The tastemaker: Rita Konig

Interior designer Rita Konig on her early influences, design philosophy and the interiors created for our Collector sales in London this November

London-based interior designer and author Rita Konig is best known in the world of interiors for her relaxed style. The best kind of rooms, she says, ‘are those that make you want to come in, sit down and stay a while’. Over the past 17 years, Konig has completed high-profile commercial and residential projects both in London and in the US.

The daughter of interiors doyenne Nina Campbell, whose clients span royalty and A-list celebrities, Rita was immersed in the world of interiors from a young age. ‘I used to work in [my mother’s] shop when I was quite little, which I loved,’ she reveals. 

Days spent wandering around trade fairs, as well as early shopping trips with Campbell in search of china, tassels and fringes, further fuelled her interest in design. ‘I suppose that was all quite formative,’ she muses. ‘And magical. Even a sock shop in Florence was very exciting.’

While Campbell’s style is characterised by a quintessential English elegance, Konig’s is defined by a quieter charm which sees her deftly layering pattern, texture and colour to create, soft, intimate spaces.

‘For me, it’s all about being comfortable and really enjoying the place you live in,’ says Konig during our film shoot at Burghley House. ‘Ultimately, you’re trying to make the spaces really comfortable, because unless they’re comfortable you won’t go in them.’

One of a pair of Japanese gilt-metal mounted, gilt and black lacquer coffers, first half 19th century. Estimate £4,000-6,000. A Howard & Sons ‘Bridgewater’ easy armchair, late 20th century. Estimate £800-1,200
One of a pair of Japanese gilt-metal mounted, gilt and black lacquer coffers, first half 19th century. Estimate: £4,000-6,000. A Howard & Sons ‘Bridgewater’ easy armchair, late 20th century. Estimate: £800-1,200

For Konig though, it’s the finishing touches and accessories, including china, glasses, coffee-table books and plants, that really bring a room together and make a house a comfortable home. ‘Those final details are what really make a house feel lived in and loved,’ she says, ‘and, most importantly, somewhere you want to be.’

Konig has curated the London series of Collector sales, which take place on 13 and 14 November, creating a series of styled vignettes at Burghley House with pieces from the auction. She describes this collaboration as an exciting opportunity to show collectors how these pieces, which span periods and styles, ‘can actually be soft and gentle and be part of your life’.

Among the many highlights coming to Christie’s is a German brass-inlaid ebony and ‘Boulle’ marquetry secrétaire-on-chest, possibly by Anton Lüchtenstein, dating to the early 18th century. 

‘It was exciting to be able to style the Boulle cabinet, which is really grand and imposing, in a friendly and welcoming way,’ says Konig. ‘By placing things on top of it and a drinks tray on it, the cabinet comes alive and is more relatable.’

The designer also admires a beautiful pair of mid-19th-century Meissen porcelain flower-encrusted vases and covers; and a Regency oak and ebony-inlaid dressing table attributed to George Bullock, circa 1815. 

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The excitement of buying at auction is rooted in the hunt and the chase, explains Konig: ‘You never know what you’re going to find and who you’re going to be up bidding against.’ 

Success, she argues, depends on just how much you want to be part of an object’s story. ‘With each generation there’s a different way of living,’ states the designer. ‘Discovering the previous life and stories of a house or an antique is something I will always find amazing.’