Joe Stewart: "What Does The Client Want?"

Guest Judge Joe Stewart addresses the all-important question.

Editor's Note: Joe Stewart is more than the guest judge on tonight's episode of "Top Design." He is the set designer responsible for the shiny black floor and tufted walls in The White Room. Bravo was happy that Joe took time away from his busy schedule (he called us from the tents at the Independent Spirit Awards where he was setting up) to talk about not only judging, but designing the set where the winners and losers are announced.

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The job designing the set came from my relationship with Scott Stone, one of the producers of Top Design. We've known each other for a very long time. In fact, we made Jane Fonda videos together. The truth is everybody in town did them. There were 17, I think. And I did the last four.

Scott and I also worked on a game show called, "Shop Till You Drop." So he called me up and we hadn't worked in a long time and I thought: how fabulous. My plan for the white room was ...I think it's always good in television if you have some sort of signature thing that's easy. It can be anything as long as it's easy and you can say it in one sentence like "the white room."

Once I had that idea, then I started playing around and added the tufting, the shiny floors, etc. I use those floors all the time because they add depth. We use them on award shows because they hide things. Music shows they're great for, too.


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Later, when they called me and asked if I would be a guest judge, I said of course! I would be happy to. So I grabbed two changes of clothes and showed up for hair and make-up -- although I don't need hair because I don't have any.

I really didn't know what to expect. But the day turned out really very nice and everyone was so polite. Margaret is pretty fun. I like her a lot. Kelly is great, too. I had such a great time with both of them.

I wasn't surprised by the contestants work, actually. I work with a lot of students in theatrical designs. Some is better than others. There's always something good. It's very rare when  everything is completely terrible.

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As for Felicia, well, I couldn't figure out where the afghan came from. I thought, "Oh my god. Somebody lost their mind when they were shopping."

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The thing about Ryan's black room: it wasn't "successful," but he was into making a statement. In his mind, it was more of an art installation. The question was whether or not the client was about that, did they want that.

At the end of the day, that's what it came down to.

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