Day two of the Design Leadership Summit (DLS) opened on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower designed by Norman Foster, who members had heard from earlier in the conference. DLS co-host Kate Kelly Smith introduced the day’s program, which would include a presentation by Hearst Magazines president David Carey, an international editors panel moderated by HL Group partner Hamilton South, a moment of inspiration from Jamie Drake, a digital media panel moderated by Hearst Design Group editor-in-chief Newell Turner, and a presentation by Arianna Huffington.
Up first was Carey, who began with an overview of the company. Some of the magazine division’s most successful ventures include Food Network magazine and Oprah magazine, both of which are joint ventures. “During periods of change, the ability to partner is critical,” he said. “Partnerships are a great way to grow and expand your business. We love the partnership model at Hearst because we share the risk with someone. I’d rather own half of a successful business than an entire unsuccessful one.”
Other points included:
- Get rid of the “New York is the Mecca” idea. There are talented people all across the country, we can connect through technology and must capitalize on that. For the first time in the company’s history, Hearst is moving the entire staff of Country Living to Birmingham, AL, where its new editor in chief is based.
- Find ways to address “mobile blinders.” All products at the check out are in decline. Putting a product at the front of a store by the check out no longer makes it sell because people are looking at their phones instead of looking at the products.
- International markets are hungry for American brands. Incubate your brand first in the U.S. and then take it overseas to flourish.
- Have the instinct and ability to know good when you see it — that is the key to creativity according to Frank Bennack, executive vice chairman of Hearst Corporation.
- Read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.
Drake went on stage next and gave his “moment of inspiration.” He reflected his summer internship with Angelo Donghia in 1976, which largely shaped his career and aesthetic. He flipped through his slides of inspiration from the ‘70s, which he described as sex, drugs and disco. “Part of that is just to capture your attention because I like a bold look and a bold statement...the late '60s and early '70s were very much a pattern on pattern moment, which is kind of a mind-altering experience.” He explained that it was very much about hallucinogenic parties, and the environments supported that with dramatic lighting, bold graphic looks, and bed-like furniture.
Digging deeper into the topic of media and new digital platforms, South invited international editors to the stage for a discussion on how designers can get published.
From left: Lucia Van der Post, Michelle Ogundehin, Marco Velardi, Hamilton South
“We must provide inspiration, surprise and delight our readers,” said Michelle Ogundehin, editor-in-chief of Elle Decoration UK. “We must promote value, and it has to be so beautiful that we want to share it with the world. We are chopping trees down to feature you, so it has to be good.”
Lucia Van der Post, editor of the Financial Times’ How to Spend It magazine explained that she looks for a few qualities, from useful to beautiful. “Useful is important,” she said. “Sometimes you just need a good tea kettle that works.”
On how technology is changing the magazine world, Marco Velardi, founder and editor of Apartamento magazine, believes the medium doesn't matter. “If the content is inspiring, that’s the point,” he said. “Your magazine will be successful because of what’s in it.”
From left: Julie Carlson, Irene Edwards, Janel Labab, Newell Turner
Next, Turner introduced the digital media panel, which consisted of Apartment Therapy’s executive editor Janel Laban, Lonny’s executive editor Irene Edwards and Remodelista’s founder and editor in chief Julie Carlson.
Turner noted that all three of the editors have a background in print and traditional media. “Coming from a magazine that’s 117 years old, you’re the old girl in the room and you’re always like ‘how do you keep her interesting, fresh and pretty and how do you keep her engaged with the consumer?’ It’s an interesting thing to think about and a lot of you should think of your businesses similarly.”
He pointed out that the panelists are digital media but they’re no longer the new kids on the block. “You are the establishment now, whether you want to say that or not.” Then, he posted the question of what is disrupting their world right now?
Laban answered that social media has been wonderful for them. Pinterest, for example, drives 7.5 million viewers per day to Apartment Therapy images. The flip side is that small changes Pinterest makes can dramatically affect their traffic overnight. She noted that when Pinterest moved the ‘popular’ section from in the front to a side bar, it made a huge negative impact. “But it’s ok. It’s fun and wonderful, but you have to stay on top of it and constantly be pivoting.”
Edwards said that she felt the flip-book format is starting to feel a bit old school and antiquated. “I welcome the opportunity to develop a new way of telling stories online,” she said. “And so that’s what my bosses and I are looking at for 2014. We’ll see if we can make it happen. We could possibly fail. But the whole Silicon Valley idea of failure not being shameful is something we keep in mind.”
Check back for more coverage of the DLS coming next week. Related articles: DLS Recap: Norman Foster and Paul Goldberger, DLS Recap: Innovations in technology and design, DLS Recap: Bunny Williams interviews Oscar de la Renta, DLS Recap: Icons of art and culture, DLS Recap: Aby Rosen, Tom Sachs & William Georgis