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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sour candy

Do you know this woman? No, it's not Ellen DeGeneres. Try Candice Olson, the Canadian design diva, whose show on HGTV is like a decorating trainwreck. I don't want to watch the horrific images searing my brain, but I'm compelled to. "Divine Design" has been a top-rated show on HGTV and Canada's W network since it's debut in 2002, presumably championed by the same demographic that made Oprah's Pretty Boy Berkus middle America's design authority.

Olson, who has never met a shade of aquamarine she didn't like, favors a "soft contemporary" look with vaguely 1930s French references. Her limited repertoire consists of dubious wall decor, oddly-placed accent tables, tiny dangle-y pendants suspended over said tables (how passive-aggressively inflexible), silver leaf, any and all shades of blue, truckloads of TJ Maxx-ish accessories, and cabinetry. Woman loves her some built-ins.

Her clients victims usually have either a living room or basement to do over and are thrilled to let the six-foot Scandinavian chicken loose in their home. Candice always starts with gathering her samples up (girlfriend also loves a sample board), and sketching ideas in heavy black pen (she's got design trainin' y'all), and striking upon the exact same solution for every single project. See favored tricks above. The show progresses with the building crew doing their thing, and then the big reveal where Olson walks the clients victims through what looks like the exact same room from last week's show.

Olson is also the "Design Expert" for Home magazine which this month features an attic converted into an office/screening room for an aspiring film director. I'm not even going to attempt to snark on the photos (they're self-explanatory) other than to wonder why there are decorative vases on top of the popcorn maker.



Article here. Olson's website here. Olson's book here. Olson's Norwalk furniture line here.

14 comments:

erin said...

"Six-foot Scandinavian chicken." ROTFL. I think I see some turds in that room.

karly said...

6 foot scandinavian chicken. ha! (oh shit, i just read erin's comment after i typed that... no kidding).

I have to say that there is nothing wrong with being 6 feet tall, but no chicken blood running through these veins of mine, thank god

I do think C.O. is better than most of the HGTV train wrecks who think hot glue is every decorator's cure all. Don't even get me started on the "abstract art" they usually get the home owners to make. Anyway, I'd never let any of them in my house.

Raina said...

Nope, nothing wrong with being tall. On the the petite side of tall myself at 5'9". And I agree, Olson is the cream of the HGTV crop, but what does that say?

Back to my breakfast of bitter with a side of cranky.

Caroline said...

Yes, her work is all very similar but it's not HORRIBLE, and there's plenty of horrible to go around on HGTV and elsewhere in the design world. I think Candice's look is perfect for all those design challenged folks who love Pottery Barn (that's most of America). If everyone could decorate like David Hicks then Mr. Hicks would be Ms. Olsen.

Raina said...

I figured an Olson fan would pop up here. Thanks for your input, Caroline. All opinions are valued here.

The Nerdy Fashionista said...

Well... I'd still rather her than Vern Yip. I'm more intrigued by her striking resemblance to Ellen DeGeneres in this picture!

Anonymous said...

Well I certainly I am not going to say I always like all interior designers out there, but are any of you yourselves interior designers?

I am highly doubting this or else you would have realized that some of Candice Olson's methods of creating a room are part of the design process that all CERTIFIED designers are accustomed to doing. Her sketches with a "big black pen" are called schematic designs. It is all part of the space planning process. Designers are encouraged to use trash paper, (I'm sure you had no idea that was even the name of the paper she does this sketches on) for the purpose of using a black sharpie in order to keep you from fully drafting a room. It is meant as a quick diagram to lay out the best traffic patterns and furniture arrangements.

She then later goes in with drafting tools and sketches out a scaled elevation drawing that shows up on her website.

So for whether you like her or you don't like her it is of no importance. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But do not simply brush her off as thinking she does not know what she is doing. She knows EXACTLY what she is doing. She is a certified designer and I'm sure sat for the Canadian version of the NCIDQ exam which is the exam that all interior designers take to be certified and are qualified to be using the actual title of 'interior designer'. And even if some of her 'style' looks the same, all interior designers have a certain style that trademarks that room as their design. But as far as using the same colors, that does not mean that she solely picked those colors herself. Usually in the programming stage of the Design Process for a Residential Home that is when you ask those kinds of questions about color, etc. For all you know she always uses blue or whatever you think she does because the client requested that color.

And that's funny you would say her accessories are TJ Maxxish because they definitely are not. She clearly outlines what stores she shops at on her website.

Anonymous said...

Also, if you are going to be giving yourself the title of 'interior designer'... what are your credentials? Are you a certified interior designer? Or do you just rearrange/buy furniture and make a room pretty?

Because if that's the case maybe you need a little Interior Design 101. Someone who just buys furniture and accessories is someone who is a DECORATOR. Someone who has passed qualification, has a degree from an accredited school and has an affiliation with either ASID or IIDA is someone who can give themselves the title INTERIOR DESIGNER.

Get your information straight before you give your self-righteous opinions to someone else when you're not really qualified to give any opinion except as a DECORATOR.

Raina said...

I have a BS in Interior Design (from a program with Council for Interior Design Accreditation) and a BA in Art history as well.

I was a member of ASID for years. I allowed my membership to lapse when I decided ASID was collecting a check and doing not much else.

I started my own design studio at age 26 and have worked with a variety of clients, including some celebrity names that you would recognize.

If you're going to be nasty on this blog, give your name. Don't hide behind "anonymous," Candice.

erin@designcrisis said...

Oh, dear sweet clueless Anon, you just got knocked the fuck out.

karly / design crisis said...

Anon, where is it in Canada that you got your accreditation?

Raina said...

Anony-troll came back with even more nastiness which I deleted.

Anonymous posting has been disabled. If Anony-troll wants to comment further, he or she will have to come out of hiding.

And a note - all of the training and testing and professional memberships in the world do not guarantee talent, merely a certain level of competence. Which was the point of this post.

ModFruGal said...

Holy shit gurl, now I know why you ditched anonymous commenting...tool needs to go back to AT....

my favorite and my best said...

oh my god raina this was beyond awesome. you are so right about so so many things here (everything really). her rooms are so manufactured and cheap looking. and yes, most of america considers this to be what decorating should look like. barf.
but schooling the anon doucher was the best part.
i love when someone can bring it and chang ching it too.
and i am no designer but i could decorate a room like nobody's business.