Yesterday we told you about designer Edward Leida‘s new website and provided a peek into his to-do list for 2009. Today we present the W design director’s wonderfully detailed answers to our seven questions. Read on to learn what beverage Leida (at right, in a photo by Art Streiber) begins his work days with, how he snagged a meeting with and subsequent job offer from Wilburn Bonnell, and what he’s giving this holiday season (someone special is getting a vintage model poodle kit). As if the Paul Rand anecdote he shares below wasn’t gift enough.
1. You’re trained as both an industrial graphic and graphic designer. How does this unique background affect your perspective/design work?
For as long as I can remember, I was interested in knowing how
things worked. I took apart almost every small appliance in our home and then proceeded to try to put them back together—I drove my parents crazy. This natural curiosity spilled over into graphic design, so over the course of my education and career, I guess you could say that I’ve been trying to get inside of a letter.
My first jobs out of school were for design firms that worked on
projects in collaboration with architects, and this allowed me the ability to work in two dimensions as well as three. I was afforded an opportunity to see how things were made beyond the realm of print. Over the years, I met great craftsmen and artisans, and their passion for their work was a tremendous source of inspiration and envy. These guys deeply influenced my life and career—functionality, innovation, and craft are the building blocks to each and every design endeavor I embrace now because of my exposure to both worlds. I’m very blessed.
2. Describe a typical day at work as design director of W.
There really is no such thing as a typical day at W, but I can tell you that my day begins with a large green tea that I get from our cafeteria and a morning visit to our “wall,” where all the layouts that are in the current issue are posted. I’ll probably look at the wall at least five to six times during the course of the day and try to think of ways of shaking up the look of the pages. I never want things to get stale.
There will be chats with my editor-in-chief, visits with my art
director, and plenty of music listened to during the course of my day. Levity is also a big part of our office routine, and imitations of the staff—including myself and interns—are encouraged. No one is off limits! Our creative director has been my collaborator for 23 years, and we meet often during the day to discuss the current and future issues of the magazine as well as story ideas. Fortunately for the both of us, we share similar interests and tastes, so our vision for W is a singular one.
3. How do you divide and conquer the task of designing W?
The fashion layouts are the pages that I design myself, but I oversee the design of the entire magazine. My able-bodied staff designs the front of the book as well as the features and special sections. The mantra I instill is “Go crazy. Have fun. Or else, why bother?”