FBLA EXCLUSIVE: Andrea Keller Parties on Top Design


Andrea Keller, our pal on Bravo’s Top Design, gives us a little more dish about her experiences on the show:

FBLA: Do you read the forums or blogs about the show? People love you or hate you.

AK: I heard from a lot of people that I shouldn’t read them, so that was the idea at first, and then of course I was curious and heard things – so now I read everything everything and so much of it is hilarious and right on. I love the blogs, love the community of it, it’s so wild and interesting to hear what people think and I want to know. I’m not really offended by some of the criticisms/hates because I think there is a lot more to me that isn’t coming across or can’t in this format & time limit. I don’t know, everyone is entitled to their opinion. and I know that not everyone in the world likes everyone else, hello. I have to say that anyone that thinks I could be a cartoon character or a super hero has given me the greatest joy of my life. I love you, come hang out, let’s go on adventures and save the world.

FBLA: Did your team lose because you didn’t have a bouncer? Project Top Design and a reader agree. So does Linda.

AK: We totally missed out on the bouncer–outside people thing–truthfully we were so frantic about building the walls and getting everything painted that we couldn’t even process the idea of entertainment outside of the dj–we tried to make our tent more about design and less just look but maybe that was completely wrong. No no time. I think our plan was solid and we had a lot of interesting pieces, problem is that they weren’t all complete… we were going for a club atmosphere with different areas to hang out in/different visual and sensory experiences.

Pink Navy is all over those sensory experiences with a drinking game.


FBLA: We didn’t know flowers came in furry.

AK: Ok so the flowers. I actually did 3 types of arrangements, or maybe I should say I did one type of arrangement, one sort of cluster thing and then for the third I threw flowers in trays (that needed foam I didn’t have) in 5 minutes. I really wanted to reinvent that, do something else, tie the flowers, find another container. But I did’t and they hated it so much. I think I’m a little more open minded than they are about how weird flower arrangements can be and how that can potentially be delightful, but if a florist made those arrangements I probably wouldn’t call them again. I admit it. You should have seen the ones by the benches, they were really lovely. And I love flowers so much.

AK: This was so flipping hard. At this point I started living on G-star energy drinks and M&Ms and I focused all my effort on just moving forward, doing the work, trying to smile and be kind and be a normal person. I didn’t want to lose myself. And fundamentally I’m a nice person but you need to stand your ground and move forward and try not to sink so it gets a little less pretty.

FBLA: We never thought of Goil as Jan Brady until he mentioned it. But now we can’t get that image out of our mind.

Top Design Wiki has the moment.

AK: Having just been a team leader I didn’t want to lead anything this time, really wanted to step back and just pitch in. The Goil–chandelier situation was such a crazy misunderstanding, it just ramped up once it had started and there was no going back. Goil described something to us, and it’s sort of like pictionary, one person talks and everyone has a different picture in their mind, so Erik and I were in the boat of “we don’t know exactly what you are talking about but we love it”, and we tried to draw it and execute, making the pieces the central feature of the design. Problem was, what he was describing looked nothing like what we were trying to draw, I thought I was diligently and superbly building Goil’s idea for him, while he thought we were running with our own ideas and ditching his. I didn’t care at all about what we were building, as long as we had consensus and the proportions were consistent and aesthetically pleasing / we could actually build the pieces during the timeframe. Which is a lot to worry about…so then we launch into building, and as issues came up we voted among the three of us, and Erik and I opted for quick fix a lot and we ended up with the great divide. Normally I don’t think we would have that divide at all.


FBLA: But you’re all pals, right?

AK: I love Goil, he is brilliant and delightful, and I’m not just saying this, he is totally unique and the freshest breath of air.. I was so excited to work with him, and just given the time pressure, fatigue, criticism etc. and how the cards fell it didn’t come out amazing like we both thought it could. I would never ever want to cause him even a moment of discomfort, only happiness and a great exchange of ideas. Happy news is that after party was over and we got some sleep, we could smile and move on / find ground again – we are great pals always and hopefully forever, he’s one in 5 billion, the best. And next time I’ll make him give me a picture of what he wants.

FBLA: Were you worried about going home?
AK: You know, I didn’t ever let myself think about going home, because the pressure was so crazy already, and it seemed to me that spinning out about it would be idle and useless since the decision wasn’t in our hands. If something’s in my court I try to control and manage it, if it’s really not in my court I just watch, do what I can…of course you try to portray the situation in best light, defend work, sell it..and then we go into the other room, they make their decision and that’s it.

FBLA: Do Kelly and Margaret hate each other?

AK: I don’t think they hate each other; they are both really strong fierce women taking these things apart. Actually to tell the truth I have no idea if they do hate each other, we had such limited contact. Either they went backstage and gave each other high-fives, or they just dropped the whole deal and moved on, or maybe they were mildly or hugely seething but no way for us to know.

In architecture school during the public juries you can have hideously ugly exchanges about theory or design, then you walk out and are friends again, it all is academic and stays in the room, move on to laugh and cocktails. Are other people like that? I have no idea, I tried to be though, keep the work the work.

FBLA isn’t like that. We hold a grudge.

AK: I actually liked that they didn’t agree on everything, it was refreshing – also selfishly I was glad they weren’t all a unified front because I was an outsider as one of the architects, wanted things to be diverse and open as possible.

Blogging Top Design appreciates the, uh, diversity of Kelly’s wardrobe.

AK: Also I couldn’t really appreciate any of their conversations while I was in there (exhausted filthy covered with paint in heels), but now I love watching them go back and forth so much, I could watch it for hours. They’re both super smart and on the ball, for that they have my respect.

FBLA can’t imagine watching them for hours.

FBLA: How sequestered were you guys during the whole thing–you can’t go get haircuts or anything, right?

AK: We could not walk a foot on our own… so yes, no outside world ever, for a million reasons of confidentiality and unfair advantage, running into people we might know.. completely sequestered. Each of us had brought things so we shared a lot, trading mint julep face mask for eye cream, giving little haircuts. That part was kind of ridiculous and fun. We all probably flipped out when we finally got home and realized that we could go to the store if we wanted to. Never quite see the world the same way again.

FBLA EXCLUSIVE: Andrea Keller Parks Top Design