Top Design – Judging the Designs Episode 6

Episode 6: Life of the Party
Plan and execute a party for Bicardi Limon, sponsored by Elle Decor.
Special consideration: Bicardi Limon considers itself to be a sensorial product, so the five senses had to be represented.
Location: Plaza in front of Pacific Design Center, in a 30×40′ tent.
Team Challenge: Matt, Michael & Carisa vs. Erik, Goil & Andrea. Plus each has a carpenter.
Budget: $8,500
Time: 30 minutes to sketch.
Fabric shopping: 30 minutes – Carisa and Erik
Food: 1 hour – Matt and Goil
Party Supply Rentals: 1 hour – Michael and Andrea
Rest of day to build and plan in workroom. Next day for set up.

There is no question, in my view, that Michael, Matt and Carisa’s plan deserved the win. I suspected going in that they would win – because they all have shown an ability to understand the larger goal of a project and not get lost in the details. They should be proud of their final accomplishments, but they all need serious attitude adjustments. Up till now, my policy has been to try to comment only on the work and not the personalities behind the projects. But, I must say that all three need to be slapped upside the head. Carisa does do too much talking and not enough listening. While I think she’s been ganged up on and is being defensive, I don’t think she’s completely innocent. I also think that she was taking too much credit for the final outcome of their design. I have been very impressed with Matt throughout the whole season, but he has laughed with Michael at Carisa’s expense once too many times for me and I think he’s been hiding a less than kind attitude under his angelic expressions. Michael is childish and mean-spirited, overreactive and overly self-important. They are all showing themselves to be immature people in their relationships with others. But, somehow, they did a great job together, which is what counts at this moment. I would, however, think twice about hiring any of them, for fear that they would melt into bad behavior under pressure.

Michael, Matt and Carisa’s space was well thought out from the outside in. There was a strong entry point – a view from the outside that made people want to see what was inside. But they were brilliant with placing Doc Holiday the bouncer at the door. Inviting and exclusive are great juxtaposing feelings. You set up your guests to feel good right at the door – ahhh ! I’m in! Party design is all about setting a mood – quickly. It’s (usually) not about big, philosophical ideas. It’s about selling a product or getting people to open their check books. The space can never overshadow the main purpose. And thankfully, they dropped the go-go dancer idea. Interesting concept – but when fleshed out (pun intended) it would have been tacky and they would have, no doubt, lost.

I liked the concept of the calla lily and the white floral arrangements. But I hate, hate, that lettuce flower. I don’t even know what it’s called, but lettuce should be served on a plate with a nice vinaigrette, not in a vase.

Michael – Floral arrangements and seating.

I thought the mirrors were a great idea and the bold black frames were just the right punch. The seating – and yes Michael, people really do like to sit at events, especially those in super high heeled shoes – was very clubby feeling. Not your standard rental fare. (see my comments on this subject below). Keeping the yellow thing overhead was a bigger decision than the editing really showed. It was cheesy looking – but did add some much needed color to the space. It was really their only “off note”.

Matt – Overall layout of room and design plan.

The low side lounge area was beautifully done, as were the lemon tables. I liked that they showed Todd’s comment about casket nature of their first concept – which was to lay a Bicardi bottle inside the inner rectangle. Again, they showed their willingness to change their original concept mid-stream. Without the bottle in the middle, they were able to fill in with candles, adding to the yellow glow from the lemons.

Carisa – Flame-retardent fabric shopping, painting.

Congratulations – Matt, Michael & Carisa – for your mature design. Now let’s hope your personalities catch up.

Regarding personalities – Andrea, Goil and Erik have all shown themselves to be pretty mature people in their inter-personal relationships. While Andrea and Erik did marginalize Goil, they did so (rightly or wrongly) for professional reasons, not because they didn’t like him. Sometimes, that happens when working with a team – whether in business or on a creative project, or even on a sports team (Linda, why don’t you take left out field). That said – what I suspected would happen with this team did. Goil and Andrea would miss the mark on what would be “expected” of that sort of party and Erik wouldn’t be able to compensate for that alone. I just read Adlers blog and he said something about Erik’s being latered was a result of a specific design aspect that we didn’t see on camera. Not sure what that was, so I’ll take his word for it. They should get credit for trying to push the envelope, buy if you do, what comes out must be perfectly executed and mind-blowing for those at the party. And they missed that mark.

This wall was the beginning of a good idea – I like the “woven wood” concept – it’s sculptural and on it’s own interesting. But it made the bottles look like accents and not the main events. (Corporate sponsors just don’t like that). It also blocked the door, which made for a bad outside-in view. Finally, it needed a cleaner back drop to work.

Erik – Planning, painting, and wall design.

This photo says it all. It’s pretty much a mess. The plain table rounds, white cloths and white rental chairs are standard, back yard graduation party fare. Goils’ original concept for the Dorothy Draper chandelier was intriguing and it’s too bad it couldn’t have been executed. I assume that it would have been too heavy to be suspended from the center point of the ceiling to be safe. The alternate tiered standing light display had potential, but wasn’t executed very well. The base structure was good, but they really just looked like serving trays filled with empties. Light roping, or even mini-lights, would have come in handy. The lemon wall was ok – but kind of high school dance-ish.

Goil – Tiered chandelier design and lemon “wall.”

I’m not entirely sure what project management Andrea brought to the task. She and Erik seemed pretty equally in charge. The flowers arrangements were unfortunate. In the hands of an amateur, spikey, sculptural floral arrangements usually come out ugly at best and scary at worst. If you don’t know how to arrange flowers, then stick with simple, classic, beautiful and scented. Funny that neither team used the flowers as their source of “scent”.
Andrea – Project management, furniture shopping, and flower arranging.

I am sorry that Erik was the one latered. I think that this is an interior design show and Andrea and Goil – while clearly super talented conceptualists – aren’t interior designers. And there is a difference between the two disciplines.

I wrote a paper in music school on the difference between being a culminator (bringing an established form or artistic endeavor to it’s highest possible point – Mozart) vs. being an innovator (moving a form or artistic concept forward – Bach). While the winning team didn’t do anything particularly innovative, they executed a beautiful, simple plan, nearly flawlessly and as a result made their guests comfortable and happy. The losing team tried to innovate – but had neither the time or resources to see their visions through completely and their guests were left feeling disjointed and uncomfortable.

I’d like to thank Andy on the after show for reading my question to Erik, which was:

“Do you think that you, and the other designers, were given sufficient opportunity to showcase your talents on this show?”

And I’d like to thank Eric-with-a-K for his thoughtful and diplomatic answer. He said, in effect, that while the time crunches were challenging, it’s reflective of how life is now-a-days and it’s a competition, so it’s all good.

I still say that up until this episode, I do not think we saw the best that these folks have to offer. And that’s too bad.

xoxo Linda Would you like my Favorite Tips for a Well-Decorated Home? Click here!

6 thoughts on “Top Design – Judging the Designs Episode 6”

  1. I think Matt and Michael had to work with Carisa who is kind of a pain in the ass. She spoke more about how she did everything than actually did anything. The only actual work I saw her do was painting the inside of those tables.

    Matt is great and really took the role of project manager and did a great job of over seeing the installation of the project / party. I think if Matt and Michael got along and Carisa was the odd women out for like the 3rd week in a row I would say whats wrong with her.

    Michael is a differant kind of person he is funny, rude and very smart. He is the kind of guy anyone would love to hang out with I bet he does a great keg stand. I would love to work with him because I bet shopping in the stuffy enviroment such as the PDC he would be a blast.

    Linda being a women like myself I can see why you want to suport carisa, but her ship is sinking fast. I think she bossy and entitled and all the designer thinks she is a giant pain in the ASS!!!

    PS. How funny was Michael’s chocolate fountian comment in the car to Andre he really is amazing

  2. First, I am in awe of your output and the quality of your posts. Frankly, I barely have time for my “thinner” posts, so my hat’s off to you for doing all this research and taking the time to write such thoughtful stuff.

    I agree with most of your statements, as you’ll see in tomorrow’s Kitsch post (I usually write them by Friday), though I rarely go into design details.

    Carisa and Michael acted like two spoiled brats, and unprofessionally. Matt disappointed me by joining Michael in dissin’ Carisa behind her back. Bad form.

    I find it interesting that Michael’s popularity is still high. He is regarded as being funny and is given greater leeway by the public, when he can actually be quite mean at times. Carisa gets dumped on because she is bossy and loudly defends herself, but I have yet to hear her personally attack anyone. She spends most of her energy defending herself or bragging.

    These are talented people, but at some point one has to leave one’s ego at the door and work for the good of the team. It’s the way things work these days. Being immature is no excuse for poor behavior.

    It was a pity Erik got the boot. But frankly, we are down to the strongest designers. Let’s hope they are given individual challenges that will allow them to shine.

  3. I agree with you on much – I am not
    sure about Michael – it could be the Blahvo edit, but he reminds me a bit of the immature bullies who harrass my son, the kind who want to be cool but aren’t quite, so there’s a mean-spiritedness about them (you nailed that one).

    Here is my question – WAS it Matt’s design? Or was it Carisa’s? Truthfully, it looked more like the things Carisa has designed – the boy’s room, the dorm room, all very angular. Neither of the guys designed anything LIKE that. If it Was hers, she had a right to be mad when he took credit. Last I saw, he was picking Food and painting….!

    Oh, of course, Adler would say it had something to do with what they saw on camera and what we didn’t see. I think these photos look worse than what the Andrea/Goil/Erik team’s room looked like on TV. Blahvo would pick the most unappealing photos to put on the website.

    I still say we’ve never really had a chance to see what Any of them can do. Too many team challenges. They have to get off this stuff – the show loses all its credibility.

    On another subject – Music school? ::::ears perk up:::: Moi is also a musician, teacher etc. – woodwinds….

  4. Linda – as always your comments are provide us with great professional insight.

    For that reason, I am glad that you took an exception and commented on the personalities.

    I agree that it would be crazy to hire people whose behavior is that immature. Or just plain unpleasant. The question is whether they will change or whether this is just part of who they are. In this regard, I’m as troubled by the older two — Goil and Matt — as I am by Michael and Carisa who are still in their early 20s. Goil and Matt need to start acting like they are in their 30s — and they also need to get some backbone.

    It is a shame that Erik lost this week. I agree with you that Andrea and Goil are not really decorators. For that reason they could not take responsibility for the look of the party because they really don’t develop ideas for overall decorating schemes. (Goil’s were impractical and Andrea’s were appalling.) Their weaknesses as decorators prevented them from being kicked off, which somehow doesn’t seem fair.

    By the way, what do they mean when they say “old school skills”?

  5. Moi; – yep, I play the flute! That was my “first” career. I still do some performing and teaching private lessons. I love it and love having an impact on young musicians. Of course, I teach using visual descriptions which sometimes confuses them. (play this like a round soft ball, play that like a pebble skipping across the water). I get funny looks from the kids – but I am a visual thinker and have always used visuals in my playing. I had a conductor once tell me he wanted me to play a specific part ( on the piccolo) like a bright jewel twinkling in a dark sky. I knew exactly what he meant!

    Trixie – I don’t know what they meant by “old school”. It almost seemed insulting, but I don’t think they really meant to be insulting – hopefully.Or, Adler couldn’t think of anything to say, and that’s what came out. Maybe it just meant – classy, sophisticated, traditional, but not innovative and boundary pushing? What, then, was Dorothy Draper? I think of her as “old school”, but she certainly pushed boundaries. So, who knows.

    And yes, Carisa and Michael need some much needed maturity. I tweak them, but, I recall having to work on my patience and anger levels when I was in my 20s. One year for Lent I gave up “losing my temper”. It’s a kind of luxury to be quick tempered and complaining – and takes discipline to learn to be patient. Although I still roll my eyes, I admit. But, I never lost my temper in public again after that year.

    As for the gents in their 30s, yes, they both need to start acting like adults and be assertively professional.

  6. Beautifully eloquent recap, Linda! It is a shame that the boundaries of the challenges don’t allow for as much execution of innovation as we’d like to see. It was wise of MM&C to keep their design simple.

    Speaking of their design, I do give some credit to Carisa, she did contribute the square-doughnut bar which probably morphed into the beautiful bold squares on the walls. Those mirrored squares made a HUGE difference in adding sophistication to the tent walls. But she went too far in hogging ALL the credit which I suspect didn’t win her any new fans. And while she may not launch verbal assaults as much as others her tone, facial expressions and body language are just as unprofessional as any 20-something that still has some maturing to do.

    I didn’t really have a problem with Andrea & Erik. At worst, Andrea came across as quietly authoritative. Granted, they could have been a bit more diplomatic with Goil but from what we saw Goil didn’t voice his grievances to anyone (except the cameras) until he went postal in the Stew Room. And it was nice to see that Andrea did offer an apology.

    Can’t wait to what they come up with for Colicchio!

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