Oy vey. It was driving me nuts to watch her work. I was somewhat shocked at her lack of preparation. She just walked into the PDC without any plan for what furniture she would be buying?! I would never in a million years hire someone who works this way. And it really caught up to her. She had two months to prepare. She had five days to get the work done. And she never unpacked her books or did any finishing touches that would have personalized the space. That cost her dearly in the judging. Since she's still a student I hope that she takes some classes in project management. You still need a framework if you work intuitively: there is a difference between spontaneity and panic-inducing lack of preparation.

matt's sterile master bedroom
That room is just depressing. For that matter where was the personality or voice of his wife in this space? Other than as a pregnant belly, that is?

the predictability of the outcome
Congrats and everything ... whatever.
I wanted Matt to win, don't get me wrong. The show just lacked interest, but that has been a problem since the start.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

matt, please... that you've won :


You're starting to look like Lurch:

Sic gorgiamus allos subiectatos nunc.
[We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.]

Not just pretty words.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

top ten

In response to Linda Merrill's Top 10 list on her ::surroundings magazine blog I decided to see if I could come up with my own top 10. These selections feel a bit random and the ranking order feels even more haphazard. I've made a few notes to try to explain myself but I can't say that if I were to do this tomorrow I would pick the same exact rooms and put them in the same exact order! For what it's worth:

10: felicia, episode 2
smart space use solutions; great design response to the clients needs; will make transition into adolescence.

9: carisa, episode 8
a very creative conceptual idea put into practical use; frame should have been painted white but it is really a very inspired response to the challenge.

8: carisa, episode 2
a well-designed structure; great use of space; color and style that is bright enough for a child but also transitions out of childhood.

7: matt, episode 8
cool icy elegance; exquisite

6. michael, episode 4
wonderful mid century modern scandinavian design; great garage sale finds for a sophisticated post college space

5: erik and carisa, episode 1
comfort, color, style; a warm room that seems inviting; some accessories problems but the overall look is great; I especially like the back wall, and the sofa.

4: andrea, episode 7
for the overall polish, the suede walls and the side table. I hate the chairs.

3: erik, matt, elizabeth
I think this is a great cabana -- building on the traditional design but innovative reworking certain aspects. Plus it provides full sun protection -- increasingly necessary -- as well as privacy.

2. michael and john, episode 1
for the polish, elegance, especially the back wall, the choice of art, the sofa and banquet

1. matt, episodes 2 and 7 especially
basically for his use of color -- the thing that has impressed me the most of all; and for his sense of elegance (it isn't my specific style -- I tend to like cleaner lines -- but it is lovely and appealing nonetheless)

NOTE: You can go to Bravo's Rate the Room and look at all the rooms again and judge for yourself.


Of course the judges have more expertise and more on-site information than I do on which to base their decisions. Nonetheless, I'm still entitled to my own hare-brained opinions. Half the fun of watching these shows is to engage in delusions of grandeur about how you know more than top experts in the field, who are, as it turns out, complete morons.

With that in mind, here is my run down on how the eliminations went and where the judges went wrong.

1. Lisa -- the design was basically hers, it was not strong, she did not seem to be at the level of innovation needed to be on the show. She may not have particularly even wanted to be there all that much. But if that is the criteria then they should have gotten rid of Ryan immediately as well. Which would have been my preference.

1. Heather -- this was a very unfortunate pairing with Lisa. Heather is someone who had experience that demonstrated a lot of promise but she exited the show before anyone could see what she could do.

2. John -- he didn't finish the job so it was fair to have him be the one to go. Second to him would be Ryan because that bed was dangerous.

3. Elizabeth -- this was an utterly wrong-headed decision. Someone in the Goil/Carisa/Ryan group should have been the one to go. I would have selected Ryan.

4. Felicia -- that room was hideous, although once again Ryan's was worse in that it was dangerous. We are talking about two different versions of uninhabitable: you can always get rid of the afghan (the wallpaper would have been a little harder) but what do you do with a wall encrusted with broken glass?

5. Ryan -- Ryan should have been off long before now. Ryan should have never been on but that's another matter. Anyway, assuming Ryan's long gone, Goil should have been kicked off for getting so obsessed with that ridiculous dog bed.

6. Erik -- this was another wrong-headed decision. Either Goil or Andrea should have gone instead of Erik. The fact that you punish the one person on the team who has any understanding of and capacity for doing the project at all seems utterly backwards. I also want to note that it was such a shame that we didn't see the kind of party planning that Elizabeth and Heather would have done: the two people who have real expertise in this area.

7. Michael -- was probably the fair choice at this point. His, Goil and Carisa's rooms were all pretty bad. If Goil were still in the show by now then he would be the first to go, not just because of his track record but because his room was so impractical and even a bit hazardous. Michael had the "it's my room and I won't change" pissy attitude and Carisa had the better track record.

8. Goil -- was kept on the show far too long. I know I'm in the minority but those white rooms full of gimmicks bored me because they were predictable. At this point one wonders what kind of chef's room Erik or Felicia or Heather would have created. Or Elizabeth or even John? Which of the other designers would have responded to the "elements" hotel room challenge that so flummuxed Goil and Andrea?

9. Andrea -- had one really exquisite room but the rest of the time she was fairly underwhelming. I think she could have gone earlier. I imagine that there are other designers who would have offered a little more energy and just as much polish -- like Erik.

10. Matt and Carisa -- the fact that they are the finalists seems fair enough. (Midway through the show I predicted the finalists to be Matt and Erik so I was half right.)

Matt -- has been consistently strong from the start. He's a real pro. Almost every one of his rooms has been a contender and there is probably no one else who could have consistently produced that level of work.

Carisa -- I think that it came as a surprise to everyone that Carisa did so well. She has a colorful, energetic "pop" style that is similar to Jonathan Adler's. She's consistent without being repetitive and she is imaginative. Good for her. If she's the "wild card" then I'm fine with that.

My problem isn't with how it ended but with what we had to watch in between the beginning and the end. What if, say, they left in this order: Lisa, Ryan, John, Goil, Felicia, Elizabeth, Michael, Andrea and our final four were then (in no particular order): Heather, Carisa, Erik, and Matt. In the end, there was a lot of uninspiring work produced on that show. Top Design should try to figure out what they can do to change that. It would seem obvious that an important aspect of keeping the show interesting would be keeping the most talented designers on the show for as long as possible -- but that isn't always how they operated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

margaret russell : observation 9

Margaret Russell
edited by kora in hell


[posted in descending order]

| 9 |


referring to themselves in the third person,
the side chairs looked a little nervous

all by themselves in the corners.


cover images can be an enigma

An overabundance of random accessories
(brackets, vases, objets),
an odd rug that trapped any unsuspecting high heel,

------------the lovely
---pond-scum ---taupe,

unwieldy club chairs facing into the room,
poorly conceived pairings of furnishings
(Lucite lamps on Gustavian side tables),

-----------the word “dreamy”
-------------------------(alas, it’s vintage)

appears in barely legible

(hence, the newsstand bomb).