Vern on Nina Ferrer
Graphic, bold and complete in its thought process, Nina’s room for her partner, Courtland, is masterful in the exotic design statement it makes. Although Courtland later protests that this room does not represent him at all, at the time of our walk-through, Courtland backs up Nina’s choices and says that her room is representative of his love of exotic Fiji. Dark walls with the look of architectural molding created with paint instantly give the room a dramatic and masculine backdrop. Nina then cleverly installs a series of umbrellas on the walls to create a sense of movement and dimension in the space, giving it visual interest and a reference to the exotic locale of Fiji. Large and small ball lights bring in the space above the ceiling-less room — a move that many contestants overlooked. Grass mats on the headboard and on the floor further warm up the space and add needed texture, while vertical shoots of bamboo contrast against the dark walls, giving upward movement to the corner. If Courtland had indicated that this was a poor representation of him and his style, no amount of inventiveness and design savvy would have saved Nina on this challenge. Her strong design ideas, combined with Courtland’s backing up of her choices, garnered Nina the first Season 5 Design Star win and a serious leg up on the rest of the competition. Nina wants to win but she will have to ensure that her competitors continue to back up her choices — or begin to listen to what they are saying.
I love Nina’s deep, dark wall color – it creates a dramatic, high-contrast setting for the play of elements in the foreground. I also appreciate the architectural interest generated by her painted wall molding and the use of illuminated paper lanterns to animate the interior volume of the space. I do, however, feel — from the abundance of paper lanterns and umbrellas to the teal floral silk throw and bamboo and wicker accessories — that this space looks like a room vignette in an Asian market. Yes, this is a beautiful space; my fear is that it’s just not a personal reflection of Courtland. I also would have liked to have seen the challenge honored by incorporating and/or repurposing the furniture elements that were originally provided rather than buying new.
- I would go big with the white lantern idea. An entire ceiling canopy of floating, various-sized lanterns would have created a modern, dreamy and sculptural quality in this space.
- A more interesting and less feminine approach to the umbrellas would have been to strip off the paper. The resulting radiating frames or skeletons would be beautiful as wall art placed in an orderly composition to offset the randomness of the lanterns above.
- Mount the bookcase horizontally 6” under the wainscoting. This would have provided plenty of opportunities for beautiful decorative accessories on, in and under the “floating” bookcase.
Vern on Courtland Bascon
Design Star is a competition and Courtland discovered, right off the bat, that it is important to defend yourself in front of the judges. His manifestation of Nina’s personality was deemed unsuccessful because Nina vocalized that it didn’t represent her Bohemian style. Although she expressed something entirely different to Courtland, this isn’t something we, as judges, were aware of. Courtland failed to tell us that there was a serious disconnect between what she told him about herself and what she told us, and we can only judge on the facts that we know. This space is an aesthetically pleasing one, but this challenge is to capture your partner’s style and personality, and this space does not convey Bohemian. The room is organized, neat, sophisticated and dramatic. It has a wonderful color palette that is rich, interesting paint techniques and some clever reinvention of the furniture. I particularly like the bookcase turned sideways and made into a long console with storage inside of it. Courtland’s biggest mistake was not speaking up for himself. If he wants to stay in this competition, he’ll need to defend himself when he feels that he is being thrown under the bus.
Cortland’s plum and gold color scheme could read as formal and stuffy if it weren’t for his abstract striped wall treatment – it adds edginess and a rhythm that also help draw your eye deeper into the space. In a bold attempt at defining a focal point, Courtland simulates a headboard with a draping of fabrics that is both dramatic and feminine — perfect for Nina. However, the excitement created by the headboard quickly fizzles as your eye reaches the bed below – an underwhelming, peculiar (and sloppily presented) burgundy sheet set that fights with the plum walls like a couple of 2-year-olds over a lollipop. I appreciate the creation of the sideboard but feel the random collection of accessories (rustic baskets, bamboo and broken glass in bowls) looks like a garage sale table and lacks any of sign creative process or principles.
- Maybe it’s my love of absurd black comedy but I really like the idea of cutting up Nina’s photo – I’ve done this with photos of ex-boyfriends in the past and it feels soooooo good. However, this photo, repurposed as a small art grouping, falls a bit short due to its scale. The small photo squares mounted on large mattes inside large 18” x 24” frames would have given the images the feeling of greater importance and the overall effect more impact.
- I love how the ornate black painted frames speak to the intricacy of the headboard fabric. A few highly adorned, delicate or embellished accessories all unified with the same sprayed high-gloss black and grouped rather than spaced along the console would continue this feeling and create unity and harmony.
- Layers of lush bedding and pillows are what this space is crying out for. The key? An eclectic contrast of smooth against satiny, a toothy textured throw and subtle, quiet patterned or embroidered pillows that complement rather than compete with the headboard.