Liz Lange: "getting To Know You"

Liz Lange: "getting To Know You"

Liz Lange on her stint as guest judge.


When they asked me to be a judge for "Top Design," I was excited because I'm such a fan of Bravo, of "Project Runway" and "Top Chef." As a viewer, I understood how these shows work. I also knew that the challenge going in would surround children's rooms which is appropriate given what I do. But I certainly didn't know -- being previously just a viewer -- what it would be like to walk onto the set. I've been on TV before but I've never done something like this. For Target, I've helped make a few commercials so I wasn't completely shocked by the scale of the production. But I was surprised by how big a production "Top Design" -- and how big the set is -- the entire Pacific Design Center.


I was also surprised byhow much separation there is between the judges and the contestants. Just to make sure that the pool is never contaminated. I thought it was really incredible and positive. As a judge, you're not even allowed to see them. The first time that they saw me was when I walked the rooms to judge the challenge. For Liz Lange's bio, click here.
It's interesting to me now, today, as a viewer again to watch the show and to know a little bit more about the contestants and what they were dealing with. As a judge, I had no idea about any of it. It was refreshing to see that the judges can vote off anyone they want. Nothing is controlled by the producers; it's very real. At the beginning because there are a lot of contestants and a lot of rooms -- I tried to write down a lot of notes as we were walking. I wasn't familiar with the contestants so I wanted to write things down that would help me remember. Specifically, I was looking for certain things: Who followed the assignment; What rooms really did look like they were intended for a child; Who had an understanding of color and space and proportion? For Liz Lange's bio, click here.

Seeing the room only told half the story. Asking the contestants later why they chose a certain color or why they chose this object allow ed me to understand them much better. And frankly, this conversation can change your mind. Maybe they were assigned this color, or there were no other color chips left. I liken it, personally, to my own business. I look at my store sales every day, but if I don't speak to my customers, that information isn't useful. So I ask the sales people if a certain dress isn't selling. "Is it a dog or what?" And sometimes they say, "Oh, no. It's a short sleeve and everyone wants a long sleeve." So I think, "Oh, okay, so I won't drop that dress next season, I'll change it." As a guest judge, I thought the final decisions were pretty easy. What was difficult was the fact that people's careers are at stake. We took that fact very seriously. But we were in a fair amount of agreement on the decisions. For Liz Lange's bio, click here.

I think what we felt was the real deal breaker -- and for me as a viewer of reality shows I think it's very unfair -- is when someone doesn't finish the assignment. John didn't complete his room. I felt from the beginning that not finishing a room could be a deal breaker. Like on "Top Chef" if you're asked to cook three dishes but the contestant comes back with two. It doesn't matter if they're good if the other contestants made three. So at this point, I was really thinking of myself as the viewer again and I wanted to be a fair judge.

I was disappointed, actually, because I liked what I got to know of John. I think he's talented and would have been an asset to the show to keep around. In general, I think the work was a mixed bag. There were a few rooms that were so incredibly pulled together. The pirate room was so impressive. Amazing. I was really impressed with Goil and I liked him in the context that I saw him. I thought he was having fun with it. Another woman who made a room with orange and green and a lot of plants; that was great. The other room with lights in the walls that was sort of Chanel-colored: I liked that. Then, there were other rooms that I questioned the designers' taste levels. For Liz Lange's bio, click here.

Yes, yes, I watched the first episode last week. The very few questions that I got the chance to ask the contestants -- weren't all that revealing, so it was great for me to see the contestants in more depth and get to know them better. I wasn't able to see very much so I'm really excited to watch it every week as a fan. Final words? I'd say keep watching. And to the designers, It's tough. Stay at it and don't be discouraged. For Liz Lange's bio, click here.

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