A Week in Culture: Rita Konig, Designer
June 16, 2010 | by Rita Konig
10:00 A.M. Ojai, California. Visiting my friend Honor Fraser and her family. Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is playing when I get up, and seems to continue on a loop most of the weekend. Dennis Hopper has died. More oil spilling. Picture in Times of Obama giving a press conference in Louisiana. There is a dorsal fin swimming about in the bay behind them. Has anyone else noticed?
2:00 P.M. Go up to Beatrice Wood1’s studio. Wood died when she was one hundred and five years old and worked as a potter right up until her death. Honor and I watch 1980s interviews2 with her. I buy her biography, I Shock Myself. I love reading about the unsuspecting feminists, the ones who lived their lives according to their own tune, rather than getting in a bate about women’s rights. I suspect that not all of her life was happy, as it so often is not when you take the road less traveled. I imagine it can be quite lonely between the glamorous and exciting stops. Still, she made a very spirited ninety year old.
7:30 P.M. Read "Little Red Riding Hood" to my godson three times, The Cat in the Hat once and “The Ruby Prince” twice. Roscoe is showing no signs of falling asleep. I can barely keep my eyes open. What is it about children that they like the same story over and over again? Am not into LRRH. I don’t remember this ending3 at all. The wolf eats the granny AND LRRH in one gulp each and the hunter comes along and rescues them by cutting open the wolf and there they are, good as new? Love The Cat in the Hat4. But find it exhausting to read. Are there ANY full stops? Think I will faint if I read it again.
10:00 A.M. Fergie is going to be on Oprah tomorrow night. Poor Fergie. Shouldn’t she have smelt a rat?
11:00 A.M. Go down to end of garden to lie in hammock with The Far Cry5, by Emma Smith. It’s heaven lying here, over long grasses, large cushion behind my head, blue sky above through the trees.6:00 P.M. Make tea but really only want cake. Read more of Emma Smith in large sofa6. It used to be in Honor’s house in Scotland and as girls we virtually lived in it. After dances (we were really uncool: these were reeling parties, no nightclubs for us) we all used to curl up until the morning in our long dresses chatting and drinking sloe gin and lemonade. This sofa is strangely sentimental to both of us, and SO comfortable. It is funny to see Roscoe lying on it in Ojai watching Fantastic Mr. Fox oblivious to its history.
8:00 P.M. Am bored by “Little Red Riding Hood” and I don’t like the illustrations. Then I find The Wind in the Willows. A score! It is long enough that we don’t have to repeat it, and such a charming story. So win, win.
10:00 P.M. Oil is still spewing in real time on the news. It is panic-making to watch. But gripping? I mean: gushing oil? It’s a catastrophe, but watching it pour forth is not that interesting. The only thing that is clear in this murky picture is that nothing is going to happen . . . UNTIL AUGUST!!!
10:00 A.M. Los Angeles. At Honor’s gallery. She is showing Mark Licare7’s works on paper and one sculpture of a fridge filled with moldy food, rather Kenny Scharfish, which captured Roscoe’s imagination.
12:00 P.M. Lunch in Culver City at Royal T. It is what’s called a cosplay café. The waitresses are dressed as French maids—or rather, as the Japanese animated version. There are equally animated-looking cupcakes at the counter. Manage to resist, but eat all of Roscoe’s noodles, which are green and he refuses to eat. They are DELICIOUS. My duck salad is not so good, but he loves it. He is excited about eating a duck. The space is huge, like an airplane hangar. Around the edge behind glass walls hangs the owner’s revolving art collection8.
3:00 P.M. Leave for New York City. On the flight home watch The Notebook. Really embarrassing since I am now crying9 when the stewardess comes by offering animal crackers.
5:45 P.M. Moving from book to magazine, to movie, to newspaper. Japanese candy in between, more animal crackers, club soda and looking out the window11.
1:00 A.M. Get home late. Vogue on doorstep. There is Hamish Bowles looking like a merman in a half-suit, half-wetsuit outfit and a surf board under his arm. Of all things. I love the way he writes. He is the Cecil Beaton of our time. All the same, jet lagged and just can’t stay awake. Fall asleep with light on.
Check back tomorrow for the second installment of Rita Konig's Culture Diary. Konig is a decorator and style writer.
- Not wild about her pottery, even if it is worth a bundle, but the place is amazing, in the hills looking out over the Ojai valley. Spectacular, and so peaceful. At the front of the house is this old truck which runs on vegetable oil and a travelling band live inside it, the current artists-in-residence. It looks like a mobile trash can and must smell like a Krispy Kreme shop.
- Very Golden Girls: sitting-room sets with over made up middle aged women all using each other’s names a lot. Wood is dressed in sherbet-coloured saris and lots of large Indian jewelry. She attributes her longevity to a balanced diet of young men and chocolate.
- “The Ruby Prince” and LLRH are both from a book of what, I thought, were frightful fairy tales. Maybe too close to their original German. “The Ruby Prince” is about a Ruby that turns into a Prince. The Shah, who owns the ruby, sends the prince off to slay a dragon in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Of course!
- For those who, like me, are unfamiliar with it, it’s about two bored children sitting at home in the rain. Their mother goes out and suddenly in comes this crazy cat. The best part of the book, I think, is the bad-tempered goldfish who is always saying, “Don’t do that – you’ll break it!”
- It’s about this slightly awkward twelve year old girl called Theresa, she’s not terribly pretty, and when not at boarding school lives with her maiden aunt. I have started reading this book about five times—have been told to persevere by my friend Lisa, who I gave it to when she was short of a book on holiday. She returns it a few weeks later having LOVED it! Her advice is: persevere to the point where the weather starts to warm up. So I do.
- Now Theresa and her horrid father are hurrying around London preparing for a trip to India. Poor Theresa. Her father makes her so nervous she has been sick in a restaurant, he is furious and embarrassed. He is unbearable. They are now on the ship heading for India. The warm weather can’t be far off.
- I liked the drawings best. My brother had a book when we were little called What A Mess. The styles are very similar.
- My favorite piece is the Party in a Box. It is a disused Port-a-Loo. Inside there is an iPod playing and a disco ball going round and round. You can go in and shut the door and dance—which Roscoe does. All by himself!
- I cry easily in the air, I can’t be trusted to write anything on a plane because it is always embarrassing when I read it later.
- I love Fornascetti. I had one of his umbrellas with his muse’s eyes around the perimeter. I held onto it for so long—longer than I’ve ever kept an umbrella. I even managed to retrieve it once after someone walked off with it . . . of course it eventually went the way of all umbrellas.
- The flight to between LA and New York is amazing if it is a clear day—to get an aerial view crossing America. To think of those poor folk in their wagons! WHAT did they do when they got to some great canyon and then on top of it Indians shooting at them from the hills above? But these are airplane thoughts.