Commercial break: You know that GM Acadia ad where the different car parts fly magically across the L.A. skyline to a dreamy cover version of "I Melt With You" only to assemble into the bland pleasantness that is the new Acadia in this wide open area with a gorgeous view of downtown Los Angeles? It's taken me several viewings, but I finally realized that this is taking place in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. I was thrown by the lack of bumper-to-bumper traffic and blinding sea of taillights.
When we return to the White Room, the Top Designers are line up and listening to Todd's recap of the past 20 minutes -- design a live-work space, spend $1,200, hit garage sales, yadda, yadda, yadda. It seems to me that if Top Design were to ditch the interminable refreshers as to what just happened, we'd have a lot of extra time on our hands for things like judging. Speaking of which, let's meet the judges. You know them, you love them, you're baffled by their decisions -- Jonathan, Kelly (who apparently experimented with a fork and an electric socket seconds before the camera rolled) and Margaret. Oh, and this week's mystery judge is Joe Stewart, which is terrific because I think he's great on The Daily Show. Huh? Joe? Really? Well that's another matter entirely -- this Joe is a set decorator whose work has appeared on a lot of shows we don't recap around here ["One of which was Friends, which I believe completely disqualifies him from being able to judge anything about a twelve-by-twelve space, since the only space that small on that show was Phoebe's cab." -- Joe R] Oh, and he also designed the White Room at the Pacific Design Center. Which, save for the judges' stools, is completely barren. So that must have been an exciting 90 seconds for him.
Let's tour some three-walled rooms, starting with Matt's. It's a pair of pea-soup green walls, bookending a black wall -- hope the judges don't deem that an inappropriate color for a 22-year-old. Also, you wouldn't look at any of the furniture in Matt's room and figure that it came from somebody's discard pile, which is good, since that's supposedly the point of this challenge. Andrea's room has an Ikea showroom feel to it -- no, that's not intended as a compliment. Between the light hardwood floor and the flimsy looking-furniture, it has a very cheap feel to it. The couch/bed doesn't appear to be very comfortable for either function, and the suitcase appears to be stuck on the wall for no other purpose than to make the judges say, "Hey -- a suitcase stuck on a wall. Now there's something you don't see every day." As for my main man Goil, he's divided the room into two halves -- one side for relaxation, the other side for work -- separated by a raised floor. Goil has also invented the two-legged chair -- it's a regular chair with the back legs sawed-off so that you can prop it against the raised levels of the room. Sound weird? It's only the runner-up, kids; top honors for goofy design flourish goes to the mattress that Goil has embedded into the floor. As the judges walk off, Goil catches Andrea's eye and clutches his chest in the international symbol for "My nerves! My fragile nerves!" Between this and the jig from earlier, Goil is rapidly turning into one of the few Top Designers to show some personality -- well, a personality that doesn't involve personal conflicts and skateboard stunts at least.