Welcome to the new season of Design Star where the competition has moved back to New York CIty, what Vern Yip refers to as the “epicenter of design.” I don’t know what he’s talking about, because last I checked Jasper, Alabama was on the tip of everyone’s tongues. But I guess New York will do.
The 12 designers meet and learn about their first challenge: the white rooms.
Twelve new designers, all with varied backgrounds, some formally schooled, others who found inspiration building pig troughs (those things are darling), under pressure to impress the judges — Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder and Candice Olson — to become host of their own TV show. And already I get the sense that Vern means business. Like, yes, the two women beside him are taller by three feet, but who’s doing the voice-over?! THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.
Spoiler Alert! If you don’t want to know what happened, please don’t click through.
Nina organizes her finds from the Asian market. Cue the umbrellas.
First competition: Each designer is paired with another designer, someone they have never met and they have to design a white-box bedroom for that person, based on their personality. Budget: $500. The catch is that it all has to be spent at an Asian market. OH MY LOLA. Is it just me, or do I sense a glut of Kimonos, umbrellas and paper lanterns? Seriously, if someone glues kimchi to a wall I may have to leave the room.
Contestants are being really friendly, but we all know how short-lived this will be given the pressure. And the fact that these people are designers. Because creative people have difficulty with the part of their brain that controls reason.
Oh, and only one hour to shop? Who made up these rules? It could take YEARS to choose a paint color. I’m not even even competing and I want to throw up. So much pressure! Do they get a massage when this is done? A hug, maybe?
Already we start to see contestants with weaknesses…. Alex forgets a pile of merchandise, and there goes half of his room. Alex, under that kind of pressure, I’d forget my own name. And oh no, Courtland is using pink paint with a faux finish. Please! No faux finishes! When has faux ever looked not faux? It just screams, “Hello! I’m not the real thing!” It grows a voice along with four legs, a spiked tail and then it crawls out of the swamp.
And Emily. Oh, Emily: “I don’t do sketches, I don’t draw. I stare.” When she stares into her future, I’m thinking she’s going to see that she SHOULD HAVE DONE A SKETCH.
Julie. She didn’t hear me. No faux finishes! But there she is fauxing all over that wall.
Judges’ decisions are in and it’s time to assess the designs: Stacey’s is really hip, clean and urban. Love the saturated colors. I think it’s spot on and an excellent piece given the constraints. Her fellow designer Dan, however, put this horrifying thing over the bed. What is that? And even though Stacey says she likes it, I’m thinking my grandmother would have said to take it down, it makes her feel old and smelly.
Nina’s room: Beautiful, but remember my prophecy about geisha umbrellas? How many did she stick to that wall? I lost count because I can’t count that high. Courtland is polite about the design, but then Nina turns right around and drops a piano on Courtland’s head. His design is not bohemian enough, even though she never once mentioned that she preferred bohemian. HAHA! See? Catty! Already! Only thing missing is the sound effect of two lions biting each other’s back legs off.
Tom’s room: He packed up the Asian market, loaded it on a truck and unpacked everything in that room. All that red would make me angry. Yes, angrier than I already am. And his fellow designer Julie? Did I mention the faux paint finish? That’s all that needs to be said. Oh, one more thing: EEEEYYYUUUCK!
Alex’s room is not as bad as I thought it was going to be, given that half of it is still sitting in a pile on the floor of the market. Casey’s room is a nice break from the three before it: again, clean. Finished. Confident, saturated colors. Oh no, I think I’m getting soft on you guys! Where’s my grit? Someone hurry and spit in my cereal!
Tera’s room: my absolute favorite so far. Not only it is clean and confident, but it has so much texture and symmetry. Definitely a design that looks like it cost well over $500. Trent’s room is, well, I can’t get past the ghost he installed over the bed. It looks like Casper, except Casper is hopped up on pain killers and yelling at his cat.
Michael’s room is yet another with blue walls, but I like the eclectic arrangement of all the accessories. Casual, a little rough around the edges, livable. And then there’s Emily’s room. Oh dear. Remember that sketch she didn’t draw? It’s living with the design she didn’t execute. Don’t get me wrong, I like minimal. But the blank space in that room has the gravitational pull and personality of a black hole.
Judges have deliberated and broken them out into the top six and bottom six designers: Yay for Stacey, Tera, Nina, Casey, Michael and Dan. Best design goes to… Nina! Except, I disagree! Not enough to make a fuss, but enough to use some exclamation points!
The bottom six designers commiserate before final elimination.
Oops for the rest, whose punishment is to go back and film a host presentation for their design and then stand in judgment again. No pressure, JUST A GIANT CAMERA IN YOUR FACE. Be friendly, be relatable! Don’t mess up a line and let slip a certain word!
The judge’s evaluation of each design pretty much mirrors my own, but when I mentioned earlier that Vern means business, I HAD NO IDEA. Vern is bringing it! A side we haven’t seen! Go, Vern, go! Show those tall, blonde women who’s who! Oh, wait….
Now, I think anyone who uses a faux paint finish should end up in the bottom two, so I don’t think Emily should be standing there next to Julie in the end. Also, there’s something very adorable about Emily that comes across clearly in her host presentation. That she’s willing to poke fun at her mistakes in the video is a brilliant move on her part. It shows that she can think on her feet. And Julie’s video is just so stiff. So rehearsed and flat. That paired with the The Monumental Faux Paint Disaster of 2010, and no wonder she’s the first one sent home.
Can’t wait to see if Emily steps it up next week.