De­sign­ers on the air


NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - By Meaghan Clark

It’s the sea­son when the net­works bring out their new se­ries, but in the de­sign show cat­e­gory, sadly, there’s lit­tle to get ex­cited about. Most new pro­grams fol­low a proven for­mula, and while they’ll be blessed with a built-in au­di­ence, they won’t break any ground or cap­ture new view­ers. Hire a fresh host, fol­low a well-known designer around as she not only makes over an old space but also now picks up her laun­dry, sips her cof­fee, pla­cates her dis­grun­tled staff, yada, yada, yada. Re­al­ity show view­ers are fickle folk; they bore eas­ily, so the net­works should think about in­no­vat­ing. Of course, some clas­sics shouldn’t be tam­pered with, and some duds should never have seen the light of day. Here’s a break­down of new shows, the best of the old ones and those that ought to go. New: Designer Guys The new hosts all have se­ri­ous ar­chi­tec­tural back­grounds and, in ad­di­tion to more de­sign chops and fewer hel­met hair­dos, they’ll ex­pand their ter­ri­tory be­yond Rosedale man­sions and down­town lofts. One of the first episodes is a stylish pent­house suite in the Cos­mopoli­tan Ho­tel. There’s more of a mix of com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial spa­ces. If the hosts aren’t as com­fort­able in front of the cam­era, let’s chalk it up to in­ex­pe­ri­ence for now. New: Home To Stay As Home To Go’s Peter Fal­lico’s pop­u­lar­ity grows, he and his au­di­ence are mov­ing on to the sub­ject of first-time homes. He still brings smart, af­ford­able so­lu­tions to de­sign dilem­mas for av­er­age folks, but now the fo­cus is on more per­ma­nent changes, broad­en­ing his scope and al­low­ing Fal­lico and his de­sign­ers to flex their mus­cles. Could we have new mu­sic? New: Martha Live Post-pri­son, Martha Ste­wart’s loos­ened up and ac­quired a sense of hu­mour. The host­ess with the mostest is de­but­ing an off-the-cuff show. Come on! Nor­mally, I’d take less uptight any day, but this is one ex­pert who I’d pre­fer kept run­ning a tight ship. Many oth­ers de­liver near-per­fec­tion; pure per­fec­tion is about as rare as Ste­wart’s Beef Welling­ton. Here To Stay: The Block Touted as a sexy, tough de­sign/re­al­ity show/con­test, it fea­tures four Aussie cou­ples vy­ing to com­plete a ren­o­va­tion with time, bud­get and de­sign con­straints. The win­ners, of course, are the pair who’d make the big­gest profit on the sale of their unit. Tons of in­ter­est­ing, wacky di­gres­sions make for great TV. Okay, it seems a tad un­re­al­is­tic that all th­ese regular home­own­ers could be so good-look­ing, but it sure beats all those mom jeans we’ve come to ex­pect on other shows. Here To Stay: Holmes On Homes This is HGTV’s num­ber-one show, a mod­ern­day fairy tale. Peo­ple love dis­tress, vin­di­ca­tion and happy end­ings. What else can I say? Here To Stay: My Par­ents House This has built-in ther­a­peu­tic value along with fun. All those night­mares about your par­ents’ house can be erad­i­cated in a sin­gle show. The draw isn’t just the great re­design, but also the head­scratch­ing rooms the pro­duc­ers find. Throw in a feel-good good deed and you’ve got a hit. Ought To Go: The Dec­o­rat­ing Chal­lenge The pro­duc­ers must have in­ven­to­ried ev­ery cliché about Cana­di­ans (soft-spo­ken, re­served, an­noy­ingly agree­able, chip­per, eh?) and used the list to cast th­ese home­own­ers. Did we men­tion that the de­signs usu­ally in­cor­po­rate crafts? If I want craft­ing I’ll try the new Craft Cor­ner Death­match. I’m riv­eted only be­cause I can’t be­lieve this is still on TV.

Ought To Go: Love It Or Lose It There’s camp, and then there’s this show. I’ve yet to see one designer I’d trust with a pack of crayons or one room I’d spend the night in. Where do they find th­ese peo­ple? Th­ese guys and gals make Frank from Trad­ing Spa­ces look like a modernist won­der. There’s some­thing about the host that gives me the shiv­ers in a Step­ford Wives kind of way. Ought To Go: Real Renos I’ve never fig­ured out what this show or its host, Jim Caruk, is about. There are lots of shots of his truck and his tem­per, but I’ve never seen a com­pleted ren­o­va­tion. Why watch when there are plenty of reno shows with a be­gin­ning, mid­dle and end?

En­joy the new fall sea­son! I’ll hap­pily re­spond to com­ments, sug­ges­tions or beefs about my picks. Please send them along to toron­to­liv­

Meaghan Clark is a Toronto-based free­lance writer who writes about de­sign and re­tail ini­tia­tives and spends far too much time re­search­ing Euro­pean shel­ter mag­a­zines.

Heav­enly high­rise at the Cos­mopoli­tan Ho­tel cour­tesy of The Designer Guys.

Com­fort, style and luxury in a sig­na­ture suite.

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