Sunday, August 26, 2007


What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas

Previously on Design Star: 11 designers. Las Vegas. Penthouse. Lisa got the boot. Kitchens. Bickering. Team leaders Neeraja and Josh got the boot. Individual roomlets. Not-quite-a-dollar store. Josh squeaked through as Adriana and Scott got the boot.

Morning. The remaining six designers do morning stuff. The editors inflict Robb on me some more. If you have to keep him around, could you at least not make him talk at me? The designers are hanging out in the master bedroom when Clive arrives and bangs the door. They hustle downstairs to rally around and get their next assignment. To wit: design a wedding reception for Stephanie (25) and Bruno (29), a Las Vegas couple who can't afford a wedding right now. Well, they can't afford the kind of wedding they really want. If there's one place you can get married on the cheap, it's Las Vegas. They'll be getting the wedding dress and the diamond ring as donations; the diamond people are also giving diamonds to the challenge winner. I'm feeling cynical about diamonds; I think they're overrated and prices are artificially inflated. But then, I don't wear jewelry. The designers get $10,000 to throw a reception for 75 guests, which seems more than ample to me, especially since the dress isn't coming out of their budget. They'll make presentations to the happy couple in the morning; the couple will pick a winning designer, who will get to lead the team in realizing that vision in just 16. However, they'll have to do it without the designer who had the least successful presentation. Left unspoken is the ritual of the judging and booting, so we'll be down two designers. Kim interviews that the designers are "dropping like flies" with all the double eliminations.

Stephanie and Bruno arrive to brief the designers on what they want. Stephanie has the usual princess fantasy, with the specific detail of "lavender and white roses." Bruno likes 50's ad 60's "rockabilly style." He also likes "retro" Vegas and the usual gaming gear. He'd like the tables to look like roulette tables. Stephanie wouldn't. But she does like his idea of having the tables all be different, rather than uniform. Will asks if she means the table decorations would be different, or the shapes of the tables? Stephanie is cool with either. Christina asks Bruno about his color preferences; he's into black, white and red. Should look sharp with lavender. Christina wonders if they could describe their idea for their wedding "together" but Bruno thinks the designers should handle the mix. He's sure he couldn't do it. Robb interviews about the weird color scheme. Yeah, that's twice he's gotten solo time on my screen, and there are more pleasant designers we have yet to hear from at all. Mix it up, editors.

The designers get to go on a field trip in a limo. Todd figures Bruno needs to just give in to the cult of the bride and let the day be "all about her." After all, boys don't start dreaming of their weddings from infancy. (Or if they do, they don't confess it.) Robb insists that the reception should be "a fifty-fifty compromise all the way" because "that's what a marriage is." So now I'm against compromise in a marriage.

First stop is the reception room. It looks like your standard hotel reception room with paisley carpet and fold-away walls, although this one seems to have a skylight. The designers measure and sketch. Next stop is a flower wholesaler, and then a rental company for table settings, and finally a big warehouse of random stuff for throwing events. Josh's saleclerk decides he's a she, perhaps thinking of a drag queen in mufti. Kim reveals that she was overwhelmed with all the stuff they had. Considering they have giant painted flames suitable for hanging, I'd be overwhelmed, too.

The designers head back to the penthouse. As they arrive in the workroom, they have 10 hours left to get their presentations in order. Josh is prepared to stay up all night to get it done. Will thinks he can give them everything they asked for. Kim is staying with her own "clean" style, so she's going for Las Vegas of the Rat Pack era. Josh hopes he's getting his sparkle back. He's featuring the initial of their last name in his design. Todd has his shirt off again; his design has lots of records and giant amps. Christina is going with Stephanie's lavender wish, because she totally gets the whole princess thing. Time ticks. Robb, Todd and Will head off to catch a (very) few Z's. Christina tries to decide if one hour of sleep is better than none at all. Josh is sure that a miniscule amount of sleep will make him cranky.

The sun rises. Looks like Kim caught some sleep, but Christina's still up at 5:35 am. And apparently the presentations are at 6 am. I can't even decide what to have for breakfast at that hour, let alone what a wedding reception should look like. Kim is worried about having Stephanie and Bruno deciding the fate of the losing designer.

Clive greets the happy couple and the presentations begin. Josh. Will. Kim. Robb. Todd. Christina. Robb. Todd. Kim. Will. Robb. Todd. Christina. Will. Josh. Robb. Kim. Todd. Josh. Christina. Stephanie is wondering where the fun is. A couple of times, they ask about a jukebox, so that seems to be important. The designers all fall asleep as they wait for the decision. Clive and the couple review the presentations.

The sleepy designers return to learn their fates. Stephanie thanks them for the hard work. And the winner is -- Robb. Gah! Well, team leadership is usually the kiss of death, so I still live in hope. Robb gets the diamonds. He interviews that the others counted him out, but he showed them. The happy couple leaves so they don't have to experience the downer of booting someone. Christina is out; she has to go pack her stuff while the other designers wait downstairs. Upstairs, she cries that she feels "like a failure" but downstairs she gives everyone hugs. Kim interviews that this time, the elimination "hit me really hard." The designers now have 16 hours to implement Robb's design. He goes over everything with the team.

Robb, Kim and Josh head back to the giant prop warehouse. First job, nail down the spinning dice. Will and Todd head over the reception room. Todd immediately starts running around the room like a pre-schooler. They start setting up the tables and dance floor, only to discover that Robb's drawing is not to scale. Why would you not draw the room to scale? The shoppers get more big stuff. Todd and Will try to figure out the risers. Todd figures Robb will arrive all excited about his great finds, but then he'll have to settle down and make some hard choices about what to keep. Robb checks off a list of stuff; a jukebox is being loaded onto the truck, so that's covered. Robb pays out $8065.20. Fortunately, not in $1 bills. Back at the reception room, Will and Todd have everything set up, so Todd starts getting acrobatic on the tables. He does a handstand on one end of the head table, which tips off the riser. Todd bounces back up, unharmed. I admit, I'm disappointed. Not that I want him dead, but a concussion might mellow him out.

The truck arrives and everyone unloads. We discover that Josh is a good six inches taller than Robb as he pitches in to help raise an arch onto some pillars. Robb interviews that he's very "determined." He shifts a sign behind the head table, although Todd thinks the couple will need the room to manuever. Will is worried that the room isn't what Robb presented. He points out that the colors of the chip "columns" holding up the arch are different than presented. Robb says this is why he wants to cover up the wall with curtains and bring in lights. Lights are not going to make those poker chips white and lavender. Will works on arranging the 20' high curtains around the room so the original walls can't be seen. Robb interviews that he's feeling the pressure. Good. And Clive puts an end to the day.

Morning. The designers have 4 more hours to work before it's showtime. Kim reports feeling "physically ill" because "a wedding is a one-day shot and it is the biggest day of these people's lives and no one's going to come in after us and fix it." Clive starts them off and sticks around for interviews. Todd starts stringing extension cords for the lights. Will is still working on the curtains. He's worried that a "half-done" room will be terrible, since the design is so "varied." Kim isn't happy about some of the flashing things, but "it doesn't matter" because the wedding "has to happen." Clive observes that Robb doesn't look flustered; is that good or bad? Robb admits to being flustered inside. They have a lot to do, but getting the white covering on the dance floor should help pull everything together. Josh has to go get place settings. Yeah, those would be important. Kim sets the tables with silverware and napkins. She reviews the settings with Will. Two hours to go.

The flowers arrive. Kim isn't happy with the flashing martini glasses, and she'd rather have all white flowers, but Robb decided otherwise. She strips leaves off flower stems as she talks. She just wants to make things as good as possible. Will gets to work covering the mis-colored poker chips with white cloth. Todd assembles the spinning dice.

Meanwhile, Stephanie and Bruno get married. The designers all rush around doing things. Josh ties boas around chairs. Robb and Will cover the wood parquet with white vinyl. Kim tells Josh that the tables still need setting. She's not trying to recruit him from his boa tying, she's just observing. Yes, I think table setting is more important than boa tying, too. Todd calls the five minute mark. Kim calls the two minute mark. Clive calls time. Robb thinks the couple will love it, but he's worried about the judges.

Speaking of which -- the Studio. Monitors. Judges. Robb recaps the couple's requests. Before: generic reception room. After: overdone Vegas monstrosity -- spinning dice, giant guitars and poker hands, "Welcome to Vegas" sign. Martha thinks the room looks very finished and Cynthia is impressed that they completely tranformed such a generic reception room. Vern wonders what the others would have done. Todd doesn't like the separation of the families, with tables on either side of the dance floor. Kim isn't into all the moving and flashing stuff. Will has issues with the space planning, especially with a lot of people moving around and through. Josh thinks the room was busy and he would have incorporated more of the princess element. Clive prompts Robb for a response, which comes down to, they picked me, so suck on it. However, he does say that everyone "did a phenomenal job" in pulling it off. Vern, that troublemaker, wonders if some people contributed less than others. "I don't want to say Will, you know, would be the weakest link, but in terms of contribution overall, I don't think that he did the most." Well, there are four people who didn't do the most; the issue now is whether Will did the least. Considering they all hustled their butts off, I'd be hard put to pick a weak link. Will lists all the things he worked on, which was a lot. Robb claims credit for the drapes, allowing that Will helped him out. Considering that Clive interviewed Will as he was working on the drapes, that's kinda nervy. Kim admits that Robb "has a strong management style," and is certainly better at leading than following. Robb is grateful for the kind words (although she did basically just say that he isn't good at following someone else's lead).

Clive introduces a clip of the couple arriving. They look around astonished. Stephanie calls it "so beautiful" and Bruno loves all the big stuff. Stephanie loves the boas and the inclusion of the lavender. Well, of course they're happy -- they just got married and the room isn't a shambles. An amusement park, yes; a shambles, no.

Vern, that troublemaker, has the designers name their main threat. Todd picks Robb, of course. Robb picks Todd. Kim picks Todd. Will picks Kim. Josh can't choose. Martha thinks they're "neck and neck" and someone needs to "stand out."

The judges confer. Martha is looking at how they present themselves, but Vern concerned with design. Martha picks Will as her least favorite. Will calls out Robb for the "weakest link" nonsense. Vern can't pick someone. Cynthia thinks they all have "at least two of the three" qualities they're looking for. Cynthia likes "a bit more eccentric personality." Vern points out that a series is at stake. It's going to be hard sending someone home, but they'll have to do it a couple more times. Martha wants to have concensus, but Vern doesn't see it happening.

The designers return. Clive reveals that the decision was based on previous challenges -- so apparently no one failed this time around. Robb is called forth. Clive says he was a "strong leader" who involved the whole team, so he survives. Dammit. Todd and Kim are also safe. So it's down to Will and Josh. Dammit. Clive brings up the bond between them. Will "would rather be standing beside anyone else." They hug. Clive says Will's "passion for design is clearly contagious" but Robb sold him out. Josh is a better shopper than designer. Josh gets the boot. Waaahh! He makes a graceful exit, though, so good for him. Will returns to the green room. Todd squeals, "No way!" and Robb is clearly disgusted. Good.

Right winner? Gak. The drawing had some elegance, but the room was more of a cartoon. I've been thinking about what I would do with the room, and it's easy to drop in big, "fun" elements. Beauty and elegance are a lot harder. Robb was able to lead and motivate his team without being a jerk, although I think he should have prioritzed a little better. But I still don't want him on my television.

Right loser? I think Christina's design was the weakest, so that was a reasonable choice. But Josh? The fact that the judges went back to previous challenges mean they didn't buy Robb's attempt to sell out Will because that, combined with his shaggy presentation, would probably have gotten him booted. But the judges didn't pick a loser for this challenge, so they went to their overall impression. I don't think one individual challenge is enough to give us a sense of Josh's skill as a designer, but he did establish his shopping skills and his taste. I think he was still a strong contender. Everyone executed well on the challenge. The only one who can be judged on design is Robb, and he certainly had some problems. Unfortunately, they can't boot him without insulting the happy couple's taste.

Of the pleasant people left, Josh had the strongest personality and that's what holds a show together. I have no interest in watching Robb or Todd. Will is a better designer than Josh and no shrinking violet himself, but he needs to work on his presentation. He's too colloquial for prime time. Kim has a nice warmth and she seems to be holding her own on the design side, so she's probably my favorite at this point. But if Will manages to win, I hope they team him up with Josh.


No one who wins will want to team with Josh Sparkle - not because he isn't a nice guy but because he is so charming that eventually the show will the the Josh show and the winner will fade to the background

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