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7 Questions

Seven Questions for Lisa Martin, InStyle’s Director of Photography

LisaMartin_StBartsLisa Martin started at InStyle in 1999 as a freelance photo editor. Fifteen years and several promotions later she is director of photography at the Time Inc. magazine-cum-media brand, which prides itself on “delivering the knowledge and confidence to make the everyday fabulous.” On the occasion of InStyle‘s 20th anniversary mega-issue, Martin (pictured at right, sailing in St Barts while on a shoot with cover girl Cameron Diaz) took a break from overseeing the photo department, hiring photographers and stylists, and conceptualizing photo shoots to tell us about some of her favorite images, how she views the magazine’s signature aesthetic, and more.

What are a few of your favorite images from the September fall fashion/20th anniversary issue?
There are so many outstanding pictures in our September issue that I love, but the beauty story we did with Haley Bennett (below), shot by Jan Welters, was extraordinary. It was one of those shoots when all the pieces come together—the makeup artist, Wendy Rowe, achieved beautiful, clean skin texture with subtle neutral tones on Haley’s eyes and lips; the lighting was beautiful; and the styling, perfect. I don’t wear makeup, but if I did, I would try those makeup looks.

instyle sept haley bennett

How do you describe the aesthetic or visual signature of InStyle?
Our visual aesthetic is sophisticated but accessible—the photos are rich in texture and color, so readers want to linger and look at them, especially because they’re inspired by what they see. Our fashion looks luxurious—and in many cases, it is—but it also looks like clothing you would want to wear. We want to make images that are modern and iconic while celebrating the recent fashion trends and celebrities.

How have you seen that aesthetic change over the 15 years you’ve been at the magazine?
InStyle was the first magazine to give readers access to the stars’ everyday lives, seen through a lens of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Now, we’ve evolved into a luxury fashion brand—we went from shooting lifestyle and home stories to creating beautiful fashion and beauty stories in the well. We’ve also broadened our photography roster to include more fashion photographers. In addition, there’s a huge front-of-book section and in the back of the book there’s the “Life Etc.” section, with incredible food and lifestyle photography. We give the InStyle reader 360-degree celebrity access.
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Seven Questions for Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief Michael Boodro

Michael Boodro 2014_lo.resThe September issue of Elle Decor arrived in a flourish of silvery hues and starchitect selfies, looking ahead to the future of design with no fear of the past (or of a bold red armchair). At the editorial helm of the Hearst shelter magazine is Michael Boodro, who predicts that over the next quarter century, “the print version of the magazine will become more of a luxury object and we’ll see increases in e-edition sales. I think people will continue to turn to Elle Decor for inspiration and resources. We’re always going to have a passion for finding new talent and peoples’ homes will continue to be a refuge that reflects their tastes.” We managed to catch Boodro between the September issue unveiling and the launch of the magazine’s new book to chat about the big 2-5, what he read this summer, and the best advice Anna Wintour ever gave him.

Elle Decor turns 25 this year. How are you celebrating?
We have celebrated throughout the year with special stories looking back, but it all culminates with our big 25th anniversary issue, out now. It is full of projects by quintessential Elle Decor designers, including Steven Gambrel and Darryl Carter, as well as a celebration of silver—the traditional 25th anniversary gift—and a special section on the future of design, because Elle Decor has always looked ahead and sought out new talents. We also have our third book, The Height of Style: Inspiring Ideas from the World’s Chicest Rooms, coming out later this month [September 16] from Abrams.

How do you describe the editorial mission/philosophy of the magazine?
I actually think our most important mission is to inspire. Sure, we want to keep our readers informed as to the latest projects and trends, but our readers are passionate about design, and they want to know the stories behind the room, behind the product. They are just as interested in design history as in what is new. They are open to new ideas and want to see all kinds of interiors from around the world—even if it’s not the way they want to live themselves. We try to keep them engaged and surprised, on everything from interiors to art to food to travel.
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Seven Questions for Karim Rashid

Karim RashidIt’s been a busy, brightly colored, organic-shaped summer for Karim Rashid. The designer has given lectures, made appearances, and occasionally DJ’ed in cities from Miami and Toronto to Hamburg and Ekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth-largest city). On Friday he could be found in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he keynoted the Construye & Remodela confab. Not that there’s any shortage of stateside projects: Rashid was recently commissioned to design three Manhattan residential buildings, including a mixed-use project (20 apartments, with office and commercial space at the street level) located at 1633-1655 Madison Avenue. The concept is a continuation of Rashid’s signature boundary-pushing, rooted in a desire to “bring a fulgent vibrancy to the environment and move away the trends away from tired archetypes and cold minimalism.” He made time between groundbreakings, prototyping sessions, and DJ sets to answer our seven questions.

You recently lectured—and DJed—in Ekaterinburg, Russia. What is your impression of the state of design in Russia?
I have been to Russia 25 times and always love the country, the energy, the people, the intellectual spirit, the food, the sensibilities. In regards the state of design I have seen things change drastically since 14 years ago, but the problem is that Russia has not embraced the design phenomena enough, yet it is getting better and better. The condition is changing. In order to know Russian designers internationally they either work and develop brands in Russia—that become globally established—or work for foreign companies. And in all those trips very few Russian companies approach me to design for them.

Russia with all its diversified money, increasing incomes, intelligence, education, and manufacturing capability, lacks globally recognized brands. I always thought how fascinating it is that a country like Sweden has international brands like IKEA, H&M, Absolut, Volvo, and Voss with only a population of 7 million. Because of the size of Russia, companies were producing goods exclusively for their huge market and taking no impetus to export. Russia has the manpower and money to create major global brands. But times have changed and the doors to the West are open. I would love to see Russia build some very contemporary brands that contribute to our beautiful global consumer landscape.

I just completed the new OK.RU website [a popular Russian social media platform], and I am working on a shopping mall in St. Petersburg, an orange juice bottle, a cognac bottle, a tractor, and other projects in Russia, but I would love to design some hotels in every major city. There is a lack of design-driven boutique hotels in Russia.
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Seven Questions for Chester Jenkins, Designer of New Cooper Hewitt Typeface

(Kirstin McKee)
(Photo: Kirstin McKee)

Come December, the renovated and expanded Cooper Hewitt will welcome back visitors with a bold new look. The tricky task of reimagining the graphic identity of the Smithsonian Design Museum was taken on by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, who tapped Chester Jenkins to work his typographical magic. Jenkins, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Village, created a custom typeface—Cooper Hewitt—that the museum has released into the digital wild: the bold sans serif can be downloaded free of charge as installable fonts, Web font files, and open-source code. Having taken the recent press preview of the museum as an excuse to follow Jenkins around and ask him his views on the various typefaces that were revealed by the painstaking restoration of the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, we agreed to relent if he would answer just seven more questions. He graciously agreed.

c h logotypeWhat three words best describe the Cooper Hewitt typeface?
Objective. Accessible. Spirited.

How does Cooper Hewitt differ from your Polaris Condensed?
The width of Cooper Hewitt is based on the Semicondensed version of Polaris, which only exists as beta fonts on the computers at Pentagram and UFOs on my hard drive. When I drew the Cooper Hewitt types, I didn’t recycle the outlines of Polaris, but instead drew everything from scratch, referring to Polaris Semicondensed, not simply tweaking it.

The range of weights is greater in Cooper Hewitt; while a couple of the master weights were based on Polaris, the family of fonts has a different internal structure. A significant stylistic difference is in the hewing to horizontal and vertical stroke endings, as opposed to the angled terminal strokes which are a touchstone of Polaris. Then there are the “plateaus”—or “plateaux” for the linguistic sticklers—within most of the curves in round glyphs. You can’t really see them at anything less than a million points, but they separate the two designs. And the numerals and currency glyphs depart significantly from Polaris.

Village is a type co-op—what is that exactly and who are the members?
Village is a group of a dozen small foundries from around the world. While not technically organized as a co-operative, our model was the first of its kind in the digital era, as far as we are aware. We contact our members to discuss important decisions, such as adding new members to the group. The members sometimes collaborate with each other, and often pass along custom projects where one member is more suited than another. We also avoid stepping on each others’ toes; one member will not publish a design if it’s stylistically close to another member’s design. We distribute the work of our members: A2-Type, Blackletra, Feliciano Type Foundry, Klim, LuxTypo., MCKL, Schwartzco, Type Supply, and Urtd. We publish work through two foundries: Constellation and Incubator.
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Seven Questions for Jessica Hische

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“The basis of any word is a single letter,” says self-described “letterer, illustrator, and crazy cat lady” Jessica Hische, known for performing stunningly beautiful typographical feats for the likes of Wes Anderson, Penguin Books, The New York Times, and—be still our justice-loving hearts—John Hodgman. Among her latest projects is a stationery collection for the Luxe Project, a Moo initiative that pairs top creative talent with Moo’s deluxe business cards, letterheads, and notecards, and then gives 100% of net proceeds to the designer’s charity of choice (Hische’s feline-friendly pick: the ASPCA). She made time in her busy, bicoastal—San Francisco and Brooklyn—schedule to answer our questions about the luxe letterforms adapted from her Daily Drop Cap project, her book jacket for The Circle by Dave Eggers, and more.

For those not familiar with Daily Drop Cap, what is it and how did it come about?
I started Daily Drop Cap because, when I left working at Louise Fili Ltd., I wanted an excuse to draw letterforms every day, even when I wasn’t being paid to by clients. I wanted a way to experiment and develop my lettering skills since I was about to step out on my own, away from the daily mentoring of Louise. Originally, I had planned on doing an alphabet a week instead of a letter a day, but decided quickly that I wasn’t up for a challenge that enormous at the time. I gave myself the goal of twelve alphabets, a number that seemed daunting but doable, and for a year and a half I drew a letter every single day. It ended up becoming the thing that really kicked my career into full swing and made people pay attention to the work I was doing.

JL moo luxeWhat did you create for the Luxe Project?
My collection for Moo uses a selection of my Daily Drop Caps, transforming the original artwork into sophisticated monograms by switching the complex original color palettes to two-color. I chose letters that I thought would appeal to many people—sometimes the letters I created for Daily Drop Cap specifically referenced something I was doing that day and wouldn’t work as stationery monograms— and tried to pick gender neutral letterforms when possible. The letters are integrated into simple but beautiful designs which could work for anyone, be they a designer or just a lover of letters. I used the typeface Router—which I love—made by a type design friend Jeremy Mickel.

What led you to select the ASPCA to receive all net proceeds?
I adopted my two cats from the ASPCA in New York and just love what they do to put misplaced animals in good homes. I’m a huge animal lover—it’s embarrassing how much I dote on my two cats—and love supporting an organization that obviously cares so deeply about animals.
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Seven Questions for Giulio Iacchetti

noe gi
noe alessiMore than 10,000 people visited WantedDesign, which wrapped up on Monday at New York’s the Tunnel. A highlight among the more than 60 exhibitors was Italian design powerhouse Alessi, which presented projects stemming from research and workshops the company has conducted in collaboration with several young designers around the world. Veteran Alessi designer Giulio Iacchetti was on hand to showcase his new “Noè” collection of wine accessories. The name is a nod to the biblical patriarch. “Noah is not just famous for building the ark, but also for his passion for wine,” says Iacchetti, who is based in Milan. “And it is said that he invented it after being the first to experiment with vine cultivation.” We popped open a bottle of bubbly—with the aid of his bottle-shaped opener—and asked him seven questions.

Giulio IacchettiWhat was the concept for the Noè set?
The inspiring concept for these objects designed to serve and preserve wine comes by a strong formal reference to existing wine imagery, so the bottle holder refers to a cluster of grapes, the Champagne stopper recalls those corks used to hermetically seal Champagne bottles, the shape of the Champagne cork opener is inspired by the outline of a bottle, and finally, the drop-stop ring is truly the engagement between us and wine!

What has distinguished your collaborations with Alessi from those with other companies?
When I think of Italian design and design companies, I think immediately of Alessi. Alessi could be really considered the “dream factory”—as Alberto Alessi defined his company years ago—for its exceptional capability to combine real industrial productivity with the openness to collect in its catalog many different products categories. Every time I go to Crusinallo [Alessi headquarters], I personally live a life-long dream.
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Seven Questions for David Weeks

SalverDuo300dp
Works from the Salvers Collection, on view through June 20 at David Weeks Studio. A second set of the Salvers debuts today in Paris as part of the “American Design in Paris” exhibition at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture.

You probably know David Weeks for his stunning lighting, fluidly formed furniture, or craggily adorable wooden creatures. Last fall his studio branched out from Brooklyn to Manhattan, with a new standalone atelier in Tribeca that is part design studio, part showspace for one-of-a-kind prototypes, collaborations, and work from other artists. It is currently home to a month-long exhibition of the Salvers Collection, designed in conjunction with Alex Rasmussen from Neil Feay Company. Weeks made time to tell us more about the project as well as his new collaboration with Flavor Paper (spoiler alert: gorillas are involved!), what’s on his desk, and the best advice he’s ever received.

david weeksHow are things at your new Tribeca space? Has having a standalone atelier affected your creative process/output/how you spend your day?
Things are great! Challenging, exciting, exhausting. We had run the numbers before I decided to open a dedicated showroom and they are playing out as planned. I didn’t plan on the level of focus and complexity that it has ended up taking. To have a public venue while running a design and manufacturing company is hard. It’s also exhilarating and fun to be in control of my own destiny.

How did your collaboration with Alex Rasmussen come about?
I met Alex a year ago, and we discussed collaborating almost immediately. He has such a phenomenal facility at his beck and call at Neal Feay. It’s hard to imagine.

How would you describe the six unique designs in the Salvers Collection?
The collection ended up being a reaction to what his CNC [Computer Numerical Control] machine could do. I designed my pieces using the stock material and cutters they had on hand, and tweaked the jigs that hold the piece to the machines. The great thing about CNC to me is that it will do whatever you tell it. There is no need to make things at right angles. It’s an opportunity to visualize a unorthodox form, draw it, and have a huge industrial machine create it.
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Seven Questions for Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott

avianca id
Lippincott worked to unify the brands of merged airlines Avianca and TACA. The three-year project culminated in the recent unveiling of a bold new visual identity.

rick wiseWith a client list that includes 3M, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt, Samsung, Starbucks, and Walmart, Lippincott has spent the last seven decades combining strategy and creativity. (The recent brand face-lifts of Stanley and eBay? All Lippincott.) At the helm of the firm, which is part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is Rick Wise, who oversees innovation in Lippincott’s design and strategy practices while also advising clients on their branding issues. The Wharton alum made time to chat with us about some recent Lippincott projects as well as his branding pet peeve, what’s on his desk, and why the Taj Mahal never gets old.

Lippincott turns 70 this year. How are you celebrating?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating by both looking back on how the industry has evolved, honoring the moments Lippincott has influenced and the iconic brands we built, as well as looking ahead to what the next 70 years will bring. For instance, in May of this year, we designed “Pencil to Pixel” in collaboration with Monotype—an exhibit documenting the past, present and future of typography. As part of this, Lippincott developed an exhibit of its own—curating artifacts and designs throughout our history. As part of that we also moderated a roundtable discussion on the future role of design and brand expression with executives from Coach, Warby Parker, Virgin America, Chipotle, and eBay.

Tell us about a recent Lippincott project that you are particularly proud of and why?
We are very proud of the work we did for Avianca, the Latin American airline formed by the merger of Avianca and TACA airlines. We worked hand in hand with Avianca for three years to create a new unified brand, developing the new logo, aircraft livery, plane interior, visual system and frequent flyer program. It’s a really beautiful system for an airline that aspires to be the regional leader. But what we’re most proud is our work helping build a unified brand from the inside out—making sure the cultures were aligned, the employees were energized, and most importantly the customer experience could live up to the promise of a unified pan-Latin American airline.

As a specialist in brand strategy, what brand (aside from your current or past clients) would you single out as an emerging brand to watch?
I’m a huge music fan, and it’s been really interesting to watch the growth of Beats by Dr. Dre. It’s pretty amazing to see the brand they have created in just a few years, focusing on the overall music experience. They have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook by focusing on innovation delivered in great packaging and design, and took a product many thought might be obsolete and made it relevant again.
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Seven Questions for Diana Vreeland Biographer Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

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Cecil Beaton described her as “an authoritative crane” or “some extraordinary parrot,” while Nicky Haslam likened her presence to “a sock in the jaw.” Both were referring to the fashionable force of nature that was Diana Vreeland (1903-89), the subject of Amanda Mackenzie Stuart‘s Empress of Fashion, out Tuesday in paperback from Harper Perennial. The dazzling biography delves into the origins of Vreeland’s genius as it follows her from an ugly duckling childhood in Paris and a self-imposed extreme makeover at the age of 14, through her tenure at Harper’s Bazaar, at Vogue, and at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“There were imagination and fantasy in fashion before Diana,” says Stuart (pictured below). “What she did, indefatigably, and from a position of great influence at Vogue, was to assert the authority of the imagination—and the idea of possibility that galloped along beside it.” We threw on our most exotic caftan, streaked on the rouge, and managed to narrow our questions for Vreeland’s Oxford, England-based biographer down to an elegant seven.

AM StuartWhen/how did you first encounter Diana Vreeland?
I’m British and live in the UK so I was only vaguely aware of Diana Vreeland before I started writing a different book, about Consuelo Vanderbilt and her mother Alva (Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Mother and a Daughter in the Gilded Age, HarperCollins, 2005). Before my research for that book, and like a number of people now I think, I knew something about DV without being quite sure why. I wasn’t quite sure what she did, but I did have a blurry image of a snood, a dash of brilliant red lipstick, and an achingly hip granny who ran ’round town with Andy Warhol. Quite terrifying, in other words.

At the very end of my research for the book about Consuelo, I discovered that Diana Vreeland had long been fascinated by her story and her style and had included her in the Costume Institute exhibition in 1976 called “American Women of Style.” So that was the point at which I first properly encountered DV.

Was there a particular aspect of her background or a finding in your initial research that convinced you to proceed with a biography?
Well, when I was writing the Consuelo book I should have been a very self-disciplined biographer and stopped myself from going off-piste for days on end. I should have allocated no more than half a day’s research, or maybe one day maximum, to the curator of an exhibition in which Consuelo appeared twelve years after her death. But it didn’t work out like that. I became completely distracted by DV, who was very funny, and, at first glance, not unlike Consuelo’s mother. (On second glance she wasn’t like her at all, but that’s another story.)
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Master Class: Seven Questions for Melanie Courbet, Founder of Atelier Courbet

Courbet Interior Shop
(Photos courtesy Atelier Courbet)

Melanie Courbet PortraitNew York’s latest design destination is Atelier Courbet, a new gallery and shop that brings together exquisite objects, furniture, textiles, and home accessories handpicked for their sublime old-school craftsmanship. In an age of touchscreens and disposable everything, many of these one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces combine traditional techniques with contemporary design. “Our intention is to highlight the revered talent behind every object,” says founder Melanie Courbet, who convinced renowned craftsmen Domeau & Pérès to make their stateside debut at Atelier Courbet. “We would like to inspire our clients to curate their home and their lifestyle based on the appreciation of the material and the details of their environment.” We asked Courbet to tell us more about the new venture, including its home in the historical Brewster Carriage House (located at the corner of Broome and Mott Streets) and some of her favorite straight-from-the-workshop pieces.

Why did you think that it was the right time to open this gallery and shop?
It was the right time in my life as I matured for seven years my relationships with most of the manufactures or craftsmen I represent today. On another note, I believe my desire to shift the focus to the master-craftsmanship over the design or creative aspects is a response to a context. Our market—like our global culture—shows a shift in the consumer’s behavior. There is a general trend at different levels of consumption that reflects a global desire to nurture a sense of community and connect with the makers behind our belongings or the goods we consume. Brand equity is now often built upon emotional connections with the provenance, a sense of cultural heritage and traditions. I hope for Atelier Courbet to convey that story and to allow for our clients to find that connect with each handmade piece presented.

What qualities unite the designers and companies represented at Atelier Courbet?
Atelier Courbet selects and represents master-craftsmen based on their abilities to fabricate for the contemporary art or design scene while carrying on a heritage, discipline and centuries-old techniques.

Atelier Courbet 1How did you come upon the Brewster Carriage House? Why did the building appeal to you?
It’s my friend’s building. He and I have similar visions and passions. It sounded natural and such a great fit for a gallery and shop focusing on master-craftsmanship and heritage to set the stage in a building that has that incarnation.

The Brewster Carriage Building goes back to the mid-nineteenth century when it used to house the famous carriage makers’ workshop. We kept the boilers doors as well as a carriage that was made here by the Brewster Company’s workers. Ross Morgan and I would like to make this corner a destination that stages both the heritage of the building, the neighborhood and selected centuries-old manufacturers from around the world. The Atelier Courbet and the Brewster Carriage Corner will become both a design gallery and a lifestyle shop.
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