Chicago Home to Top Designer (and a Shear Genius?)
By Olivia Leigh in Miscellaneous on Apr 12, 2007 5:40PM
In an anti-climatic end to a anti-climatic season, Chicago boy and long-regarded favorite, Matt Lorenz, was affirmed to have the Top Design on Bravo's interior design reality show.
The final challenge offered the final two designers more range than they’d received in any previous challenges, with the mission being to design a posh loft in the gallery district of LA. While the premise sounded interesting, the selection of the designers themselves as the client left little opportunity for tension or drama. Without any need to adapt their style to suit the needs or personality of a client and no opportunity for client critique, the challenge seemed trite, especially when they were given a superfulous $150,000 budget (plus additional thousands for the kitchen, extra materials and labor).
In the end, the designers stuck to what they did best, with Matt, a talented but arrogant designer at Chicago's Darcy R. Bonner and Associates, serving up his typical mix of oatmeal-colored chicness, whereas Carissa Perez-Fuentes, a whiny design student, went with bold colors and graphic elements. While most people, including us, expected Matt to dominate without much of a contest, we actually found ourselves preferring Carissa’s bright, fun space (we especially loved the sunken bed, perfect for lots of naughty activities, according to judge Jonathan Adler). However, in the end, Matt, who was continuously praised for his upscale, well-edited (and very Elle Decor-esque) style, won the big prizes, as Carissa received the old, "See you later, decorator" (one of the worst "good-bye" phrases on television, second only to The Search for the Next [Pussycat] Doll's "You can hang up your boa.").
After the disappointment of Top Design, which is largely believed to not be renewed for another season, Bravo started up the old reality wagon again immediately after the Top Design finale with the premiere of Shear Genius.
After about five minutes of watching, we were seriously tempted to turn off the ridiculous program, but suddenly realized that watching the show was just like watching a Christopher Guest mockumentary. From the overdramatic explanations of asymmetric cuts to the third person references; from Frenchman Paul-Jean’s stereotypical snootiness to the “hair art” featuring a functioning treasure chest perched atop a model’s head, this show may quickly become the latest comedy sensation. Calumet City native, resident badass, and straight dude, Ben Mollin, will be flinging his scissors each week for a chance to win cash and a styling opportunity with Allure magazine.
Images from Bravo.com.