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Choreographed Disarray

What makes a successful restaurant design? Jonathan Adler knows.

When you design a restaurant you need to CRANK. IT. UP!

Public space design is different from residential. A good residential interior should look like the client might have done it herself. Personal objects, a bit of choreographed disarray, and a soupcon of patina, some photos, et voila -- a nuanced, personal home.

Residential design is about the homeowner. Commercial design is about the designer's vision and nothing is more fun. Kelly Wearstler (or K-Dubs as I like to call her) ain't just a pretty face and an all around funster. She is a brilliant designer and her restaurants and hotels are testament to her majesty. She takes a theme, a motif, a spirit and pushes it to the limit.

I love to design public spaces. When I worked on The Parker Palm Springs hotel, designing the restaurants was my favorite bit. We approached the whole project by creating a narrative. We imagined the hotel as the estate of Mrs. Parker, the great aunt you always wished you had. Mrs. Parker (in my mind's eye) is a fabulous Auntie Mame kind of gal -- fun, glamorous, well-travelled, unpretentious, insousciant, chic.

Throughout the design process the whole team would say "Would Mrs. Parker do this?" or "Would Mrs. Parker have that?" Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Parker. Enough!

So, when we designed the restaurant, we concocted Mister Parker, (Mrs. P's dissolute wastrel of a husband) and imagined the restaurant as his lair. It's an odd mix -- clubby, kinda' baronial, mod fabrics on Gothic furniture, psychedelic and pornographic art. All in all, it's a freaky scene.

But it works -- cause it's over the top. Moi's point is that with restaurant design, you must go for it and the work this week was a bit spotty in that regard.

Andrea's winning room had all the elements a private chef's table should have. It was deluxe and chic and I'd be willing to spend squillions of dollars to eat there. Andrea teaches restaurant design, she totally gets it, she deserved to win. Andrea pushed it to the limit. Loved it. She has a subtle sensibility and she has some unexpected tricks up her sleeve.

The rest of the gang did more or less what I expected them to do. At this point in the competition it becomes quite clear who these designers are and what they stand for. They're all good, they're all contenders, and the competition is theirs to win or lose as it heats up. One bad week and any one of them could be later'd. Matt -- chic, chic, chic. Gorge proportions, rich materials, luxurious. Chic as always, but where was the sizzle? Dramatic gestures make a room memorable and I can't remember his design!

Carisa -- Pop and colorful and fun. She wasn't at the top of her game this week with that weird-ass endless banquette for her little table, but she always has a sense of simplicity that hits you in your gut. Matt is cerebral, and Carisa is intuitive. Goil -- Ideas for days. I j'adored that flower chandi. Yes, it is a bit odd to have droopy flowers over your plate, but Goil's creativity is PERFECT for restaurant design. When I walk into a Goil space, I am always surprised -- not an easy feat for a jaded old critter like myself. Goil's innovations are very memorable. But, can he design a pretty room?

Michael -- Sorry to see him go. Apparently Michael is not a crowd favorite, but I always looked forward to his rooms. Who can forget the "Home Sweet Home" pillow or the endless exploration of grape and margarine?

Sadly, this week was not his best effort. He got all residential on our asses and that was a bad idea. He shoulda' been themey and conceptual, but he wasn't and he deserved to be latered. Anyway, 23 years old, riddled with self esteem, ambitious, talented -- Michael is going to go far in life.

p.s. Believe it or not, I kinda' missed Ryan this week. I would have loved to hear another one of his nonsensical socio-political rants. A bourgeois restaurant design project would be his ideal battlefield. Would he have deigned to take on this project or would Mr. Foucault and Mr. Derrida have convinced him not to? What do y'all think he might have said? In honor of the late, great Ryan, Fight the power!

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