Welcome to Curbed Interviews, a new column in which the talented Raina Cox (of If the Lamp Shade Fits and Curbed's Moonlighting series) interviews major players in shelter media and interior design. Have a suggestion for someone whose voice should be heard? Send it here.
Elle Decor editor in chief Michael Boodro had some chic shoes to fill with last year's departure of Margaret Russell, but having served as as the magazine's executive editor, he was uniquely qualified to assume the mantle of one the country's top shelter magazines. Continuity aside, he has proven his edtiorial mettle with newsstand sales up 26 percent over last year and the recent announcement of Elle Decor's No. 3 spot on ADweek's annual Hot List.
Today, reps for the magazine write in with the full 2011 A-List, editors' picks for the top 25 American designers that are part of the dialogue right this second. (For more on the A-List and a slide show of the designers' work head over to Elle Decor.) They're joined by the five additional "Designers to Watch" who are participating in Elle Decor's first-ever NYC showhouse, which is set to open to the public on May 20. Speaking of which: exactly one week from today it will be Boodro himself giving Curbed a sneak peek of this so-called Modern Life Concept House—stay tuned for our coverage next week. Meanwhile, we caught up with Boodro and talked to him about the value of print media, the beauty of bloggers, and bidding adieu to the "all-beige look."
During your magazine career you've served as launch editor for [the now-defunct] Culture & Travel, an editor of the Style section at the New York Times Magazine, editor in chief of Garden Design Magazine, and features editor at Vogue—not to mention other editorial positions at House & Garden, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. Which magazines (print or digital) do you think are today's biggest cultural influencers?
I think the web is fantastic for immediate information! And the web has filled a need. But print magazines allow you to analyze and inspect. Elle Decor and House Beautiful are great for that. The New Yorker, New York magazine, and other local magazines give people the information they need and they love that.
You've said when looking for content for Elle Decor and its website your mandate is "Dazzle me!" Are there any looks or trends you and your editors consider so tired or overdone that they are given an automatic pass?
We don’t give any project an automatic pass. Though the all-beige look is something we’re not interested in. The idea that people want to live in a pared-down, beige, all-neutral environment that looks like a hotel suite is passé. Being pale and impersonal does nothing and I’m not sorry to see it go.
The February/March 2011 issue of Elle Decor saw a nearly 40 percent jump in ad sales over the same issue from the previous year. Do you attribute the gain to changes under your tenure, an improvement in the economy, or some other factor?
It was me! It was all me! I’m joking! Actually, we didn’t make that many staff changes. I would say 98 percent of our people are still here doing a great job. We’ve lost many shelter magazines, sadly. Advertisers have to support it. Readers have to support it. Designers have to support it. People now know you’re not likely to trade in your house. You’re going to make it better, more comfortable, and more welcoming when you walk through the door.
Elle Decor's Modern Life Concept House, a contemporary take on designer showhouses, opens its doors soon in NYC. You have also announced a similar endeavor in Miami this December—what are Elle Decor's goals in presenting these events?
The web has been a huge influence and magazines are no longer magazines—they are brands. We are trying to present Elle Decor to its readers in a format they want, whether it be website, iPhone or iPad. They look to us for expert guidance.
With the Modern Life Concept House, we are presenting the magazine in three dimensions and giving the younger generation a new way to talk to designers. Elle Decor has a very clear ID and the MLCH will bring in Elle Decor readers in 3D by letting people walk through it.
As a part of Elle Decor's Modern Life Concept House you will giving BlogFest 2011 attendees a sneak-peek tour of the show house. How do you view the relationship between shelter magazines and design and lifestyle bloggers?
I do think the whole idea about how passionate a group of people is about design is great. It used to be with a magazine we’d put a message in a bottle and never hear back. These days we hear back within a day—“I like the cover; I don’t like the cover.” The response is instant.
Bloggers have formed a community. They reach each other and they refer to each other. It’s a visceral and immediate response. We find designers through blogs and we find writers through blogs. loggers are our biggest fans and critics. They are our proselytisers.
And the design industry is fascinated with them—the fact that they care and are interested in what happens. We read these people daily. These posts are like an intimate phone call from a friend.
And now, without further ado, here's the list of the Elle Decor 2011 A-List:
Jeffrey Allan Marks
Roman & Williams
Ernest de la Torre
Todd Alexander Romano
Richard Keith Langham
Along with these "Designers to Watch":
Rafael de Cardenás
Todd Nickey/Amy Kehoe
· Sneaking a Peek at April Elle Decor and the Mag's Sunny Stats [Curbed National]
· AdWeek's Hot List [Curbed National]
· 2011 A-List [Elle Decor]
· Elle Decor Announces Designers for NYC Showhouse! [Curbed National]
· BlogFest 2011 [official site]
· All Elle Decor coverage [Curbed National]
· All Curbed Interviews [Curbed National]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [official site]