Let's meet the 12 interior decorators competing for a feature in Elle DÃ©cor, a chance to showcase their mad design skills at a major charity event, and a lackluster General Motors automobile. Oh, and also the honors that come with the first winner of Top Design, Bravo's latest effort to keep all you Project Runway and Top Chef addicts from ever changing the channel. The contestants are haughty, confrontational, more or less interchangeable, and just a wee bit catty -- and those are just the dudes. But before we have a chance to get overly familiar with the dirty dozen, it's competition time. The designers are tasked with creating an inner sanctum for a mystery celebrity with a $50,000 budget just a couple of items to serve as clues to the celebrity's wants and desires. The celebrity turns out to be Alexis Arquette, with the mystery apparently being, âHow in the hell does Alexis Arquette qualify as a celebrity?â
In the end, the delightful Goil and the non-descript Elizabeth take home this week's Top Design honors by creating a room whose centerpiece appears to be a giant swing. They barely beat out Matt and Felicia, whose elegant, chic room is more Patricia Arquette than Alexis Arquette. Carisa and Eric overcome the rookie mistake of too many throw pillows to live to fight another day, as do Ryan and Andrea. John and Michael narrowly avoid elimination despite the fact that both are convinced that the other one is a complete tool. Boys, boys -- you're both right.
That leaves Lisa and Heather, who are singled out for creating a room that's not so much an inner sanctum as it is a place where you'd expect to get a to-go box for your leftover order of General Tso's Chicken. And so they are dispatched by lead judge Jonathan Adler and his dreaded, feared, quite possibly inane catchphrase, âSee you later, decorators.â
Also, to all you people who pointed out the eerie similarities between the voices of host Todd Oldham and Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock: you have made the next ten episodes of my life very, very difficult.
Before wading in hip-deep to Bravo's latest attempt to ape the success of Project Runway, it's only appropriate that I lay out my own bona fides for commenting upon a design program. When we remodeled our bathroom last year, my greatest contribution to the process was to nod and occasionally grunt noncommittally whenever my wife asked me what I thought about assorted faucet fixtures. The closest I've ever come to being murdered in my sleep was when square tiles were delivered and installed on the bathroom floor instead of hexagonal tiles, and I tried comforting my wife by saying, "Well, it's really no big deal, isn't it?" To my discriminating eye, cobalt, denim, periwinkle, and robin's egg are just fancy-pants ways of saying "blue." So yeah -- this is right up my alley. Let's get designing, y'all.
Top Chef doesn't even have a chance to take a few final celebratory bows before it's hustled off the stage by the disembodied voice of
Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock Todd Oldham outlines the premise of the show: "12 of the very best designers from across the country" -- the country apparently consists entirely of New York, Chicago, and L.A., apparently -- have been summoned to Southern California. Each week, the dozen designers will be presented with a series of escalating design challenges. The one whose design is judged sublime will be featured in a glowing profile in Elle Decor, win the chance to show their stuff at that magazine's Dining By Design charity event, get a brand new ass-ugly car from GMC, and, oh yeah, take home $100,000 in filthy lucre. In addition, Todd informs us, they'll also earn "the prestige of creating the top design." Yeah, I think they'll be more be more motivated by the money.
Top Designers, roll call: Lisa! Goil! Carisa! Ryan! Felicia! Matt! Andrea! John! Elizabeth! Michael! Erik! Heaaaaaaaaaather! Top Designers, hey! Top Designers, ho! Top Designers, Top Designers -- go, man, go!
Ah, but names are meaningless in the cat-and-mouse game of cutthroat interior design. Let's meet the men and women who will sweat and strain for our amusement. First out the GMC Uglifier is Goil Amornvivat, who has two -- count 'em -- two degrees in architecture. He went to undergraduate school at Carnegie Mellon and graduate school at Yale, and while his voice-over regales us with tales of academic institutions that don't inspire bitter class resentment in public school-attending recappers, he checks into the loft where the Top Designers will be sequestered for the show's duration. To my disappointment, the loft is already furnished. I mean, shouldn't the first order of business for these top designers be to get them to design their own living quarters with a $300 budget and a couple of old cinder blocks? C'mon, Bravo -- I don't want to have to come up with every good idea around here. Anyhow, fancy-boy colleges aside, Goil seems like a nice guy in the 15 seconds we've met him. Goil describes himself as a problem-solver, not a stylist. To illustrate, he's shown repositioning a lamp. Consider the problem of the out-of-place lamp to be solved, people.