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Andrea Keller And Top Design–NBC Made Us Late

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FBLA is late with our Andrea Keller: Top Design insights, but we have a good excuse. NBC asked to check out her responses first and took their own sweet time about it. Make of that what you will. Hmmm. So, read on for the Chef’s Table challenge, and we promise to speed things up.
Blogging Top Design is all up-to-date. So is Pink Navy. So is Top Design Blogger.

Anyway, Andrea won the challenge, but hasn’t gotten the prize yet–$2500 to spend at Jonathan Adler. FBLA can’t help but wonder if that’s trade or retail.

FBLA: Did anyone know that you had all these restaurant world connections (wine, teaching at Otis), etc?

AK: I don’t think so–they knew that I teach at Otis but not that it was restaurant design. Both of my brothers are in the food industry and live near Napa valley, one is a winemaker and the other is a distributor of organic meat products/ranch consultant. When Todd was describing a cuisine based on the finest quality ingredients, my thoughts immediately went to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and Thomas Keller at the French Laundry (sadly no relation). That’s how I started on the image of stone walls, thinking of a California vineyard and the food culture of northern california. To incorporate arts and crafts I wanted to emphasize joinery in the woodwork, and I found some William Morris-style textiles with a leafy pattern.


FBLA: When did they shoot that to-camera interview where you size up the competition?

AK: I don’t remember exactly when they shot the interviews–they would typically take us aside each day, sometimes twice, to ask question. I think I was about 3/4 of the way through the first day, and I was obviously feeling like we were kicking butt so I was kind of cocky and in a great mood. usually I try to be a little more demure and deferential, but I had gotten the domination feeling and I love it. I am unreasonably competitive and I love winning so so much, maybe not the most attractive thing, but I really do it with a sense of humor and perspective, I am (hopefully) not hideous about it. My mom always told me that I was a bad winner because I would be so damn happy and wouldn’t hide it at all. I am never mean though.

(FBLA hates it when friends get all Pollyanna on us, but she’s right–she’s never mean. Bitch.)

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FBLA: Were you pretty confident all the way on this?

AK: I was very confident during this one. I was relieved to be doing an individual challenge, and there was so much I wanted to show people–I really wanted to do a beautiful room, plus I lucked out because restaurants are my thing. I also really love design that is futuristic/way out there, but that was not the assignment, and this really needed to be earthy and as luxurious as possible. I also love warm gray and beige, and was trying to make a room that used those colors but was warm. I had mixed those colors with blue before and it didn’t work out so well, certainly not good for Jonathan Adler! Architectural history is my thing, I love it–so to hear reference to different styles really helped me, I felt that I had a sense of what this person might be looking for and I tried to build to that.

FBLA: How much of the money did you spend?

I spent almost all of it–the rug was a vegetable-dyed handmade piece from Tibet. I think that piece alone was about $10,000. my other two big spends were obviously the table and chair set and the side table, which was hand-made out of extraordinary wood. In my last moments I ran around the Baker showroom shopping for accessories, trying to use up the rest of the budget, give myself some options. I think we used everything! By “we” I mean myself and my carpenter Blair aka “tall guy”. He was unbelievably talented, was funny as hell and spent the entire time doing Borat impressions, and last but not least he can reach the top of an 8″ wall without a ladder.

FBLA: Don’t you wish you had done leather floors?

AK: Floors are such a huge part of any design, and Matt was really working on that aspect. I made an executive decision to obsess about wall-things and knew that I wouldn’t have time to get a floor down. Every hour was planned out, and even so, there were a couple of things we didn’t finish. We knew the stone and the suede on the walls were our thing for this challenge, tried to keep people looking up and never down! But yes, leather floors could be something else, how decadent. I see it as more of a library/study type thing, also doesn’t work for the animal lovers among us, but they do have fake leather now that is just like calfskin, beautiful. If you’re using real leather just don’t tell Todd Oldham.

FBLA: How weird to put you guys on the spot about each other’s room?
(Top Design Blogger agrees.)

AK: I didn’t think it was weird to ask us about each others’ rooms because I didn’t take it as a personal thing at all–we all have opinions of each others’ work and very different taste, should be free to talk about it in front of each other. I never had a problem with critiquing work, but it was uncomfortable to talk about people’s performance, as we did for the garage challenge and the party tent. Once it is personal it hurts and I never wanted to cross that line.

FBLA has no idea who wins, but we want Andrea.

And check out Reality on Bravo.

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