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Venerable design mag puts on reality contest

A long line of hopefuls queued up in the morning clutching photos oftheir best work and hoping they’d be picked for a starring role. Thiswasn’t, however, a cattle call for American Idol, Project Runway,Survivor or any other television reality show.

A long line of hopefuls queued up in the morning clutching photos of their best work and hoping they’d be picked for a starring role. This wasn’t, however, a cattle call for American Idol, Project Runway, Survivor or any other television reality show. Instead, the men and women who waited patiently at the Pacific Design Center had a singular goal: A photo spread in an upcoming issue of Architectural Digest.

Think of it as an off-screen reality competition for designers, without the harsh critiques by judges. Each person had photos reviewed by a panel of six of the magazine’s top editors, including longtime editor-in-chief Paige Rense.

“Over the years people have said to me that their work or their friends would be wonderful in the magazine, but they didn’t know anybody there,” Rense said. “So, I thought, OK, this is it, we’ll have open auditions so people could bring pictures of their house or their friend’s house.”

The idea worked. Hundreds of people attended the recent two-day Los Angeles-area open audition, including Janna Levenstein, 36, who came armed with photos of a tony home she designed in the hills above West Hollywood. Levenstein completely revamped the 1950s-era home by adding touches such as a fingerprint entry for people who forget their keys and a stylish entrance from the garage, since that’s how people often enter their homes.

The magazine previously held open auditions in New York and Florida and a fourth one was to be held this week in Houston. “We’ve seen some really good work and found new people,” Rense said. “It’s amazing the number of professionals who have never submitted to the magazine.”

 
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