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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Help me to understand

Buckle up, Dumplings, I am about to go on an epic rant...

Why in the Sam Hell does anyone hire Rita Konig to do any damn thing?!?! Whether it's interior design or writing about interior design, the woman fails miserably.

Case in point - her opening paragraph describing decorator Todd Romano's office, pictured above:

The room was a spare box before Mr. Romano installed the art, books, toys and mementos that bring it to life. A thoughtful layering of antiques and quirky objects gives the room a welcoming feel and imbues it with a good-natured sense of fun.

Are you effin' kidding me?! Students in a freshman creative writing class could pen circles around that dreck.

Konig has recently re-joined her old Domino boss, Deborah Needleman, who is the new editor of WSJ. The Wall Street Journal is attempting to turn their bi-monthly magazine into a lifestyle powerhouse that can run head-to-head with the big boys - W, Town & Country and the like. Previously, Konig was writing semi-regularly for a New York Times blog. Most posts were about her own apartment accompanied by poorly-lit amateurly-styled photos:

A client's office with half-empty bookshelves.

Konig's own apartment.

Konig's own apartment.

A client's bath.

The same bath - keep in mind, this is the "after."

A client's porch with an awkwardly-balanced plant.

The entry in Konig's former apartment.
Cute paper. Awful styling.

Konig's design work is on par with hobbyist decorator. Someone who has an eye for color but little sense for pattern layering or how objects relate to each other.

So how does Konig keep landing design clients and writing jobs? Beats me. I would say perhaps she has a sparkling personality, but I recently received a shrill email from Konig. She had no issue with my critiques of her work. Rather, she demanded to know why I kept linking her employability to her mother, the famous British interior designer Nina Campbell. Konig wrote emphatically that she scrubs any and all references to Campbell from bios, press releases and such. Which is hilarious because she has repeatedly referred to her mother's work in blog posts.

So I'm left to think Konig must be a superfun party guest and possibly an expert blackmailer. Dumplings, what are your thoughts?

Thanks to Alcira of The Nero Chronicles for leading me to Konig's most recent article!


david john said...

raina, i love that she wrote to you.....

maybe i should interview you both on my blog, head to head!

or maybe you should interview her on your site? give her a chance to talk about design, and what it matters to her and her clients. i would be so interested to read this.


Keri Batchelder Hoffman said...

I can't decorate my way out of a box but I'm pretty sure I could do better than that bathroom. I agree with David, would love to read your interview with her :)

my favorite and my best said...

alas, i love her.

Alexis L., The Studioist said...

Wow, Raina. You must have struck quite the chord to elicit a response from Konig. Bravo.

Not being in the business and not having a trained eye, I have a greater tolerance than do you for a lot of shortcomings. The photos you point to are mostly okay with me but I make a lot of allowances and I don't actually disagree with anything you pointed out. As to the essence of her cachet.....Whatever Ms. Konig's talents or deficits her mother's name of course is a substantial part of her appeal. I'll give Konig the benefit of the doubt and suggest that perhaps she isn't aware of how often she mentions her mum in interviews but she certainly has benefited greatly from the association.

I have a perhaps even more provocative question: When did we canonize domino? Why is it that every mention of Needleman et al elicits uncritical squeals of joy from every corner of the design blogosphere? Domino had some *serious* deficits of vision and I know that certainly by a disastrous 'Green Issue' a lot of people were ready to hit 'cancel' on their subscriptions, including me...

And then they went out of business and the historical revisionism began.

I don't mean to kick a headstone or anything but at this point, I think being any sort of former domino staffer will get you a gig. I think I will add that to my resume: Domino Magazine, Subscriber.

Back Garage said...

Raina, thank God for you. You're the only one throwing a fork in it constantly. Those photos were HORRAWFUL.

David said...

My thoughts, in photo order:

1. Todd forgot we were coming, that's why he didn't pick up the office.
2. Day two of estate sales are always sort of sad. When prices drop to half at 11am most of this will go. The boxes we'll box up and run to Goodwill.
3. Everyone loves this ashtry. And pretty much only this ashtray.
4. Hmm. So much white, yet neither shot feels light or airy.
5. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike tiny patterned wallpaper?
6. Or wicker in the bathroom?
7. See number 2
8. I wonder what the previous owner used in here with that great paper. I have a tote bag I like too, but I don't decorate with it.

GiniGL said...

I can feel the rage building in you all the way over here in Seattle. I feel the same way when artists less talented than I think I am get gallery shows. Who are they screwing? I'll screw em. Really - I will. Or aren't things done that way anymore? So when you find out how she's getting these gigs, let me know. If it works in the design world perhaps it will work in the art world as well.

ita darling. said...

I think Rita hits some weird decorating notes that probably resonate with some rich folks that like the following things:

- shaker design
- disco
- minimalism
- little house on the prairie
- grandma's house

if these things appeal to you and you want to embody these ideals in your surroundings, then she's your gal.

Appletree said...

Her grammar is hideous as are those photos.
Perplexed in Minneapolis as well.

Sharon @ Real Estate Resuscitation said...

I find her comments to you about her mother to be weird.

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Mmm, (chewing sounds), this fifth food group is nummy ; )

I really dug the feel of Todd Romano's office, but then again, he orchestrated that, not Rita.

Surely all the editorial shakeups going on these days have lots of designers-cum-writers-slash-lifestyle consultants floundering and grasping to reinvent their career descriptions.

Domino's short trajectory reads like a page out of the James Dean playbook -- fast, furious, the underage victim of a tragic demise. As such, anyone involved with the pub has reached quasi-mythical heights.

Clearly the post-Domino dust hasn't settled. It appears Rita may be flexing her chops for yet another editorial gig. With Veranda, perhaps?

Cuddles and thanks for sending your devoted followers my way, Alcira

Jane K. Schott said...

Right on, Raina.

Now she is working for the Wizard of Doom himself at the WSJ! You have to sign the deal with the devil to work for Mr. Murdoch. That aside....David is so right on all counts.

What is with the plant on the wicker box at an angle? Estate sale indeed.

Nice to hear from folks that I agree with completely.
Horrible photos, bad editorial choices, no taste, but she has Mom in her corner. A bit of nepotism you say?

YES! I just betcha'

Sally J said...

There's nothing impressive in any of the photos. That being said, what I apppreciate most is that you say what you think. It's a bit like the emperor's new clothes....thanks for the honest assessment even if you get some flak for it.


Well, of course, it's because of her MOTHER! Someone needs towel-folding lessons pronto. I'm dying with laughter over your post. Love you!

Nutbird said...

I can't believe none of Nina Campbell's good taste and artistic style rubbed off on her daughter. Rita's rooms are at best - pedestrian. It is hard to believe that she makes a living as a designer or design writer. Nepotism at its best? What is even worse, is the editor who selected those rooms to feature.

Ms. Bright said...

No witty of snarky comments here. Just that based on these photos...holy shiz, I AGREE!

Also, I find it hilarious that she felt compelled to email you. Excellent work, Ace!

Naz said...

I admire your honesty. Well stated.

Topaz said...

Based on her amateurish writing, is there any doubt where Konig is headed?

"It was a white and boxy room."

"It was the best of spaces; it was the worst of spaces."

"Call me Decorator."

Raina, thanks for once again telling it the way it is.

erin@designcrisis said...

These rooms make me so tired. They aren't awful; they just aren't interesting in the slightest.

My mom is a great decorator, too. Hopefully someone will hire me now.

melissa said...

I knew her when she was 20 21 22 23
She had no talent then either, not much in the way of a job, no idea what she was going to do in life (although she spent quite a lot of time trying to find boyfriends with castles in scotland. her general shrillness put most of the candidates off).

But she spent a lot of time telling us all she was Nina Campbell's daughter. Not that we gave a rat's arse (nor had much idea who NC "was").

Brilliant critique. That shot of the bathroom with the badly folded towels... well, you said it all. Lololol that she is emailing you to rant. Maybe she doesn't have enough work on?!

Oh, and the nice wallpaper in her entry hall? Nina Campbell. Funny, that!

Raina Cox said...

Melissa - Gold Star Comment of the Day!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Okay, all about me: I'm seriously well educated about the history of design. I have a good critical eye. I understand objects and context.

But, that doesn't make me a designer, and I don't have design talent. And I can tell when someone else doesn't either...

Nutbird said...

Okay, Melissa, what else do you know? And who else? The U.S. needs to know. Did she go to university, or did she do the Sotheby's route like a lot of her set? Ann

hoechstetterinteriors said...

Oy. One of my pet peeves about this whole industry is the (low) level of quality of the writing and spelling in many publications. So often, it makes me want to just tear out what's left of my hair, take a red pen to the whole issue, and send it back to the editor.

It really is sad that none of her mother's talents rubbed off on this woman. One would have to really work hard, I would think, to avoid gaining at least *some* of it by osmosis.

Pedestrian decorators make a living because they market themselves well, and because Joe and Jane Average haven't got enough taste to discern good design from bad. Some of them don't even make a living at it, though, and live lives funded by other means.

Modern Country Lady said...

Just came accross your most marvellous blog and this fantastic rant.
Poor, poor Rita Konig ;-)
I don't want to one-upmanship you, but actually Nina Campbell is also ...ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz .....very very very boring !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So no wonder.....

Raina Cox said...

Modern Country Lady - Hello to you and welcome to this deliciousness!