Top Design or Top Decorator?

I have to admit, I have yet to watch a full episode of Top Design on Bravo, but I have to throw this question out there to those of you who do watch, is it truly top design or more or less top decorator?

I know here at IIDA we are proud to be legislative advocates for our designers, fighting to ensure interior designers’ education and practice is upheld within their states. I realized upon a quick visit to their site, they seem to refer to all of the contestants as designers. It is (nearly) impossible to tell if they have an educational background or certification as a designer, but is Bravo being too flippant with its use of interior designer? Is Bravo missing the point or should I tune in and be surprised by the design aspects of the show?

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6 responses to “Top Design or Top Decorator?

  1. This is a good question. And, definitely one that I have thought about before. It does seem like the show doesn’t entirely distinguish who has had education and who hasn’t. I think sometimes it will get mentioned like, oh this person went to school here, this guys an architect, and this girl used to be a fashion designer.

    It really is such a tough subject and should be better distinguished on the show. Whether one person is known as a decorator or a designer does not change the talent they may or may not have. For the most part, I think all the challenges on the show lean towards decorating, they’re not knocking down walls or concerned with accessibility, etc.

  2. christakoskosky

    Perhaps I will have to tune in and make a judgment of my own. Thanks for commenting Lisa! Anyone else?

  3. I don’t watch this show, but I do watch HGTV’s Design Star, where in the first episode they explain the backgrounds of the different contestants. Each year, there are a few professional designers, decorators, some artists, and a few people with no official qualifications but lots of talent. The winners so far have hosted “makeover” shows, avoiding work that might require building permits or code compliance, and the contestants are judged according to their ability to animate and produce this kind of content.

    HGTV’s higher-end design shows like Candice Olson’s shows and Designing for the Sexes where structural changes are made are highly dependent on the clients’ budget, since this programming is rather limited-market. Hidden Potential has found a clever way of circumventing this production cost barrier by only offering design services, and not actually fulfilling the chosen design solution.

    Having worked in real estate for several years, I can confirm that it is often more economical to relocate to a more adapted residence and make minor modifications than to stay in the same place and make major modifications, as is done in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Though custom homes can uniquely satisfy a family’s needs, the return on investment (building/purchase + remodel cost v. resale value) is much less than that of more generic homes, like tract developments, which can be built quickly and cheaply, often because they are poorly designed, or rather lack any design considerations beyond minimal code compliance.

    Consequently, because home equity is the primary source of savings for the majority of American families, the custom home/major remodel solutions are reserved for a relatively small demographic that can afford to have low home equity or keep a residence long enough (generations, perhaps) to effectively amortize its cost.

    Interior designers are too often brought in as an afterthought, whereas we need to be more present in programming and plan development in large-scale residential construction, thought I couldn’t tell you how we’d convince America’s homebuilders to think more about design and less about the bottom line. Homebuilders are in it to make money, and as long as they they can “Wow” the public into buying pretty, moderately-priced homes, they will continue to forgo interior design services in new construction.

    Of course, if all new constructions had brilliantly designed interiors, a lot of designers would be out of a job eventually. I guess you can’t have it both ways.

  4. Wasn’t their “your fired” line in a previous season, “see you later, decorator?”

  5. I absolutely hate this show. I feel like they give interior designers such a bad name =\

  6. christakoskosky

    The current “good-bye” tagline is “We cannot live with your design.”

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