Feel Good Livin'

Jonathan Adler describes how good design affects mood.




I don't know about you, but when I walk into a room I want to feel a rush of pleasure. I want Interior Design (or decoration, I couldn't care less what you want to call it) to have a positive effect on my mood.

Now, every room doesn't need to look like a shrill DeeLite video -- that's not what I mean by happy design. Whether it's traditional or avant-garde, your pad should be optimistic and uplifting.

That's what my book, "My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living" was all about and that's what this episode of Top Design hinged on. The winning design -- happy, colorful, hedonistic. The loser -- depressing.


Mad talent was in effect on this episode. There were gorgeous moments and lots of interesting concepts. Matt, as always, designed a confident room with some nifty touches. He's a wise fellow -- he always starts with symmetry which helps make sense of chaos. Then he layers in some flavor and adds little visual pings in just the right spots. J'adored that siamese twin lamp thing he concocted and he really listened to his client's Armani Casa edict. The room felt serene and chic.


Goil -- brilliant, brilliant ideas. Cutting off the back legs of those chairs was a stroke of genius, a totally provocative idea, and it's something I fully intend to use in a future project. Fabulous! Mucho visual stimulation, tres thought-provoking, but, overall it felt a bit kookoo.

Andrea's design is a perfect example of the power of color. She had loads of interesting stuff going on; I totally dug the whole Sam Spade 40s vibe, loved the way she re-used the doors and her space plan was cool, but, and this is a big but (trying desperately not to make any Norbit puns here) the grey color scheme was a real downer. Grim, Germanic, grody.


Ditto Michael. Michael has been steadily redeeming himself episode by episode and showing that he can work hard and think hard. He has a good, connoisseurial eye -- he found some nice bits at the garage sales, particularly his rug and lamp. But, banana yellow and grape purple? BANANA and GRAPE???? Michael, what were you thinking?

Plus, I don't know what was up with them birds on the wall. Anybody got any ideas about that?

Eric's design was thoughtful and handsome. Again, that one showed that he really knows how to whomp up a room. I walked into his room and I felt good.


Ryan's room did not have a great effect on my mood. I appreciated that he had some bold gestures and fresh ideas, but the whole thing gave me a headache. More on Ryan later.

Carisa's room made me feel good. I felt that rush of pleasure which only good design can deliver. She didn't have the new ideas that Goil rocked or Matt's chic factor, but the exuberance of her room won me over. There was something very intuitive going on -- she didn't overthink it or potchky it up. Carisa designed a space that was impactful, bold, and had an economy of gesture. It was all about strong color and simplicity and it felt great to behold. Kudos.

Felicia's room had the opposite effect. Walking into her space felt like Zoloft rushing out of your body. Her client was bummed out, never a good thing. Felicia's a super talented chick -- I've checked out her website and so should you -- but this room was not her best moment. And, the worst moment of all was that afghan. As La Russell would say, Granny Granny Granny!


Speaking of La Russell, she and I were both not digging Ryan's attitude this week. No, we were not. Ryan's message was that he is an ARTIST, not merely a designer, and he was a wee bit snotty about fabrics and decor. Sorry, luv, last time I checked this was a reality television contest about one's ability to whomp up a room, not a MoMa retrospective. And thank God for that cause his spaces so far ain't too MoMa-able.

Ryan -- there's nothing wrong with a swatch or a pretty room. Take that talent and ambition and learn your stuff. Then you can be all badass -- life is long and you are young.

Long live Britney!

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