Why This Cover of RUE Magazine Means So Much
This post comes after a disturbing weekend tweet from my friend, Roslyn Ashford of Ra ReDoes Room or @wdchomstager if you are on twitter. She tweeted to me that there were no black designers in Uptown Magazine's new Design and Food Issue. I truly don't know how this happened when just a few months ago, I commended Uptown Magazine for their commitment to featuring the room designs of African Americans. Could it be that even Uptown cares more about the status of the homeowner than the designers who created them? Did I get it wrong?
When you have beef with editors, especially those of a national magazine, you have to tread lightly. Mainly because these are your friends and you're not just throwing comments out into the universe, but you are in fact, speaking out against people that you work with and actually like.
Your biggest complaint is that our magazines (Essence, Ebony, Jet) go to the same designers time and time again, despite what the designers are actually doing. In fact, black publications are so far behind, that many times, they quote designers that are all but irrelevant in today's design landscape.
Because of the nature of what I do, Design (I've been in business for over 10 years), Blog (yes about the African American Influence on Interior Design), and Speak Publicly (About the African American Influence on Interior Design), I hear from designers and design enthusiasts who feel under-represented in the national media.
I understand their complaints, but I also I understand that it is not a personal crusade against Black designers and that many people, even those who are charged with knowing about these things, just don't have the proper information. Why you ask? It's simple.
Designers who are great and are doing amazing projects may not always social media savvy. They might have a Facebook page, but are not well-versed in how to use social media to enhance their business.
Decorators, refinishers, and all around design lovers, who are social media savvy are visible, but are not doing the types of projects that impress. However, because they are on twitter, Facebook, Instagram or google +, they're able to meet editors and garner the attention of the press.
So, the editor who is doing the research ends up having a hard time finding the type of designer that is fresh, relevant and able to supplement them with projects time after time.
Ultimately, what happens is the editors don't run the stories because they're hard to find and therefore the world seldom sees the various ways in which we live and express our style at home. I have made it my mission with Pinkeggshell to not only give you stories that include Black designers from all walks of life, but to celebrate the African-American Designers that are making things happen.
In May, I held the first ever African American Top 20 Event in New York. It was a wonderful celebration of some of the best designers working in the business. I had to challenge myself to not be attached to the outcome and to remember that the goal is for the world to get to know the designers and from there to show up in the pages of your favorite magazines.
Why is this important? Because we have to see images of ourselves living well to know that we can achieve it. It needs to be as normal of an occurrence as seeing black models on the cover of Harper's Bazaar or Vogue. There has to be a basic belief that not only certain social sets are privy to living well and that we all have a wonderful home inside of us.
I want to commend Crystal Gentilello over at Rue for choosing this model and thinking that she could inspire an editorial fit for her readers. I'm sure when she came up with the idea, she didn't know how proud she and her team would make an entire community. It is my hope that more and more shelter magazines look to our community for stories and insights into what makes our contribution to the home and lifestyle industry so intriguing.
As with anything the charge is education. No one is doing it wrong. Anyone who is finding their niche in design deserves a voice and an opportunity to share. Our style when it comes to the home, just as when it comes to fashion, is varied, diverse, and sure to inspire readers while leaving an impact on the world for years to come.
All Images : June/July 2012 Issue of Rue Magazine.