Oprah may have declared the iPad one of her Favorite Things and gifted hundreds of the sleek slabs to members of her studio audience, but another famous first name’s media and retail empire has really put the device through its paces: Martha. And the Good Things keep coming: yesterday saw the launch of two new Martha apps (Whole Living Smoothies and an updated version of Martha’s Everyday Food), and the Society of Publication Designers recently declared Martha Stewart Living‘s “Boundless Beauty” the winner of its inaugural Tablet App of the Year award. The special iPad-based issue of the magazine includes an 180-degree virtual tour of Stewart’s peony garden (how many of the 22 varieties can you spot?), tips for planning a bubble-themed party that really pops, and a design showdown between decorating editors Kevin Sharkey and Rebecca Robertson. Accepting on behalf of Team Martha was Gael Towey, Chief Creative and Editorial Director for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Having overseen the company’s design and creative teams since its inception 20 years ago, Towey has worked to develop six different magazine titles and also left her distinctive stamp of classically elegant cool on MSLO’s product design, marketing, and packaging launches (including five different lines of paint!). On Friday, she’ll lead a session at the ABSTRACT Conference entitled “Magazine Brand as Platform for Development,” which we thought was the perfect platform for a quick interview.


Good Eggs Living’s Egg Dyeing 101 App (Photos: Marci McGoldrick)

1. You’ll be presenting this Friday at the ABSTRACT Conference in Portland, Maine. Can you give us a sneak preview of your talk?
I will be talking about building the Martha Stewart brand, the special magazine issue I’m currently working on about our first 20 years of “really” living, our magazine identity, and how content informs everything we do from merchandising to building new apps and digital magazines.

2. What is your greatest graphic design/publication design pet peeve?
Gratuitous design with no real relationship to the meaning or purpose of the story.

3. What do you consider your best or most memorable design-related encounter?
Meeting my husband, Stephen Doyle, in my office 24 years ago. I was looking for a someone to design Martha’s wedding book. How ironic, wrong designer for weddings…right husband.

4. What is your proudest design moment?
Publishing our first issue of Martha Stewart Living 20 years ago this year, and creating our first digital issue for the iPad last year.

5. What’s on your summer reading list?
Books about Turkey (the country)

6. What was the last film you saw?
Bill Cunningham New York

7. You have just received $100,000 that must be used for a single dream project. How would you spend it?
Cook up a reason to travel the world from a designer’s perspective and create a design travelogue blog.


Motion graphics by Erick Fletes