26 March 2010

The Skirted Roundtable – Criticism in Design Blogging

 

We all get them – negative comments on our blogs.  Or, we all leave them – negative comments on blogs.  Stephen Drucker, Editor in Chief of House Beautiful, in the April Editor’s Letter chose to address this subject:  negative criticism in blogging and design in general.  Linda, Megan and I take up the subject where Drucker left off.  Like I said, I don’t think we’ll be getting the cover anytime soon. 

(OK.  Let’s be real here.  It’s not like I would get the cover for any work of mine anyway.  Who am I kidding??? But, it sounds good.)

To listen, if you dare, go HERE.

31 comments:

  1. You are too humble, your designs are BEAUTIFUL and have people drooling over their computers all over the world!!! Onto the roundtable, this should be an interesting conversation!

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  2. One more word on your designs, if you don't mind sharing which fabric line your zebra print throw pillows are from I'd love to know! They look fantastic in your living room no matter what transformations you're making around them!

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  3. thanks so much for posting this! I'm enjoying the audio :)

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  4. Oh Joni, I LOVE 'The Skirts'... you say it like it is and push buttons!! The latest snide comment from my 'nasty' is that my pool house (which I lovingly referred to as 'four posts and a roof' during my build) is not a pool house. "If you are going to call it a pool house, it has to be a pool house and not just four posts and a roof"... apparently... who freakin' cares... says who? She's good though... she leaves her comments on other peoples blogs where she knows I'll find them... they're always a dig at something topical in my blog that she manages to extrapolate from the topic of the blog she is commenting on. It is interesting to watch how she appears to be getting more desperate to hurt me, along with being desperate to be noticed by high profile designer bloggers as evidenced by her frequent 'look at me, look at me comments' and her general gross lack of humility.... would make a good psych PhD thesis! The problem is you can't even call them on their behaviour as they just cannot see it... all you can do is sit back, watch the side show, and wait for the natural implosion! A-M xx

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  5. Criticism is important. It's a career for Roger Ebert, A.O. Scott, & I especially adore the criticism of Cathy Horyn for the fashion industry.

    Terry Teachout does a fabulous job of criticism for the Wall Street Journal.

    My industry, Landscape Design, had no professional critic until PUPPET BARBUDA.

    Her voice is educational, loving, passionate about her industry.

    Negative comments? Annonymous? Ha, they expose a sad interior life. Critics move templates forward & aren't afraid to post their name.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara
    aka PUPPET BARBUDA

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  6. Maybe it's the word "criticism" that doesn't work. "Commentary" sounds more positive. At the same time, being too emotional about your work means not being able to accept even constructive criticism, which is bad for the work itself. Potentially leading to hyper-sensitivity, over-identification, defensiveness, and a general loss of objectivity.

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  7. GM Joni, I just listened to SRT.I think the bottom line is constructive critique vs.mean-criticism. Thank God we live in a country that there is freedom of speech. How sad we live in a world where good manners have not been taught. I think it has to do with manners. I think if someone is asking for an honest opinion you should be constructive in trying to give them a critique that will make them think and try to better themselves, on their next project. I know what Mr. Drucker was saying. Bottom line he has discovered some amazing new talent out there. They might not be established in the ,"Design World" and how sad it would be if their creativity was stifled by the fear of "mean criticism". We just all need to be more courteous and helpful than to be mean and cutting. On another note that came up: I know high-end designers do rooms or whole houses with ,"Their" look and the client steps back and gives them full reign.I liked the comment you made on a design being client or homeowner driven. I personally think that is a real talent when you can take the homeowner's personality and create the best room possible with some of their family pieces and some new additions and it becomes a beautiful room that is uniquely theirs. IMHO. Interesting discussion to say the least, Have a great day Joni.
    PS I gave you a shout out on my blog post today!! Thankyou for always giving we readers food for thought! Kathysue

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  8. My industry, Landscape Design, had no professional critic until PUPPET BARBUDA.

    Her voice is educational, loving, passionate about her industry.


    Really Tara? You're writing this about yourself?

    I'm embarrassed for you.

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  9. One of the blind spots of the designer blogs is the fact that in most cases when a post is made showcasing the blogger's work, the usual commentors flock in like pigeons and fawn over the project. This occurs even if the project has used only two fabrics, both of which are in the same color value, matched it with paint, threw down the usual seagrass, and outfitted the mantle with pottery barn. Frankly, unlike much of the discussion, bloggers don't want to have their limitations on a project outed on the internet. While a project might well represent the desires and taste of the person paying for it, the wisest thing would be to stop showcasing work that is marginal. A project may be fresh and livable, but not necessarily rising to the status of "good design". I would suggest that design bloggers should learn to roll with the punches and learn from some of the observations of their readers.

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  10. Good discussion, girls. I agree Linda that after reading the left-wing Huffington Post, one does need a scrub down with lye soap. As to criticism, I suppose the adage "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen" would be in order.

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  11. Debra of OreillersMarch 28, 2010 at 7:34 AM

    I love your designs Joni, they’re done for a normal family who lives in their home and uses it but not a showpiece, you create a soothing beautiful space that’s also functional in today’s world. Why don’t you think you would get the cover of House Beautiful? You’re just as good as anyone else…personally speaking! As for naysayers we all have our personal opinions what I don’t get is why hide behind the word anonymous? We each have our own taste, our own style, and nobody should discount the other for his or her personal taste. I have noticed that your naysayer is nothing more then a mean spirited person who obviously has nothing good to say about anything so ignore them, they’re only doing it for attention and I would love to see their home. People really should open their minds and learn to appreciate other styles whether or not it’s your taste, it’s what helps you develop your eye and grow as a human being. Loved the skirted round table this week, keep up the fabulous work Joni and thank you once again for a job well done!

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  12. Hi,
    I love your blog and perspective and am an antiques dealer in New jersey. Southern gals are my best customers ...I've told them all about your blog.
    I am desperately trying to update my "Country French" kitchen, I sold the scrolly iron island chandelier I picked up in France and need lighting AND island stools {I have scrolly iron, yikes!} any ideas??
    Merci

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  13. It's time for the design bloggers to take a little personal inventory. Who are you kidding when you campaign for one of the designers in the Bloomingdale's contest? When another design blogger attacked Habitually Chic recently, were any of you defending Ms. Clawson or refusing to comment on VV's blog in protest of the hateful and unprofessional conduct. You have to be really sick and mean to go public with photos and comments about how one's clothes are fitting (camel toe) and attack the professional integrity of a blogger and call it worth appealing to a national audience. By the number of comments, however, that particular blog would not be deemed "national". Instead of being so concerned about negative comments from your readers, try a little introspection occasionally.

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  14. I'm so out of the loop... I don't have a clue what anyone is talking about. lol Maybe that is a good thing.

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  15. I love your blog! It gives me so many ideas about how to decorate our home.
    I nominated your blog as a Beautiful Blog Award winner. If you want to know more about it, check out my blog at:

    http://yankeeswonderwall.blogspot.com/

    It's a silly little award, but if I can get more people to read your amazing posts, then I feel it's done it's job.

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  16. This was another fascinating listen!
    I had been curious if Mr. Drucker had writen that editorial partly because there were some not so nice comments directed at his comments on a Decorno post (about a particular comment of all things)just prior to HB coming out. After listening to this and re-reading the Decorno post, I think it was more about everything else you all brought up, the Apartment Therapy stuff etc....

    Looking forward to the next SRT!

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  17. Just got back from reading the SRT comments...my goodness! Need to rest for a second and think sunny thoughts! :)

    Obviously this one was a winner...quite the discussion!

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  18. 24 Corners, it was a great discussion. For once we enjoyed the fresh air with the absence of the oooohs and awwwwws of the usual crowd that shows up to worship at the alter of the design blogs. I suppose after the exposure CDT got for enjoying the fun at Drucker's expense, there is a letter "post haste" making amends on Sir Stephen's desk. After all, as Joni says, Stephen is on top of his game, he is the best in the business and please forgive me if I laughed at his nose. With a little luck and enough suck up she might actually make it in HB some day. HB is overdue for an issue on homemaker/wanna be designers.

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  19. Do you honestly believe that Drucker would be caught dead reading in the same place as Gay Hooker - not that there are a lot of those in the Hamptons and not that he may know some, but really Decorno doesn't seem to be his style.

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  20. Can't wait to give this one a listen. I listen to you girls every Sunday while I'm painting furniture! It's my little indulgence! As far as negative comments, I just seem to notice that there is negativity just about everywhere you look anymore, there are people who aren't happy unless they are complaining or criticizing others and sorry to say this us women are the worse when it comes to this. I believe design is so personal and if you really dislike it and you feel compelled to talk about it you can say it in a way that can be respectful and in turn not be so negative. I don't believe in complimenting for no reason at all but I also don't believe in thinking I have the right to speak my mind and not care about other people's feelings. In all design work I like to approach it as even if its not my style I can still try and appreciate it. Anyways, I love your blog and the Skirted Roundtable!

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  21. Joni, I just listened to the SRT discussion last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    If blog comments are always sweet and fluffy, then they can lose their authenticity. Honesty keeps it real and we need that on the blogs, but with boundaries. I certainly enjoy a good debate and challenging discussion. However, to comment with an opinion on the subject matter of the post is one thing, but when the commenter feels it their right to start getting personal, they have crossed the line...and when they take it so far as to attack your family (I have seen it).....then they have stepped too far and need to be stopped. How do we do that? Delete the comment? Moderate?-(there's another good discussion).

    Hiding behind anonymity allows these people to be bullies and cowards at the same time. On the one hand they make me very angry and on the other I have to wonder what in their lives can be so wrong that they see a need to do this. I think there must be sad stories behind these people and that makes it easier to disregard the message and move on.

    Thank you for your open dialogue.

    Chania

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  22. I often think of Blogs like shops. If you go into one that is not your taste, or find nothing worth buying, you step out. One would never launch an attack on the buyer, owner or shopkeeper based on incompatible sensibilites or poor inventory. Unlike a magazine, one does not pay to read, view or access a blog so customer satisfaction does not apply.
    I also could not agree more with the previous commenter's sentiment:
    "I have to wonder what in their lives can be so wrong that they see a need to do this."

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  23. "Unlike a magazine, one does not pay to read, view or access a blog so customer satisfaction does not apply".

    No one has implied GranEscala, that design blogs and print media are one and the same. However, when one publishes theirs or the works of others and invite commentary, you have to expect that not all of it will necessarily be to the blogger's satisfaction or agreement. If I think that a room is poorly designed, either by color, furnishings, layout, etc., do you honestly believe that my expressing that opinion implies that I have something missing in my life? Is that a view that gives you satisfaction because it is people like you who bubble over with praise regardless of the worth of a post or project. You and a few other commentors seem to think that critiquing a project is tantamount to having a sad and unfulfilled life and nothing is most likely further from the truth. It is simply a response that gives you some satisfaction because you can't think of anything to say so you genuflect. If bloggers done't want critical comments they should stay out of the public arena with their design projects or quit whining.

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  24. "If I think that a room is poorly designed, either by colour, furnishings, layout, etc., do you honestly believe that my expressing that opinion implies that I have something missing in my life?"
    Yes. Anon@5:45 The first thing you are missing is your nomination and appointment as design critic for the World Wide Web.
    When a blogger requests comments , he or she is expecting just that, it does not all have to be positive but you neither paid for her services nor will be forced to live in the spaces designed. This will probably hurt, but your approval is not required and completely irrelevant. A good therapist can help you with this as I suspect that that the design bloggers are not the only ones getting the blunt of your issues. Your unrequested critiques (you probably think you are providing a public service with your pearls of design wisdom and refined eye) show that you also lack even the most basic notion of accepted social practices and forms.
    Finally; If you truly want to enlighten us, share some of your work or personal spaces with Joni or on one of the forums that you've blessed with your "mentoring". Even if the work is of poor quality, I am sure some of the gracious comments will help start the healing.

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  25. GranEscala, you don't disappoint. You continue the notion that one must prove something before opining. With you it seems that the right of expression must be earned. I believe it is given when designers post their work and offer up a comments section. I also believe it is totally disingenuous to heap praise where praise is not merited. I don't know if you are a designer or not, but I would enjoy seeing your personal spaces, if you dare. Perhaps having become such a defender of the "faith" here, Joni will allow you to post those lovely and endearing photos on her site. I can assure you, dear, that my personal spaces will stand the test of anything posted at CDT and at your site as well, if you have one. I am not assuming I am a design critic here or anywhere else for that matter. I do believe that the issue was critical remarks about blog posts and the fact that the bloggers don't like them. Why don't you try to figure out why instead of rebuking others for whom you have no information in your high handed, arrogant post. As stated earlier, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Another question to ponder - do you see men ever conducting themselves this way. Do you see successful executives and/or designers whining because someone dares critique their work. The answer is no! If anything it makes them dig deeper, work harder and try to learn more about their craft rather than staying in the comfort zone of their formulae design schemes. In short, perhaps you might say women need to grow a pair and shut up.Now dearie, go take on the day and someone else next time.

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  26. "I can assure you, dear, that my personal spaces will stand the test of anything posted at CDT and at your site as well."

    Are you a betting (wo)man?

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  27. "If I think that a room is poorly designed, either by color, furnishings, layout, etc., do you honestly believe that my expressing that opinion implies that I have something missing in my life?"

    Interesting, don't you think that Razmataz didn't mention you, specifically, Anonymous 5:45, but you obviously identified with the description!!!!

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  28. Kerry, I used the pronoun "I" because she was addressing Anon posters and because I post as "anon", I felt it appropriate to use the personal pronoun. I did not identify with the description because I posed the question. In fact, the description could not be further from the truth. I know that must disappoint some of you lacking the guts to express yourself. It sounds like you have been "lawyering up" girlfriend or you would not be knit picking the semantics here.

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  29. To: Anon. 9:13 - You ask "Are you a betting wo(man)?

    You're damn right I am!

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  30. It's the same all around blog world, I think - there are folks who for whatever reason feel the need to launch into an attack, under the cover of anonymity - things they would no more say face to face than a man in the moon. It is what it is, some wear it as a badge of honor...if you've brought out the malcontents, you're doing something right.

    Design criticism is particularly difficult to gauge because most of us do take our work personally. And there's a fundamental difference between design and the traditional understanding of art - liking art is subjective, but whether or not a work is good isn't - there are rules and aesthetic and parameters by which guide us to appreciate great artistic works whether or not we like them. It might be worth considering design in the same framework, remembering that not every artist is great, but often quite good, and suited to particular projects, and that even great artists are capable of less than stellar work.

    And what's wrong with encouraging one another? Is being ugly necessary, or just fun? I don't remember ever having to be told something I'd done was awful, I knew, and as the SRT discussed, you just fix it and carry on. The snark posing as critic is so overplayed.

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  31. Perhaps Mr. Drucker will clarify his letter from the editor's desk at some point in the future. It would certainly appear logical that an editor of a national shelter magazine would be too busy to really care about what goes on in design blogs, but apparently not. I think it would be interesting if he put more specifics to his commentary.

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