This challenge was particularly difficult because each contestant needed to represent a cover of Elle Decor magazine without imitating it. I think being able to pick up the nuances and essence of each cover -- which of which were very graphic -- was the key to success. It is so much easier to look at a picture and copy it, but this challenge was to go a step further without recreating the cover. In addition to creativity, I was looking particularly at how designers set up juxtapositions between objects and shapes. Certain designers really know how to put the old and new together and find a fresh point of view. I'm constantly looking at the balance in a space.
Andrea's space was very nice but it had a flatness to it. There was a void in the room because everything was at one level. There needs to be something at certain level that pulls your eye around the room; that's a really important part of interior design. But more important is knowing how to balance the space. Even if everything is going to be brand new, which is fine, there still needs to be a tension between the heights of certain objects to keep your eye moving and then resting where it needs to rest.
I liked Carisa's space. Yes, there were a lot of things to look at, but I think that's what made it interesting. It's what made her room original. I thought the back wall was really well perceived and executed. It looked like real stone until you got up close. She really gets an A+ for effort because it could have looked cheesy and bad, and I think it looked really great. She did really well based on the budget and the style.
I also really enjoyed Matt's room. He has such a good sense of style. Everything he comes up with seems to come from the mind of a well-seasoned designer. He picks and chooses his products and shapes very well, and he understands the yin and yang of old and new. His work was the most sophisticated of the three. My first day meeting the designers was when I arrived on the set, and that was judgment day. But I have been watching "Top Design" on TV at home, which has been interesting, maybe a little strange.
I feel for some of the people who got kicked off earlier. I think if it hadn't been for some mismatched teamwork, certain people probably would still be there. But that's the breaks. You have to work with many partners in this business. That said, I can completely understand why these were the final three: they were the best. When it came time to making our final decisions, the judges were all feeling the same thing on some levels even though we all have different points of view. The draperies that Matt hung in his room were very refreshing; they left a very gauzy aura. I think it was Kelly who didn't agree with me. But that's cool, that's what makes the world go around. As for the final two, there is a level of interior design that Matt and Carisa have that Andrea doesn't have yet. I think her architectural background helped her win two weeks earlier at the restaurant challenge. That's a more architectural challenge. It will be fascinating to see who wins. For Michael Berman's bio, click here.