Amy Astley

IT TAKES A SHELTER TITLE TO RAISE MONEY FOR A VILLAGE: Architectural Digest is partnering with San Francisco-based nonprofit start-up New Story to build a 100-home village in Haiti. On Monday, the Condé Nast shelter title hosted a breakfast at The Guild, the new restaurant/home goods store from interior design duo Roman & Williams in New York’s Lower Manhattan, to promote the initiative.

“I believe in the power of art and design and beauty, and certainly in the importance of home. But I just felt like we have to stand for something else,” said Architectural Digest editor in chief Amy Astley“I want the idea of design making a difference — not just in the lives of the lucky people whose homes we photograph — to become part of the DNA of AD.” 

The initiative, which launched in December, is set to coincide with the theme of the February issue: “Design Making a Difference,” and, as Astley made sure to tell the crowd, will be featured on all of AD’s platforms, which include social media, online and print. 

Over yogurt decorated with citrus segments and croissants served on ceramics in muted colors, New Story cofounder Brett Hagler pitched what was repeatedly referred to as “the design community” on the opportunity to make the world a better place and build a house for a Haitian family — for just $6,500 a pop. 

“Some of you might see me up here and think ‘what a good little boy, starting a charity. He must have always been like this.’ Quite the opposite, actually,” Hagler, who was named to Forbes list of 30 under 30 in 2016, when he was 22, said. “That could not be further from the case. I actually lived a pretty self-consuming lifestyle, before this, chasing after what I call the three Gs. And that didn’t include gratitude and generosity.”

But pursuing “girls, gold and glory,” Hagler said, did not prove fulfilling. So he decided to create a charity. Gina Sanders, venture partner, Advance Venture Partners, and adviser to Y Combinator, became involved with the organization after meeting Hagler during a visit to Y Combinator, the start-up accelerator located in Mountain View, Calif.

“When Amy came to AD, it just clicked that this would be a wonderful partnership,” she said.

An attendee interrupted Sanders to say that the pitch was working. “I’m doing one house, I may do more. I’m so excited,” the passing attendee exclaimed. Another said she had already funded half a house, and planned to fund the other half shortly.

According to Astley, who jumped over to AD from Teen Vogue nearly two years ago, funding goodwill projects is part of her vision for Architectural Digest’s future.

“Showing that design can make a difference in the world, and how important home is — that’s ultimately what it’s all about,” Astley said. “And trying to humanize us, too.”

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