Top Design – Challenges Challenges

I’ve been giving thought to what the different challenges might be when Top Design airs starting on January 31st. It seems to me that most reality shows are their best in their first seasons and go downhill from there. Well, maybe it’s just the one’s I’ve watched. “Survivor” and “The Apprentice” come to mind. On the other hand, HGTV’s “Design Star” was so lame that anything would be an improvement – although I hope they choose to walk away quietly from that one. What was up with that “Glama-listic” girl and the bare-chested winner? And who even remembers their names???? Let’s hope TD is much better. I do think that this group of contestants seems to come with some pretty good skills, education and experience. How they apply those tools to their challenges remains to be seen.

So, what kind of challenges will there be? The list of sponsors give us some clues:

GMC – 2007 Acadia slated to appear throughout the 10-episode series arc. I’m not sure how this fits into a specific design challenge.

Bacardi Limon – will be a featured element in a design challenge.

Thomasville Furniture will sponsor an on-air series of vignettes

General Electric Monogram Collection, a line of modular cooking and refrigeration appliances that will be featured during a kitchen-themed competition.

The BravoTV website has the first four episodes listed by title.
101 – Mystery Judge
102 – Childs Play
103 – Life’s A Beach
104 – Diamond in the Rough

So, what do we think?
-Celebrity Home/Room Makeover #101
-Children’s space #102
-Outdoor/beach/sandcastle building contest #103
-Fixer Upper #104
-Kitchen (Monogram Collection)
-Night club/party space (Bicardi Limon)
-Vignettes with Thomasville – maybe each designer gets the same items to work with and must come up with something original?

Which leaves us with two episodes, one of which is the finale. I wonder where the car comes in… ideas?

I would like to see the following challenges:
• Green/sustainable design
• Universal design (where form and function work for any potential inhabitant from children to elderly to handicapped)
• Color challenge – where they select two or three random colors from a bag and have to create a look from those colors. Or have to create a look from one color only.
• Furniture design – creating a piece for modern living citing historical precedents. In design school, I had to do this and it was a very interesting exercise.
• Creation of a line of textiles, accessories, etc. from a single image or theme.

I’ve been thinking how this show might be the same as “Project Runway” and how it might be different. Interior designers are required to know something about a whole range of skills – from artistic such as drawing to technical such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc. We need to know what fabrics work best in any given situation, how to light a space and whether the infrastructure can handle electrical load. The “pretty parts” are important, but it’s a given that we know how to do that. It’s the technical knowledge that can make or break you in the real world. So, as with PR, technical skills matter – but I think they have a much wider scope in interior design. Plus, if you screw up, you can actually harm someone.

All that said, however, interior designers aren’t generally experts in all these disciplines and rarely do the actual work. So, I really don’t want to see challenges where the contestants are required to be putting up dry wall, or mounting cabinets and installing appliances with one hand, while clutching their swatch books in the other. The better test is how they manage those professionals who actually do that work.

I am figuring there will be team challenges as well as solo projects. One of the things I like about PR is that the contestants are mostly supportive of one another. While there have been some notable exceptions (Wendy Pepper, anyone?) the designers generally don’t try to tear each other down. However, when they add in team challenge projects, then the “I’m better than him and let me tell you why” comes into play. Yawn… I think even the nicest people can turn into cut-throats in these circumstances.

Anyway, comments, suggestions?

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xoxo Linda