Down To Two

Down To Two

Todd Oldham shares his thoughts on the remaining contestants.

I can't believe it's down to two! What a crazy ride this has been. We have seen some amazing ideas, some intense situations and some authentically great design.

I thought this week's challenge, the Elle Decor cover challenge, was a smart one as it really presented an exciting platform to let the designers shine. We were down to Andrea, Carisa and Matt, all major talents. This challenge mirrors a situation a lot of designers encounter in real life projects, a client showing you images they like and wanting something different. Interpretation of design is often more challenging than coming up with completely original efforts, but all three did terrific jobs.

Andrea came up with a design detail that I am so jealous that I didn't think of it first, her beautifully hand-embroidered baseboards! How luxurious and smart. I think this detail so perfectly captured the spirit of Andrea's design aesthetics. As a trained architect, Andrea always surprises me with her ability to think linearly like an architect should, but she always makes sure there is always a human touch to her efforts. I loved the beautiful orange paintings and especially enjoyed watching Andrea paint them herself. At this point in the Top Design competition someone has to go and sadly, this week, it was Andrea. Well done Andrea, and I'm sure we will be seeing lots of your amazing work for a long time.

Carisa wowed us all with her vibrant collage of a room. So many great design ideas in this project. I was crazy for the faux rock plasterwork on her back wall. A great technique with loads of possibilities. Carisa has such a unique and steady approach to color. Her irreverent combinations always charm me and there is always a great blend of perfect touches. It would be so much fun to hang out in that room. I really enjoyed watching Matt work this week. He is the perfect mix of old school design talent and craftsman. Matt's super rich neutral palette looked a little flat on TV but in person the subtle tone shifts and blend of raw elements with the refined, was absolutely beautiful. I really liked Matt's Rorschach-esque paintings. They added the right abstract touch in the room and Matt painted them all.

Thanks for all your feedback on the show and it is most interesting hearing your comments. I am often asked why I'm not a judge and why I do not offer more critical feedback to the designers, I decided early on that I would not be a good judge if I were also in the mentor/helper role. I would not be able to support the designers in an honest way and I don't think they would have trusted me if I was also the judge.  My role as mentor was one of happy support. I never offered up my personal opinion on anything. I would ask a series of questions to help the designer find there own answer. I am always happy to share a technique or problem solving idea, but these challenges are not about me. If I thought the designer had made a well educated decision, and really believed in it, I was always supportive regardless of if I liked it or not.

Design is the ultimate of subjective arts. I also declined to be interviewed privately about my opinions of the designers' work because if I had something to say I would have said it to them, not behind them. Hope that explains my point of view. Two left, both kick-ass designers, stay tuned.

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