Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Habitually Un-Chic Magazine: Architectural Digest

I have made it a point to try to always be positive on my blog but this week I'm having a hard time, especially after the news about House and Garden. While I would never negatively critique someone else's decorating style, I feel that in light of this week's discussion about shelter magazines in the comments section of my Say It Isn't So post, I am finally going to address my hatred of Architectural Digest.

Let me clarify that I only hate the American version. My firm has been featured in the German, French, and Spanish versions and they are all fantastic. So full of life and interesting interiors while the American version remains soulless and limpid. And what better place to illustrate this point than with the apartment of jeweler Nicholas Varney, Carleton Varney's son, that was featured in the December 2006 issue.

I've actually been inside this apartment for a party given by Nicholas' girlfriend at the time, who worked for gallery owner Larry Gagosian. My friend and I remember being very impressed with the color scheme and of course the art. It looks like it has changed a little since that night but what struck me about the Architectural Digest feature was how boring and flat they managed to make the place look. What's really weird is that I remember the main wall color in the photo below being bright green like the pole and not beige. They could have repainted it but I also wonder if they toned it down for the magazine.

I know it's very hard to shoot homes with so many windows due to lighting issues and the apartment does have amazing views of the Hudson River but it's almost like they focused on the view a little too much. There is so many wonderful works of art and interesting pieces in the apartment, it's such a shame that they didn't focus in on any of them or shoot any vignettes. Nicholas Varney is an amazing jewelry designer. Why is there not one shot of his designs anywhere? How about a few beaded necklaces in a pretty bowl? A ring on the nightstand? Anything, that would have added a lovely personal touch to the feature would have been a nice!

I know each shelter magazine has their own look and feel but I don't hear about anyone running out to the newsstand to look for the newest issue of Architectural Digest like they do with Domino, Elle Decor and the late House and Garden. There is nothing exciting about it. It doesn't teach you anything. They shoot homes the second they are finished being decorated and sometimes, right before the "for sale" sign goes up. Any sense of warmth or personality is wiped clean. We get a subscription delivered to the office but I've never seen anyone read it. The magazine goes straight to the bookshelf to die.

There have been rumors for a while that they were going to replace the editor-in-chief, Paige Rense, but so far no luck. Then it occurred to me today that not only does Architectural Digest desperately need a make over but I know exactly who they should hire to do it! Dominique Browning! She's available and if anyone has the ability to turn AD into an interesting and inspiring magazine, she does! Does anyone else second that idea???

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