Triathlete's Foot

Jonathan Adler's scoop on the Triathlon.

Successful design should take you to a groovy place and resonate with a successful design moment in the past ... Not sure what I'm talking about?

This week's triathalon illustrates the point. Nathan's winning chair with its electric blue and gold lame, (the winner of Leg 1 of the Triathlon of Design) worked because it was totally Thierry Mugler, 1982, hard-glamour, New Wave meets punk, giant shoulder pads, Area club, when drugs were fun and New York felt like Oz (the magical city, not the prison). Meow! Nathan's winning design in Leg 2 of the Triathlon, the tablesetting challenge, couldn't have been more different. I was transported to the French countryside and I fully expected to see Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas comin' round the bend with a heapin' plate of hash brownies before we all sat down for a lunch (with Van Gogh too--why not?) full of intellectual bluster and peasant-y bread.

Natalie's winner in Leg 3, her garden room, evoked a slightly more mundane but equally resonant experience, chilling out on a Sunday afternoon, soaking up the sun, wanting the day to never end, not a care in the world. Those were the winners. There were other very successful designs that transported moi to happy places.

Preston's chair: dramatic, glossy, sleek, reminded me of staying at The Royalton in the '90s when boutique hotels felt new and glamorous. Eddie's beautifully set table transported me to the Hamptons, catered lunch, rich old nouvelle society broad playing country squire. Gorgeous Natalie's tablesetting transported me to a country club (probably a country club this Gay Jew can't set foot in), just off the boat, rosy-cheeked from wind and sun, ready to tuck into a scrumptious lobster. Now for the bummers.

Not feeling Mr. Ross' yellow chair in Round 1. Felt like a Saturday morning cartoon. Natalie's chair in Leg 1: Prom night 1987.

Oy veh! Preston's table setting: The Real Housewives of Orange County breaking bread at an outdoor fusion restaurant in a strip mall. And, most bummerish of all, Teresa's zen moment which just took me to the plant section of a Wal-Mart. Teresa. Adored her, couldn't have been lovelier, and I think she hit the nail on the head when she said that her talent isn't suited to a competition which gives designers a half hour to whomp up a space. That isn't how it works in the real world and not everybody can make it happen so quickly.

God knows I could never do what these crazy kids do. I need time to think, screw up, analyze, and recover. So does our Teresa and that's OK. Teresa, can't wait to see your talent continue to unfold and watch your career develop splendidly. Nathan, our victorious Triathlete. He's a sophisticated one. He has shown us in the past couple of episodes that he knows how to hit all the right notes when decorating. Creative, cool, pretty, never too perfect, provocative, and, most importantly, always transports me to a happening scene.

- Jonathan Adler www.jonathanadler.com

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