It’s been less than a year since Whitney Robinson took over as editor in chief of Elle Decor and, of course, he’s working to make his mark on the magazine.
Next month will be the first “A-List” under Robinson’s leadership and the annual roundup on the world’s best designers will not only be the most extensive ever, with 131 designers included compared with last year’s roughly 90, but it will offer up a more expansive and diverse look at the design world.
“It’s about celebrating everyone in the design world doing cool things,” Robinson said. “Historically, the ‘A-List’ has been about the grand masters, and we’re still celebrating them, but design, for me, should be reflective of the time and place we’re living in.”
And today, there’s a lot of conversation in media around diversity and inclusiveness and cultural constraints on certain groups of people. Robinson wants Elle Decor to be a part of that, because design is certainly not an industry immune from cultural ills.
“We’re going to celebrate design, no matter where it comes from, and I think that’s different from what you would have seen here before,” Robinson said. “I’m calling this year’s group of designers ‘The Cerulean Blues’ — yes, it’s a reference to that movie — because they’re people whose work has trickled down and has impacted the entire world of design.”
The way the designers will be featured in the magazine is also new, thanks to the difficulty of getting all of them in the same place at the same time for a photo shoot. Each is being represented in a photo shoot by their own Doob, basically a 3-D printed figurine that looks something like claymation, which certainly works to counter any stuffiness that may have come through in “A-List” issues of yore.
But it’s not just the list that’s getting a makeover. Robinson is welcoming a string of monthly contributors, too. Former W editor Claudia Mata will be covering jewelry; Cara Barrett and Stephen Pulvirent of watch web site Hodinkee will be writing about watches; Jane Larkworthy, another former W editor, will be the in-house beauty authority; Melissa Biggs Bradley, who was a long-time travel editor at Town & Country and went on to found travel blog Indagare, will cover travel, and Adam Sachs will cover modern food and simplified recipe contributions by famed chef Daniel Boulud. Elle Decor also has a new publisher in William Pittel, who started in February after working as advertising director for Architectural Digest.
Robinson is hoping to keep Elle Decor as the authority on all things design in all of these industries, but admitted that he “didn’t invent any of that coverage.…It’s been here since the beginning.”
“We want to represent the most beautiful and exquisite design and talent in the world, but make it accessible,” Robinson said. “I want everyone to know they’re invited to the party and [design] is a community that wants people [to feel welcome.]”
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