Picasso Said It Best

Kelly Wearstler talks about hotel room design.

One design challenge, not two but three days to complete it, and the four elements utilized as themes for this week's test, to create a stylish hotel suite for today's busy traveler. "If you know exactly what you are going to do, what is the point of doing it?" -- Pablo Picasso For the designer presented with a challenge you are not immediately comfortable with, Picasso's quote encourages us to take heart. Few designers are lucky enough to receive those mythical flashes of inspiration where an idea appears whole in your mind. This means your job is to simply recreate that flash of inspiration as faithfully as possible. The rest of us may have to do what I usually do, start layering out the job, one layer at a time.

Matt, whose chic interpretation of water won this week's Top Design, is a self-professed "floor snob." His chic interpretation of water felt tight, confident, and was easy to feel comfortable in. Goil, as usual, had a different take on fire than what one might have expected. While he was thinking sunset, I might've thought sunrise. I was astonished that he felt insecure with his element choice. Goil, who has described himself as "saucy," certainly radiates fiery energy. His choices were unique, but perhaps developed a little late in the game so that time got the better of him. It's hard to stop when you feel your room is not ready. No investor is going to see one of my model rooms until I know it's as close to ready as it can be. I feel for you, Goil!

Carisa and Andrea both applied their theme literally and liberally, with varying degrees of success. Carisa's strong, confident voice came through loud and clear. I thought her screens were vibrant, clever, and boldly marched down the center of this week's guidelines. kelly_108_02_320x240.jpg

Andrea's room, on the other hand, did not demonstrate her best work thus far. If anything, it looked a bit like one of Michael's rooms, where the color choices actually drain energy instead of the other way around. The grass was an imaginative but awkward choice, and the banquet zapped the room of any warmth a few comfortable chairs might have lent it.

I have designed many a hotel room. Budgets aside, there are so many obstacles inherent to designing for the hotel occupant. Today's busy traveler expects luxury, ease, and that feeling of being in a room you wish you never had to check out of. That's the affect Matt's room had over me. Congratulations on your upcoming Metropolitan Home magazine spread, Matt!

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A Nightmare To Decide

India Hicks' take on why Nathan ultimately had the Top Design!


Bloody hell I can't believe it's over. How incredibly well they did. What a nightmare it was deciding. How easy the producers made it look ... evil little elves. It was in fact agony, painful, and heartbreaking because every one of those worn-out designers was a winner. This final challenge really was a way to showcase expressions of individual taste in a multiplicity of styles. And there were more than just moments that I loved about each designer's house, but in particular...

Perfect Preston -- believe me that is a high compliment -- I am a Virgo and love nothing more than perfectionism (I am endlessly tidying the paper clips on my desk or lining up baby diapers into flawless little rows.) His polished designs resonated strongly with me. His guest room was outstanding and remarkably detailed given the time constraints. The molding through out was a masterful gesture against the quiet palette, with his clever soft touches of color to take the chill off the monochromatic interior. (What were those absurd exclamations from me throughout this tour? "Oh" "groovy" "fantastic") So well-orchestrated was Preston's time in this finale that he hardly needed any help from his assistant, maybe only a cup of coffee....

Ondine's diminutive slick office space was the height of chic in my view. My father said "Decorating is the art of accentuating the best and covering up the worst" and here was a perfect example, a small, nondescript box of nothing became a little bold, a little eccentric, and quite luxurious. We have seen over these weeks how well-versed in the history of design Ondine is and in her house she deftly propelled her inspirations from the past into the future, working comfortably with what already existed.

Ondine excelled in creating a house with a distinctly charming feminine feel. The boy's bedroom in Nathan's house, although swept over quickly, caught my eye (And I know a thing or three about boys' bedrooms), a room rich with kid's character. There were artfully arranged groups of objects, and a color scheme neither too sophisticated nor too childish, and a funky custom bed where a seven year old could feel special every night.

Preston, Ondine and Nathan were all design heroes. They had fought, and survived. But to earn the right to say you have the Top Design needed a truly fresh approach. We were looking for grand and humble, daring and iconic, unique in vision, and enduring in legacy. Nathan's house held unexpected juxtapositions, bold moves, and a fearless imagination. His house was imbued with a sense of excitement. Nathan is very much a decorator, which is not exactly the same thing as an interior designer. The designer devises efficient solutions to questions of space; decorators impose their own personal often idiosyncratic vision to that space using trade mark techniques. I did believe he had just what we were looking for. Nathan had The Top Design.

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