The Eye of the Fish

September 7, 2018

The Block

I’m rooting for the boys. The boys on the Block that is – yes, one of those terrible reality TV shows, heavily sponsored by the companies they repeatedly promote. This year it’s in Hobsonville (it’s always in Auckland, of course, where property renovation and house ‘flipping’ has become the main religion). This year, also, it has a pair of highly irritating people from Gisborne, a hopeless young couple from Hamilton, the two cutest but slightly dim young women, and finally a team of two young men. “The Boys” as the program likes to call them.
The Boys, heart-throbs Tom and Ben, are coming last in the competition, largely because the judges keep rating their efforts as poor. Their projects are often incomplete each week, as they seem to prefer doing each room slowly and carefully, rather than rip-shit and slap-dash, as some other teams might.
Tom is, apparently, a project manager, although you wouldn’t think he knew how to manage a project from looking at their results. Ben, an architectural graduate from Victoria’s School of Architecture, is playing the long game. As time goes on, it is apparent that he has a masterplan vision for the house. One of light and space and clean classic lines, rather than the camp colorful creations full of cushions and knick-knacks that the interior designer judges repeatedly prefer.
Bens nosejob
Ben’s design responses are classically architectural rather than those of an interior designer. When presented with the staircase and landing challenge, while some of the other teams made the landing into a play space, Ben decided on the classic Miesian response of “Less is More” and deleted the excess landing altogether, preferring instead to enjoy the creation of ‘space’ – the triumph of nothing over something. Jason the judge rated that response as terrible, yet it was the move of a gutsy architect, not that of a color by numbers childish follower of fashion.
When presented with another challenge, the master bedroom and ensuite, the boys responded the same way: removing the waste of space that is a walk-in wardrobe, and instead creating extra visual space by positioning 2 standard wardrobes with mirrored doors, gaining both real space on the bedroom floor and the visual appearance of even more space via the reflections. Again – the judges hated this – but it is the response of a strong and confident architect rather than the one trick pony world of a ‘designery’ response. The ensuite was similarly disliked by the judges, with Ben going for the simplicity and beauty of a wall of natural stone tiles, rather than a colorful but easily dated mosaic on the floor.
This Sunday, it all comes together at last with the unveiling of the kitchen, where Ben hopes that the creation of space and light and texture will triumph over the world of cushions and color-blocking. I’m rooting for him too, for even if Ben isn’t that speedy, I’m a believer that slow and thoughtful wins the race. That space and light are the true marks of good design, not having lurid fashion tastes and a love for too many cushions and gee-gaws. That the design response of a kitchen that has a natural timber theme running through the ceiling will better that of others who may think a lick of brightly colored paint on a layer of Gib plasterboard is all you need.
So: I’m rooting for the boys – for Ben – for space and light – for Architecture, with a capital A. I’m hoping that they win the kitchen reveal this Sunday, as well as that when it comes to the Sale day, some Auckland family will recognize the classic design response of an architect has more worth than the cruddy response of a team who believes that creating a windowless bedroom is a good idea. That Team Gizzy, currently winning by styling of cushions and hanging shit on the wall, goes down at the finish line, losing out to quality Architecture.

7 - 09 - 18

Not sure how to get a message of support to the boys – so if anyone knows how to, please let them know…

7 - 09 - 18

I can’t really help, or even sympathise, because I cannot bring myself to watch The Block.

It’s not entirely a Mark Richardson thing. I still have little residues of positivity about him from the engaging, cricket-playing version of his brand where he actually was an underdog and a battler. The few early Blocks I watched were so deeply ingrained with the shonky, mdf and paint effects ethos of early Changing Rooms (remember Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s cuffs?) that I jumped channels never to return. Are they still stencilling things?.

7 - 09 - 18

I was like that on all the previous years – I guess I started watching this year because a news report said that there was an architectural grad – ie possibly someone who actually knew what he or she was doing. As it turns out, Ben is a grad from Vic, and doing really well, and not really keen on all the silly bullshit games that Richardson encourages. No sign at all of stencils so far……

9 - 09 - 18

Starkive – have you read this article yet?

“Mark Richardson the cricketer was an Auckland and Otago off-spin bowler who lost the knack so badly that in 1992 he had the second-worst bowling average in New Zealand provincial cricket. Famously, he went away and reinvented himself as a dour opening bat who accumulated enough runs to force himself into the New Zealand test team at the age of 29.

We can deduce from that, he says, that he was driven, willing to find whatever way he could to achieve what he wanted. His dad had played cricket for Hawke’s Bay; being a Black Cap was “the driving force of my life”. In a North & South profile from his playing days, he says “everything I’ve achieved I’ve worked really hard at”.

A former cricket colleague, asked for a description of Richardson in those days, opts for “intense, nervous, paranoid”. Yes, that’s fair, says Richardson unflinchingly. He never actually enjoyed playing cricket, he explains; instead, he fixated on all the ways he might fail.”

10 - 09 - 18

And have you read this?

10 - 09 - 18

All signs pointing to a big architectural win

16 - 09 - 18

Why are they all wearing identical boots?

16 - 09 - 18

Sponsorship Lindsay, its all about sponsorship…. keep them dollars rolling in.