Monday, August 3, 2009

My Thoughts: Design Star White Room Challenge

Ok, so what would you do? Someone walks you into a space 10'x10' with 10' ceilings. They give you $1000, and say design something. You get a sofa, ottoman, coffee and side table, lamp and 6' 5 shelf bookcase. Oh, one more thing - that money - use it at the grocery store! Last night certainly presented a challenge to the designers on Design Star, a challenge that I think most of them conquered. Each room said a lot about the designers' unique vision for design, and how well they can plan, create, and finish a design when left to their own devices.

This week I was most impressed with two rooms, and you can probably guess which ones those were. The first:

Dan's "Apple Orchard" Re-envisioned. Now, for the record, Dan is my pick this year for winner of the show. I think he has a unique and tasteful vision and a flair for design that several other designers on the show just haven't found yet. And for the design: shopping for items to design a room at a grocery store is not easy, I took a spin around the local store here the other night with this challenge in mind; so with that said I loved:
  1. That he painted the sofa to mimic leather - such a fantastic idea of the space he created around it.
  2. Love the firewood graphic on the walls, and the firewood used as legs to the console table.
  3. Love the fact that he used three basic colors for the design: brown, red, and white and that he repeated so many of the textures and accessories to create a continuity that reads expensive.
  4. Really like the space plan.

Things that I question a little:

  1. Where did he get the extra lumber he used in some of the creations here? Am I the only one who saw this? I know that the vertical frame to the apple graphic behind the sofa is the two side pieces to the 6' bookshelf. Where is the top piece from? Evidently, it is the unused side to Nathan's bookshelf he decided not to use in the space, but was that fair to the others?
  2. The art in this room (in theory) is nice. I love that he used the shelves from the unit to create canvas, but I think that the art could have had a larger scale circle. For me, the art missed the mark.

Overall, though - this room was by far my most favorite of the night, and I see the most potential for design success in Dan.

Moving on to my second favorite of the night:

Now there are a lot of things about this room that make me tilt my head. You know, that sorta confused animal head tilt. But I picked this room as my second favorite because of his thoughtful use of grocery store items. As creative as I might be, I would have never used milk to create the striped effect on the walls of that room - and as beautiful as it was, I still feel sorry for the team of prop staff who had to work at deconstructing that space. Ewww. The things I loved:
  1. The wall treatment. As confusing as the idea was, and as smelly as the days after must have been, the fundamental theory of the technique is fabulous. Really fabulous.
  2. The orange ring chandelier! Now, if that wasn't your favorite grocery store item put to good use of the night - then you weren't watching! :) The idea of a capiz shell chandelier made with oranges by hanging the provided lamp upside down, and linking orange cuttings together around it - that was genius.
  3. The flokati-esque rug made from oatmeal and rice.
  4. The use of twine to create interest to the provided tables.
  5. The graffti "fabric graphic" he created on the sofa.

The things that I questioned:

  1. The candles. They just had me a little perplexed. I understood the idea, but I think overall they didn't add anything to the overall presence. I would have liked the room without them, or seem them used as sconces on the wall with orange peel covers.

I again, will say that the challenge, overall was conquered by all the designers. I was impressed with so many of the ideas in almost all of the rooms - but these two were my favorites of the night. And, really had me saying, "I would have never thought of that."

Now, what would I have done? Who knows - it's so hard to say without having $1,000 to spend at the very same grocery store on the very same day. My mind travels to reynolds tin-foil though, and having that backwall fully covered in a basket woven pattern in the mirrored-like finish of the foil. Of course, I could have just used foil on the walls to create a series of mirrors too, for a repetitious look. In fact, I think that corn husks woven together would have been a fantastic idea too, but time allows for very little of that sort of creative work. What about you? What would have done? Who was your favorite? Do you think they made the right choice in sending the "color expert" home?


  1. Artie,

    I totally agree with your observations and Dan has been my pick from the start as well. I really thought the two rooms above were the only two that felt like a room... not a space decorated with groceries! I have no idea what I would do with this challenge, I think I would probably crumble under the pressure. Every time I think about it I think my ideas are way too predictable...probably why I will never be on TV! :) And yes, I think they sent the right person!

  2. I had mixed emotions on the whole show. I liked Dan's the best.I think that they picked the right top 3 and sent the right person home. Honestly I think this is the weakest group of ppl they have had. I find myself not having a favorite which usually by now I'm pulling for someone. As far as what would I do I really don't know what i would've done....Jo

  3. Artie--I am glued to this on Sunday nights. Your two favorites were mine as well, but I did like Torie's room, What's up with Antonio? They're weeding out the whiners :)

  4. Dan's was definitely my favorite, and I agree with your choice for 2nd. It was a toss up for me between this and Torie's room, but this won me over with the chandelier. Love the look of the walls, but my first thought was the smell after a while under those hot lights - YUCK. I have no idea what I would have done, but my first thought was apples. Love your aluminum foil idea. Can't wait til next week. Kathy

  5. Thank you for your visit to my blog!
    I, too, am a Design Star fan and have chosen Dan as my pick to come out on top. The top three were my list too but there were sure some poorly done efforts....I agree that this year is the worst group of designers ever!

    How is real estate in your area? I am in So CA and it stinks out here! We have a home to sell and have to wait and hope that the home values make a comeback in the near future!!

    Hope you will visit Grandma G's again!


  6. Hello
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and taking the time to update me on all of the fantastic stores in the US. Yes, I did go shopping last July and that is when I posted. However, it was nice to get specific places in the Niagara Falls area because that is where I would be going. I found your suggestions helpful because I am "due" to go on another trip and I appreciated the exact addresses etc. Thanks again and much appreciated...Jill

  7. HI! #1: Yes, they definitely sent the right person home. you think if the scale of the circles on Dan's art pieces were bigger, they might compete with the back wall a bit? I think they might have. But, at the same time, get where you're coming from. Another great analysis. Would love to have seen you on the show.

  8. I love the first one.. can't get past the thought of the smell of soured milk on the second. bleech. But I love what they did with all of the grocery items (especially that orange ring chandelier! And I love your ideas with foil (it makes some really cool impressions and designs, too). I would have probably done something crazy like using the foil and some of the wild and wacky fruits and veggies to create some "Jetson-esque" scene (which is why I'd NEVER be on a show like that, but I MIGHT be on America's Funniest Home Videos...). :<)

  9. I missed it Sunday nite! After watching the first 2 shows I really didn't think I'd be missing much! This is the most disappointing season of all! Honestly, I didn't like any of them when I looked online today. If I had to pick I would agree with you except for your 2nd pick. Milk on the walls!!!! YUCK! I love your idea using foil! I know the idea is to show creativity but sometimes I think they try too hard. Shouldn't part of the challenge be creativity that is fast and easy and still looks good? What about the floral dept.? Candy? The bakery aisle with cheesecloth, marshmallows, spices? and what about the bakery itself? French breads, poppy seed bread...pastas! Uh Oh! You got me going now! But hey, what do I know? I still love my silk flower arrangements! LOL! Lauralu :)

  10. I'm so traditional to the bone that I didn't really care for any of the designs. BUT, I understand the challenge to show creativity. With that in mind, I agree with your choices. Looking forward to your observations next week. Sally

  11. Great observations Artie! And sound advice. The orange chandelier and the firewood wall art were just incredible! Bravo to them both. I would switch the two though as I think Dan's is just too busy. I wish he had taken out the art work on the two side walls and some of the smaller furniture as they are distracting from the GREAT backwall. The second one is wonderful and I love the colors of blue, black, orange, white. Thanks for your post.
    G in CT

  12. I agree with G in CT. A much more elegant design solution with a creative use of materials within a minimalistic approach. The juxtaposition of visual texture, graphical elements, and final execution looked effortless. The kid pulled it off.

  13. Unfortunately Artie we do not get the same programming here in Canada (but we do have our own series). During the process of reading your explantation of the challenge......I immediately thought of the potential of (Aluminum) TIN FOIL; thus its use wud have been a logical choice for me as well.

    Great minds think alike?? (Winks!)

  14. Another good job 'calling' the top spots Sunday evening. For me it was a toss-up between Tashika (copycat) and Color Expert. Dan has been my favorite since episode #1, with Nathan a close second!

  15. I agree with you! THANK GOODNESS they sent the right person home!

  16. Hi Artie,

    Your second choice was my first, but I could have done without the print on the sofa. I do agree, the candles could have been used in a different way. I enjoy the show very much.


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