28 October 2008

Appalling "designers" running amok

I watched the show Top Design on Bravo last week and it's taken me until today to recover my strength enough to write about it. I avoid television design shows as a general rule. All they end up doing is making me angry over the product placements and misleading advice. I end up hearing about this stuff second-hand, when my clients invoke the names of their favorite shows. I hear the lingo they pick up too. "We need a pop of color here" is the expression that tells me that somebody watches a lot of HGTV. Ugh.

Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Project Runway on Bravo. Project Runway showcases real talent and provides its contestants with genuine mentors. That show gives me a glimpse into a creative process I know nothing about --fashion design-- and I'm fascinated by it. I figured that since Top Design was a product of the same network, it would work somewhat along the lines of Project Runway. I was wrong. Tragically, tragically wrong. 

Top Design is an interior design competition show where a group of reality TV contestants imitating interior designers are given design assignments that are essentially product placements. Then everyone pretends that what they're doing is legitimate design. The pretend designs are then judged by a group of people whose hype exceeds their talent. And then after a whole lot of sturm und drang, one contestant gets eliminated. Ugh.

The ringleader of the judges is none other than Jonathan Adler.

Jonathan Adler started out making interesting vases but has in recent years taken his clown-like sensibilities into interior design. To wit:


This room is hideous. There, I said it. The emperor has no clothes.


Actually, the emperor's clothes don't fit.

The week I saw, the contestants were given a budget of $20,000 to design a set disguised as a room and have that set/room showcase a modern chandelier. The price of the chandeliers wasn't included in the 20 grand they had to spend.

Here's the room that won. The light fixture is silvery-looking $6000 pear hiding off to the left side of the room. Remember, the task was to highlight the light fixture.


Here's the room that didn't win, though all of the judges fell over one another praising it. The $11,000 "focal point" is on the upper right side of the photo.

It's a bloody nightmare. It's intentionally ugly and mismatched and was clearly a play on the nightmares Jonathan Adler cranks out. Now, I understand being provocative and I love making a loud statement from time to time. But this is absurd. The affected queen who designed it needs to be kicked in the head. 


Utter nonsense and people who don't know better will fall for it. Ugh.

If it isn't already painfully obvious to the non-designers who watch this show, this show has 
nothing to do with real-world design. I feel like my noble profession is being dragged through the mud by this train wreck. But real-life design would make horrible reality television. How do you make hours hunched over a drawing table compelling TV? 

Todd Oldham plays the role of mentor on this program and his presence on it is a bit of a disconnect. 

I have a world of respect for Todd Oldham. The man is a genius --he's a creative machine. He's in fashion, photography, illustration, fabric design, interior design, furniture design, film making, publishing and I'm sure there are plenty more I'm missing. He tries to offer the sociopaths and narcissists his sage advice and he's routinely ignored. I hope the producers are paying him a lot of money. But man, some money's too expensive.

So I did my bit, I sat through an episode of Top Design. And with that one hour, I have had my fill of design-ish TV for the next year or so. I should have known better. You know, I probably could have made it through had at least been entertaining, but alas...

1 comment:

  1. hilarious! Adler is a hack and the "designers", actual "talent" aside, are really victims of the producers of this schlock. That said, people are always on the lookout for the next Oscar Wilde wannabe, so that's the show's real appeal. Not the designs.

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