An Interior Design Showdown

Nothing like a very public design contest to get those competitive juices flowing. For the second year, Bloomingdale's sponsored The Big Window Challenge, a face-off between leaders in the design world whose "dream-dwellings" are displayed in the retailer's flagship storefront windows.

The contest highlights the range of the store's furniture department, Furniture on 5. I suspect that the sight of grass cloth wall covering or painted faux bookcases is not meant only to be eye candy but also incentive to get shoppers in the door and spending again on home furnishings (good luck, Bloomie's).

Jousters this year include Eileen Joyce, the retailer's chief interior designer; Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of; and rounding out the field is Eddie Ross, from design mag Elle Decor.

And the judges were the public - viewers online or passersby. People were able to vote online or by text for their favorite design (Voting ended on January 28 but the windows are on view through January 30).

The rules for this fight club were minimal: use the new three-drawer chest from the store's Hudson Park Loft Collection and then let it all hang out.

And so they did, with considerable dramatic flair:Joyce's Urbane Traveller is a mix of primitive, Asian, folk art and photography with an applique fabric as window treatment - the kind of place a travel magazine editor (are there any of those left?) would feel at home.

Gillingham-Ryan's Writer's Romantic Supper inspires with its bold wallpaper, funky accessories and book piles (as well as those faux bookcases).

Ross' pad is for the Modern Woman (or, more specifically, "a media mogul and mother of two") who would enjoy a spatter-paint print and spending evenings at home entertaining friends and family.

And the winner is...designer drum roll please...

Ross from Elle Decor!

Truth be told, we were rooting for Gillingham-Ryan because of that big Ralph Lauren leather chair, which made the room safe for guys. But Ross snagged 51.2 percent of the vote, followed by Maxwell with 30.5 percent and Joyce with 18.2.

No need to go to the spin room for a post-mortem. You just never know about the electorate these days.
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