Well hello all!
OK, so it has taken me a while to chat up the finale of the show. To be honest I was a bit taken back by the fact that two very important episodes did not air and the finale arrived early. I had so many things in the works including a finale party that just didn’t get to happen:-( I have been busy working and going to school and trying to make something of my 15 minutes of fame. I am not giving up!!!! There is something big for me, I just feel it! I pray!
You may have noticed that in the finale that you heard a lot of, “We can’t let Mark win again!”, “Mark keeps winning everything!” and “The golden child Mark…” You may have also seen a small reference to my Staples Center win that never aired. It is all true! What you did not see is that yes I (or my teams) did win everything. I am holding out hope that the two episodes will air in time and all the details can be made public. There is a clear reason why I was named top of the class! Even without those episodes I am proud of how my work and I appeared. I was very lucky to have had the team I did going into the finale and it paid off for sure!
It was amazing to have the opportunity to be mentored by Michael Berman and to explore the mid-century architecture and design of Palm Springs. We were given the challenge of creating a conceptual design for a classic mid-century property in downtown Palm Springs called The Chase Hotel. The Chase a sight for sure! This poor little hotel had seen better days. To be honest I felt like I had just stepped onto the old set of Golden Girls. The pink knock down plaster walls, the arched doorways, and the tropical textiles on the white washed furniture were such an eye sore. Where to even begin???!
Well, to my surprise they chose to begin by assigning myself and Gianna as team leaders. Go figure they would make us compete against each other again. I was fine with it but I think Gianna felt like she had something to prove. She was not going to have me or my team win one more time…or so she thought. As you all know, Gianna has no problem letting everyone know how she feels. Trust me it got old hearing all the sarcasm about me or my designs but the fact is I did not play into all that drama. I was focused on the task at hand as I did from the start.
Imagine! Gianna, with the win of the coin toss, picks Chris again! Really??? Was Gianna going to ride on the back of Chris’s 3D skills again? Maybe she thought the third time was going to be the charm? With that decision, the cards fell as they did before and we ended up with the exact same teams that we had when we competed for the LAAC rooftop. That was fine with me considering we won! Now Gianna’s team really had something to prove.
We moved forward as we did before. Our team set forward into creating a strong space plan and the other team set forward into arguing over a direction… We apparently had an advantage because we offered up the idea of moving the front desk out into the lobby and the hotel owners loved it. We knew that the other team had not considered it and that was going to work into our favor as long as we had a strong plan and concept.
I may have had the same team as I did for the LAAC rooftop but this time it was definitely going to play out different because I was in charge. We knew from previous experience that we could not rely on Marcia to get the CAD work done in a timely manner and we also knew we didn’t have the time to waste listening to her critique our ideas again while offering up nothing. So that is where I came up with my plan of action! I did not want to offend Marcia nor did I want her to feel like she was being pushed aside but the reality was I knew that Paul, Olivia and I would be far more productive if she was out of the equation… even though the three of us had to go to and from work while knocking this design out.. and Marcia was fully available.
The plan: I created a logo for Marcia to work with. I had her manipulate it and use it to create a letter head and a business card. I also provided her with an image of the hotel so we could create a sort of welcome card with a souvenir post card attached. My thought behind this was that we would be able to offer the hotel a new branding package to move forward with after the success of our renovation. If she got it done it was extra credit but if she didn’t then no loss on our part! Let’s just say it barely got done!
Let me set the scene…OK so Marcia has the one task to work on and the three of us have the whole design project to complete. Here is one example of what we dealt with. Paul and I continue working on all of the renderings while Olivia hits her shift at the bar and Marcia finishes the logo. Paul and I send Marcia to print at Kinkos at approx. 2am and she vanishes for 5 hours only to return with NOTHING! She claimed there was some sort of format issue and she needed to fix it??? Could she not figure it out in her 5 hours at Kinkos? What was she doing? Then instead of working it out she decided to crawl into bed and sleep until noon!!!!! Where on the other hand, my little trooper Olivia who had worked on this project all day before heading to work, returned around three AM still in false lashes… sat herself right back down and went directly to work and never stopped until well after sunrise! This is what the team dynamic was and why I had to take the direction I did.
That all said, we pulled off a great concept and hit Palm Springs ready to steal the show! We rolled into town exhausted with presentation boards still drying. It was a terrible rainy morning and the drive was torcher. To our surprise we arrived only to be rushed directly into presenting to the hotel owners…no chance to capture our thoughts. And once again my team was required to go first. We stepped to the plate and gave another seamless and well thought out presentation that clearly pleased the hotel owners. Our branding package was a clear bonus that set the bar high! Now Gianna’s team not only had the time to watch our presentation they were also given a whole lunch break to think things over before presenting…really? How fare was that?
Fast forward and after seeing what seemed to be a replay of their LAAC presentation it was clear that Gianna’s team took the exact same approach again. It was all about Chris’s wonderful 3D skills. What did the others do while Chris did all the work??? Long story short it did not bode well for them. The hotel owner decided that if they had to choose they would choose my team but in this case they didn’t have to choose and they wanted us to all work together… They wanted to incorporate a couple of the other team’s elements…WTF?! I was then made project manager over everyone. For good or bad I was now in charge.
I did my best to keep a clear plan and also give my other classmates a chance to pair up with people they have not had the chance to work with before. This was our last chance to all come together. A very long story short, we had a ridiculous short time frame to shop consignment stores in hope of finding furniture pieces that would work and pull off this renovation. Against all odds and having a not totally motivated team…we did it! The renovation was beautiful! The hotel owners were brought to tears and we all came together as one in the end.
I walk away from this experience as more than just the top of the class and the winner of every instillation. I walk away from the Superlab as a better designer. I walk away a better team player. I am proud to say I walk away feeling like I represented myself well and offered the best work I could. I did my best to stay out of the drama and at no point needed to talk crap on camera about others to make myself feel better… It was amazing to have the opportunity to work with such dedicated and hardworking people. I will cherish the relationships I have built through this crazy experience.
Designed with love,