Design Star Small Space Challenge – Yerts!

OK, enough with the Yurt jokes – there are 8,000 bloggers rushing to their keyboards to poke fun at this eco-pod’s product name, so let’s cut to the heart of it – what’s a Yurt (besides a sill name)?

A Pacific Yurt – image via HGTV

The Pacific Yurt is a modern adaptation of an ancient shelter used by Central Asian nomads. The compact shape of the yurt and combination of lightweight members in tension and compression function to create structure that is highly efficient in maximizing strength while minimizing the use of materials. The Yurt is a lightweight, low-cost, state-of-the-art version that retains the sense of wholeness of the ancient form while maintaining their structural integrity, longevity and low maintenance demanded by modern users. Though generally classified as a tent, the yurt is much stronger and weather-tight. The Pacific Yurt is a circular structure that consists of a durable fabric cover, tension band and a wood frame that includes a lattice wall, radial rafters, central compression ring and a framed door.

OK…………now to the sweet design center. Let’s have a look at the different renditions.

The final three Design Star contestants were charged with creating a dream-bedroom within the confines of their Yurt.

I love the small space challenge! It’s parallel in nature to the perimeters of the white room challenge, and brings a typical facsimile of a final project of a Residential Interiors 200 level class. Skipping to the final project leaves a great deal of dry foundational materials and concept that is packed into the end result, but it is always fun to watch designers put the task of spinning straw into gold – limitations are the foundation of all genius!

Danielle’s theme was Global Contemporary; an eclectic traveled look that draws on elements with a cultural flavor that assembled and mixed with modern lines, create a collected world-traveler impression.

She failed to give her contractor a detailed enough description of her focal custom-built bed, in the heat of over-coming her achilles heal throughout the challenge; time management. This became a self-imposed secondary challenge that she met as best she could, while compensating with what has been a consistent good and fabulous ability to envision.

Brittany’s Bed – image from HGTV

This is a more exacting competition than most people can even imagine – Danielle went through the process of elimination that all designers go through at fast-forward, and excelled in presenting a room that invited in the outdoors, emulated a collected world traveler vibe, and was a sumptuous palette of texture and mineral hues, which unfortunately might not be showing on television the way it would in person – on TV it seems dark and masculine, in contrast to the judges’ glowing descriptions.


Of the three results, Danielle’s was not my favorite, yet I would characterize her as the person who has most grown with the challenge.

Brittany’s Yurt

Brittany stepped away from what in past seasons Vern Yip has referred to as “a one trick pony show”, or more precisely her comfort zone with the Hollywood Regency style – to create a “beachy” escape room.

Of all three contestants, Brittany alone addressed the obvious issue of storage, using the back of her super-cool rotating modular bed as a closet with space for folded and hanging clothing. Her design, pillows, color palette and etherial choice and scale of pendant were fabulous!

But the camera challenge has eliminated more than one solid designer in this competition. When I looked at the portfolios, I felt strongly that Brittany was best qualified and seems to fit that HGTV female mold. But even with some subtle prompting from her experienced and camera savvy contractor, Brittany was too unnerved to take the initiative to engage in a connected dialogue. We will see…

Everyone seems perplexed about about Hillary’s elimination. Her Yert Bali Inspired – tropical fantasy bedroom was outstanding, despite the nit-picking critique of dead space on either side of the focal bed.

Hillary’s Yurt – image via HGTV

Her choice of an “Asian Daybed” or more properly if less politically correct termed, opium bed was fortuitous genius and her color palette sparkled.

Hillary’s Yurt design – image via HGTV

Her silk draping, and gold-leafed shelving display were spot-on – and those slipper chairs could not have been adorned with better accent pillows – those KoKo pillows on the opium bed were also fabulous!

I personally think that they have looked at the vote as to whom should get a web show, and that we will see her again. She was weak in convey information amidst that effervescent personality, and it will be easier to create a meaningful blend in a more scripted, less ad-hock setting.

So who will win? My money is on Danielle, despite Brittany’s fabulous results – but don’t hedge your bets – next Tuesday we can compare notes about the new Design Star!