We begin with the men returning to the apartment without Trent, and there seems to be a sigh of relief from everyone. Alex admits he’s disappointed with his performance so far, and he plans to step it up this week. I think that’s one refrain you always hear in these kinds of competitions: “This week I’ll show them!” Along with, “I’m not here to make friends.” I’m just waiting for that one.
This week’s challenge starts outside a flower shop when Candice announces each designer gets to choose the flower that inspires them the most. None of the contestants know which flower any of the others are choosing, and finally Vern walks out with a bouquet made up of each team’s combined choices. They must design a studio apartment based on the overall team bouquet and also incorporate their own individual floral inspiration.
The men’s bouquet is, as Courtland describes, “easy on the eye.” Clean, minimal, soft and fresh, made up of ranunculus, tulip, calla lily and snapdragon. Whereas the women’s bouquet is much more overtly romantic and whimsical: orchid, daffodil, carnation, hyacinth and wax flower. Immediately Dan starts to try to fight for himself and warns the women that in the last challenge they tackled too many construction-heavy projects, meaning ALL HIM. Can they please shop a bit more this time? Does he really have to say that to a car full of women? IN NEW YORK CITY?!
The spaces are 650 square feet, bright, full of light. Immediately the men decide to break the space up into a series of seating areas. Michael suggests a wall of open shelving to separate the living and sleeping areas. While shopping, Tom suggests this challenge is more about the form of the flower, not necessarily the color, and they choose several accent pieces that give off a luminosity. The judges told him last week to bring his knowledge and experience into play, and I think someone was paying attention.
They plan to focus on the finishes, meaning they want an array of paint: matte, semi-gloss and eggshell. Michael says these are crucial to the story of texture in the room. We see Alex furiously writing down how much paint and what kind they need. I get the sense this is some sort of foreshadowing of conflict. Look at me! I paid attention in English! FORESHADOWING! CONFLICT! You guys, Design Star is like Shakespeare!
The women start shopping, finding furniture with fancy, romantic lines, and then back at the apartment you see them taping up the room to paint molding. And there’s Dan doing construction work, hanging the rod for the sheers around the bed. Even Emily expresses concern that he isn’t taking his interests seriously enough. And you can see him attaching batteries to tools with a bit of exasperation. Oh, Dan. You and my husband should go out for beers! You’d feel a lot less alone.
And back at the men’s apartment, that foreshadowed conflict? IT HAS ARRIVED. Alex bought the wrong paint. Paint catastrophe! Explosions! Grenades! Michael is the most distraught, going on and on about how he didn’t think they could translate their concept without the semi-gloss paint. Courtland says, “The number one rule is semi-gloss, semi-gloss, semi-gloss!” It is? I thought it was, “No one talks about semi-gloss.”
Michael explains the semi-gloss is so important because of the layered paint effect he wants to create to showcase the inspiration of the ranunculus. Courtland isn’t sure how his flower really plays into the room, only that the wall of built-in shelving could possibly reflect the fact that the calla lily looks like it’s hiding something. Alex attempts an art installation to reflect the snapdragon, but he can’t even get it to stick to the wall. He is so stepping it up this week!
Back with the women we see Dan working on another construction project for Nina. You guys! Is this the first time I have brought up her name this week? BEHOLD, MY RESTRAINT! And I can’t say anything nice. Because she’s picking on Dan, saying that he’s more of her assistant than anything else. It’s not her responsibility to be civil! And then this thing that she’s creating for the wall, just…just…stop it already! Stop painting murals on the wall! Someone had better stop her so that I can move on to something else. But no one is. So I’ll force myself to move on.
Did you guys hear that Nina paints murals? On walls? It’s true.
It’s down to the final fifteen minutes, and Tom sounds like he’s giving birth. I just had to bring up this part because, really. That’s exactly what it sounded like when I was giving birth.
In walk the judges, and this time the teams have to stand there and listen as the judges walk around the room. I could not possibly handle that kind of awkwardness. I’d start itching sores that don’t exist and fall over. The women hear whispers, one of them being, “We’ve seen that before.” Oh please! PLEASE! Let them be talking about that mural on the wall. Because the world can’t handle seeing one again!
I like the overall design of the women’s room, especially the vibrant walls and mixture of furniture. However, I think it lacks cohesion. The room feels like it starts and stops in too many places, where maybe they were trying to go with contrasts (billowy sheers vs. hot pink squares on the wall) when what they got was a bunch of noise.
The men’s room, however, is slick from front to back, as if the design had taken months to create. You can feel the luminosity Tom was talking about earlier, and everything flows. Fresh is the first word that comes to mind, in fact, and they discussed this word in their initial meeting together. The room really does look like their bouquet and not just in color.
Judgment time and SOUND OF NEEDLE DRAGGING ON A RECORD. They just changed the rules! Because of the strengths and weaknesses in both rooms they feel it is unfair to judge them as teams. And so, instead they will be judged as individuals. Okay, I don’t like this. You’re sending one message to work as a team, but when you throw something in there like this, who in their right mind would want to cooperate? I don’t like this one bit. Again, it doesn’t matter, because my job is to write recaps. And talk about awful wall murals.
Nina, Courtland, Dan and Alex are the bottom designers, meaning everyone else makes it through to the next week. The bottom designers head off to make their host presentations. The following day when they face the judges, they are each given a chance to explain how their individual flower fits into the room. Alex undercuts Courtland when he explains it wasn’t Courtland’s idea to make the wall of built-in shelving. Uh-oh! Looks like someone isn’t here to make friends!
Dan talks about clusters, how he’d seen clusters of daffodils growing in fields in his youth. He then tries to defend all the construction in the room, and Vern sternly points out, “You’re not a contractor, Dan!” This is a design competition. Exactly. Not a Let’s Paint Wall Murals Contest.
Nina claims she is all over this space, taking credit for everything from the fabric to the furniture, waving off the mural as just a blip in the room. And I was right! They had seen it before! PHEW! I’m not just walking around with squiggly wall murals haunting my head.
Alex explains the snapdragon “is really simple in shape” like asparagus. Um, what flower is he smoking? He then goes on to say it didn’t make him feel flowery or fluffy, but determined, and the judges give him credit here for speaking from the heart.
Down to the bottom two: Alex and Dan. Dan’s host presentation is cheerful and friendly, but he doesn’t explain anything about what inspired the design. He’s just pointing to things and saying what they are. Alex’s combines both: cheerfulness and the inspiration behind the design. He’s getting better, much better in terms of hosting, and that shows he’s learning. This means Dan is going home, and my heart just broke into pieces. He sacrificed too much to help the women. And I don’t know if they can hold it together without him.