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October 4, 2015

The Five: Reasons I should be loving Top Design

by Julia Ward, posted Feb 5th 2007 9:02AM
Todd Oldham Top DesignI should love Top Design. I really should. In fact, I'll give you five reasons why Top Design, the third jewel in the Project Runway crown, should be my favorite show on television right now. The sad fact, however, is that it's not. The first episode, which debuted after Top Chef's lackluster finale last week, was an awkward bore. The usually charismatic Todd Oldham was lifeless. Jonathan Adler as the lead adjudicator was corny. The interiors were uninspired. The drama was tedious.

Yet, I hold out hope that the show will acquire the addictive properties of its Bravo predecessors. Here are the five reasons why I'm giving Top Design a two to three episode reprieve before I nix it from my viewing schedule:

1. Todd Time!
Todd Oldham is the reason I tuned into Top Design. You may remember fashion-turned-interior designer Todd from his MTV House of Style segments - "Todd Time." Todd taught me so many valuable things in that charming, scruffy, unpretentious way of his. He taught me how to reupholster my coach with nothing but a staple gun and a dream. He taught me how to build office furniture, decoupage and give myself a snappy haircut with a pair of safety scissors. He's good friends with Amy Sedaris, and he reinvigorated the La-Z-Boy brand. As someone who watches television professionally, I can get behind a guy who invests his time in La-Z-Boy. So, why did Todd suck so hard on the Top Design debut? He was as adorable and sympathetic as ever, but also strangely detached and self-conscious. We know you're perkier than that, Todd. Make it work.

2. Risk-Taking wins over Safe
If the first elimination is any indication (sandbox in the floor wins over bookshelf in the wall), than the Top Design judges are picking up where the Project Runway and Top Chef judges left off - favoring artistic risk over mundane execution. It's why Jeffrey won over Uli, Jay won over Kara and Marcel made it as far as he did. It's also the reason lots of fans get pissy about the judges' final decisions. There's probably some complicated argument to be made in there about class, taste and art vs. democratic design, but I'll save that for another time, another post.

3. Dissing the Feng Shui
In both a promo for the show which dissed Feng Shui in favor of "spirituality wherever you find it" and in the first round elimination which sent Ms. Chinese Day Bed on her way, the show has given a big thumbs down to meaningless cultural appropriation as a design trend.

4. Mean Judges
The judges on Top Design make Simon Cowell look like an easy-grader. "If I had to live there, I'd shoot myself in the head." It looks like an "assisted-living facility." These guys are "cruel to be kind." It's just too bad the only sign-off Bravo could come up with was, "See ya later, decorator." Was "see ya, wouldn't want to be ya" taken?

5. Skilled Contestants
The contestants on this show are, for the most part, experienced design professionals and academics. Once they get to fly solo, I hope we see some of these folks really throw down - particularly Goil, already the fan favorite at my house.

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Doesn't Todd Oldham remind you of Kenneth on 30 Rock?

February 05 2007 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think I heard them say, "see ya later decorators" which was even worse than "goodbye."

February 05 2007 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Calling an interior designer just an interior decorator would probably be just as insulting as calling a fashion designer just a patternmaker or an artist just a painter.

February 05 2007 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it's "pack your knives".

February 05 2007 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't mind the show, but they really need to work on how they tell the losers how they are off the show. Top Chef had "pack your knifes", Project Runway had "Auf Wiedersehen", and Top Design had "goodbye"? That was so lame.

February 05 2007 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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