Sometimes, You Have to Let Go: Interior Design Masters, Ep 6

Only four people are left in the competition, and the designers are getting antsy. The prize is in site. All the designers want to make it to the semi-final.

The Challenge: For this challenge, the designers head to Bristol to redesign two neighborhood restaurants. The contestants are split into teams two teams: Nikki and Frank, and Cassie and Ju (Thank you producers for not putting Frank and Cassie together again). In the judging, Michelle and the guest judge would be looking for clever, practical design, and how each restaurant works in practice. In this case, usability is fundamental, not just the look of the space. This time around, the designers get to meet their clients and see the space before finalizing the design. They have two days for the challenge. Let’s see how they did.

The Work: Nikki and Frank jump off the episode with their given space and clients: a southern Mediterranean restaurant. They decide on a contemporary take on the style southern Mediterranean with paneled black and white flooring as the standout. Seating is important for the client, so including banquette seating is also a part of Nicki and Frank’s plan. Cassie and Ju were assigned a Tapas restaurant, and the client requested an open and welcoming space. He also wants to include foliage in the space. Cassie and Ju decide to focus on Spanish influences with terra-cotta, finished walls.

Ju recognized the challenge in combining her style with Cassie’s, and that difference led to immediate friction between the tow ladies (Looks like Frank isn’t the only one who battles it out with Cassie). Their client asked for plants in the restaurant, but Cassie is fighting putting them in, even though the client basically vetoed her objection. Michelle just pops up in the back of the mind, “it’s about the client.” Yet, even though the two ladies were butting heads, they were still making headway in their project. They’ve even decided to freshen up the exterior of the restaurant to match with the interior.

Nicki continued to work on scaling back her ideas, opting to purchase some pieces instead of creating them. When she saw that Ju and Cassie had redone the outside, Nicki convened with Frank to see if they needed to do the same thing. In the end, they decided to keep focus on their original design. Frank and Nicki have employed some strong colors and the floor starts to go in, but, I don’t know if they all fit together and “southern Mediterranean”. Nikki continued with the design, wanting to install a feature wall, but Frank isn’t on board with the idea. And so, Frank and Nicki begin to enter their own realm of friction that’s only emboldened by Nicki’s budget decisions and the toll it’s taking on Frank and the overall design. the two begin their back and forth about the idea. It’s down to final four though so everyone wants to make sure they all have the best designs possible.

To be fair, I think the level of tension from both teams was a result of all of them being in the final four and knowing the goal wasn’t far away. They all worked hard to include things that are related to their individual styles. Cassie created a mosaic feature around the bar area. Ju put together seating and added more of the front area final touches. Nikki installed various lighting solutions. Frank employed his now-signature lino. At the last minute, Nikki and Frank decided to touch up the exterior with paint they had left over. They all gave it everything they had.

Photo courtesy of Blooming Home Society

The Walkthrough: The guest judge for this week is Thomasina Miers, an English cook with 25 restaurants. She’s looking for the magic in a restaurant. For Thomasina, the interior needs to relate to the menu, and create a full experience for the customer. Cassie and Ju are up first, and the restaurant looks really good all finished. Immediately, Michelle and Thomasina recognize the update to the exterior, and love it. They both appreciated the balance in the space and the sunny and warm atmosphere. The mosaic was also a nice, fun touch. The space and seating increased, but did it hold up to service?

Nikki and Frank were next, and unfortunately the judges were underwhelmed by the outside. For them, it would’ve been better to leave it as is than to only do a part. Inside, they appreciated the sophisticated design, with the use of banquettes and bold colors. What gave the two women pause was overall cohesiveness of the design. It didn’t speak to the type of restaurant it was, and it the lighting was harsh. Before the final segment, the judges visit each restaurant to see the redesign in action and how the clients felt about the new space. Both clients were happy with the end results of their respective spaces, but it was Cassie and Ju’s client who was able to work with the design and make it comfortable for usage, even with some of the tightness in the dining area.

The Judging: Ooo, everyone is feeling the pressure, and it could go either way. At the table, they find out that Cassie and Ju were the most successful in their design. Their attention to the front of the restaurant helped push things in their favor. So to the sofa Frank and Nicki go, and Michelle kicks it off with attempting to understand why they forgot the exterior. For most of this, Nicki took the lead in explaining the design. They didn’t do the outside because it wasn’t in the brief, but that wasn’t enough for the judges. Cassie and Ju got the same instruction and considered the outside. So the need was there. They just didn’t consider things outside of the immediate need. The judges also asked about the choice of the wire chairs. Turns out, the chairs were meant to have cushions, but they were cut from the project because they’d stretched the budget on lighting. Frank spoke up slightly when it came to the budget and revealed that a lot of his ideas were vetoed out.

In a new move, Michelle actually needed more time to decide! Frankly, (ha!) she felt they both fell short and the information they gave during critique put both contestants in a position where they could both be cut. She asked the designers to step away so she consider her options before making the final decision. In the aside, she spoke with Fearn about the options before her. Frank was more of a team player during the process, but went too far into his shell, making it so he didn’t stand up for himself. Nikki has strong opinions and stylings, but she forced those things through onto the project without considering other lines of thought. When the contestants came back, they both expressed their sincere desire to stay. In the end, Michelle gave her final verdict. You’ve got to be able to start off with a strong style, but have the ability to let it go in service to the customer. Because of that, Nicki is let go.

Here’s what it came down to: Nicki holds a lot of creativity, but she imposed what she felt was her signature style, and it didn’t answer the brief. The reason Frank was saved was because Michelle sensed a desire to learn and growth from him. Time will tell how will play out. As always, like and comment, and don’t forget to follow to get notified of when the next post drops. Talk to you soon!

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