“Each time we work with a pop-up editor, we're taking one more step out of the comfort zone of what we do all the time,” said Newell Turner, editor-in-chief House Beautiful and editorial director for the Hearst Design Group.
Back in June, House Beautiful announced for the first time in its history that a series of “pop-up” guest editors would be stepping in to collaborate on select issues alongside Turner and House Beautiful's executive editor Shax Riegler, starting this fall.
The first issue to feature a guest editor was the October “travel-inspired” issue with House Beautiful’s editor at large Chesie Breen. Breen’s issue spotlighted Americans' homes abroad, taking readers to three major European cities along with a sojourn in the French countryside.
Interior designer Charlotte Moss is up next—collaborating with the team on the November entertaining issue, themed "The Arts of Living," which will include special sections devoted to subjects that Moss is passionate about, including home fragrance and gifts that give back. Exclusive bonus online content includes Moss’ "best music for entertaining" playlists, great wines to savor and inspiring books.
From left: November 2013 cover and cover designed by Moss which appears on the first page of the issue
“Chesie Breen is our editor at large and contributes ideas to the magazine all the time. She knows us well—what we have to deliver in each issue. But the October issue was the first time I let someone not on staff work so closely with us to conceive and package an entire issue. We've never let someone from outside our regular magazine world guide and influence and produce an issue with us—and it's been fantastic collaborating with both Chesie and Charlotte.”
This reporter talked with both Turner and Moss to dig a little deeper into this concept and find out who else will be “popping-up” in the future.
Newell Turner and Charlotte Moss
Newell, what makes Charlotte a great choice for guest editor?
NT: Charlotte is more than just one of the leading interior designers of our time— she's a tastemaker among all the greats of the present and past. I've seen her captivate audiences with her insight and wisdom. She connects with people in a way that I knew would bring special meaning to this issue of House Beautiful. The magazine still looks like House Beautiful, but it's spiced and stirred and infused with her passions and interests.
How is working with a designer as an editor different than working with a journalist?
NT: There's not a lot of difference, because both designers and journalists do basically the same thing in that they make something bigger out of pieces—furniture and accessories become a room, words and pictures become a story. Great designers and journalists create something special in how they put it all together.
What did she bring to the issue that surprised you?
NT: I love the way Charlotte wanted to push the boundaries of the printed page...not simply with new technologies but with one of our oldest tools: the written word. She reminded us of the power of the word to move and evoke the senses.
Charlotte, how did you approach this task and where did you begin?
CM: The staff at House Beautiful is very organized so the mechanics were all in place. What we first had to establish was a theme for my issue. When Newell asked me, my answer just rolled right out, as if I had been thinking about it for years. I felt pretty strongly that we should be thinking about life after decorating during the entire time we are doing the decorating. How are we going to LIVE in those rooms, how are they going to work, be inviting, have pizzazz, be sexy, have atmosphere. Naturally, the arts of living became my theme—inviting spaces that looked good, smelled good, felt fabulous, said 'come on in and stay awhile, have a drink, read a book, let's cook up a meal'—whatever it is, it’s about a home which is pleasing on every sensory level, and one where everyone wants to be.
What was your favorite part of the process?
CM: My favorite parts [plural] you mean—because there were many! I love the collaboration, and I liked hearing about what the readers expect from the magazine. I also loved the enthusiasm and knowledge of the staff. I always enjoy learning something new, about how the process works, and pushing myself to think about alternative ways of doing things.
What was the most challenging part?
CM: Frankly, it was containing myself. Whittling down the list of ideas, and not being able to include more designers was certainly a challenge. It was an embarrassment of riches, if you can call that challenging.
What did you learn about being a magazine editor? Is it something you'd like to do more of or in a greater capacity?
CM: I have so many friends who are editors that I think I have learned a lot by osmosis. Great editors are wired into what is happening, their radar is always on, and they know how to make a story. I love being an editor. In fact, our day jobs as designers require us to be editors for other people. A dream job for me would be to write, photograph, and style, which I do on my website and have also done for the Wall Street Journal. There are certain things we all know about ourselves, our strengths, our shortcomings, and while I have my share of the latter, I am also intensely curious and a voracious reader. I love exploring and pushing myself to learn new things, I think one of the most important things you can do in life is to keep your options open.
Newell, who else can we expect to “pop-up” in the future?
NT: We are excited to announce the Sara Ruffin Costello will be next in our Pop-Up Editor series; we are working with her right now on the February 2014 issue.
House Beautiful’s November issue—“The Arts of Living”—hits newsstands Tuesday, October 22.