As much as I hate to admit it, it’s true, I’m still watching HGTV’s Design Star . I just can’t help myself, while the abundance of catalog decorating and the lack of design astound me, I keep tuning in.
Last night I watched as the final 3 contestants (Lonni, Dan & Antonio) were challenged to create a space for celebrity clients- Tiffani Thiessen, Jason Priestley and Kathy Griffin. Lonni sought to refresh Tiffani’s guest room while Dan created a nursery for Jason Priestley and Antonio created a home office for Kathy and her 3 employees. At first glance, all of the rooms look nice, however they all lacked a little je ne sais quois.
Kudos to Lonni for trying to incorporate the principles and elements of design into her room…problem is you can’t saturate the space with things that you read in a text book. I am a big fan of the grasscloth and really liked the custom pattern on the feature wall. However, the grasscloth should have been treated as something special, and not as bargain material used to cover all the walls. To be a good designer you have to know how to EDIT! Her palette was neutral, predictable and seriously lacked interest. A pop of color would have been refreshing in this safe, catalog-esque room. Had Lonni pushed the envelope perhaps she wouldn’t have been eliminated.
The nursery that Dan designed for the Priestley family was nice. It was definitely creative, with a clear concept. Dan seemed to have a good handle on what he was capable of doing in the allotted time. Taking standard curtains and customizing them was a nice touch, as was the abstract boat art that he hung from the ceiling. All in all, this room contains a lot of things that are working well. The space was used wisely and the nautical theme was referenced in a number of ways without being literal or kitschy. The custom artwork, is a nice touch….but correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t that Design Star season one winner; David Bromstad’s signature move?
Both of the above contestants churned out rooms that were soft, neutral and generally expected. It makes me want to scream, BORING!!! YOU’RE ON DESIGN STAR! PLAY TO WIN, BREAK SOME GLASS, WILL YA!!!
Third up was Antonio. His goal was to please the star of Life on the D-List, Kathy Griffin. Finally, a contestant who stepped outside the box! Now for all of you haters out there, no, it’s not all flowers and butterflies for Antonio, so read on for the criticism.
To begin though, lavender- definitely a risky color. It takes me to two places: a little girls bedroom or retirement home. In this space, and in combination with the steel gray, I have to say, the color palette really worked for me. The modern, tech concept is evident not only in the color scheme, but also in the materials and furniture selected.
I was bought into Antonio’s design from the moment he went custom. Let’s face it folks, celebrity or not, everyone likes stuff that is made especially for them. It lets the client know that you are catering specifically to their needs and are willing to go the extra mile for them, rather than going a mile down the street to Crate & Barrel (sorry Lonni). The map that acts like a white board….love, love, love it! The clocks with various time zones- clever, and the desks with the bookcase dividers ooze practical and functional.
Big (and dare I say only) problem with this space- is ignoring scale! By not considering the size of the overall room, the furniture, the rugs and the accessories, the room doesn’t wow the way it should. The scattered rugs bother me the most, Antonio should have made the executive decision to remove them all together. It would have been nice to see some varied texture and more accessories, but the simplicity of the space is true to Antonio’s modern, tech concept and Kathy’s clean, Zen-inspired home.
I have to keep reminding myself that Design Star is a competition to find a host…not an Interior Design star. So true design knowledge and skills are not really as important as screen presence and likability.
Having said that, and in evaluation of the remaining contestants, I have a hard time distinguishing between Dan and David Bromstad. Aside from looking like long lost brothers, their signature touch also bears some resemblance. David works well for HGTV, after all, what Home Depot loving woman doesn’t like to watch a shirtless David work on his projects. However the question remains, does HGTV need a duplicate of something they already have?
Antonio on the other hand is something that HGTV has never seen the likes of. He is a breath of fresh air, rugged, tattoos, Tony Soprano style and all. If Antonio wins, he can do for HGTV what the boys over at American Chopper did for TLC.
One more week to go, but in my mind, the winner here is clear. Attention to detail and ability to complete projects on time and on budget (Dan’s episode 7 gazebo budget oops!) are key… So stay tuned, we’ll see how it all turns out next week.