By Katy B. Olson
Change is afoot at domino. There's a new 5,000-square-foot office in midtown Manhattan, outfitted with a full video production and photography studio; a second book, published by Simon & Schuster; and a first-ever licensed collection, a millennial-targeted bedding collaboration with The Company Store—and now a newly-appointed CEO, Nathan Coyle. He brings extensive experience in digital publishing and media earned as EVP at Refinery29, where he led business development and video strategy and created the site’s influencer initiative, Here&Now Collective. Before that, Coyle held senior posts at AOL/Cambio and Creative Artists Agency, where he helped establish the agency’s digital content practice.
At domino, Coyle joins a leadership team that includes CRO Beth Fuchs Brenner and editorial director Jessica Romm Perez, and he comes aboard during a particularly swell season. domino, which first launched in 2005 with Condé Nast, closed in 2009 and was revitalized four years later as a “shoppable digital destination” and quarterly magazine. In the years since the most recent reimagining, its revenue has grown by 500 percent, and this month surpassed a million registered users. Its e-commerce counts 20,000 paying customers, 30 percent of whom have made multiple purchases; and it offers those customers access to 600-plus sellers and 8,000 product SKUs. Advertisers include names like Apple, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Airbnb.
From the domino feature “At Home with Frances Merrill”; courtesy Laure Joliet
Part of Coyle's role, he says, will be leveraging that bevy of influential tastemakers, advertisers and editors. He shares with EAL where domino’s been and where it’s going under his new guidance:
What attracted you to the new gig?
domino is quite different from other publications; rarely is there a shot that doesn’t have people in it! [Other magazines often show] beautiful homes that are totally unpopulated with people and feel more like museums than a place to live. One of the ways in which we really differentiate—even going back to the 1.0 publication in the 2000s—is that it's about a lifestyle. Yes, it’s a beautiful home, but it’s inhabited by this fantastic designer, writer, editor, decorator or tastemaker of some kind. [For example], they’re doing a Fourth of July picnic shoot: What’s the cocktail they’re drinking? What’s the recipe? That full picture is one of the things about domino that really attracted me.
From the domino feature “Bold Color Pops & One Must See Kids Room”; courtesy Alyssa Rosenheck
What’s your view on the current state of the interior design industry?
While I’ve always been passionate about home and design, I have a lot to learn about the design industry. I come to this role with a deep knowledge base about digital media, publishing and entertainment. The good news is I have Jessica Romm to school me every day! I’m excited to go to High Point this year and am getting to know people very quickly.
What did you learn at Refinery29 and your other previous companies that you’ll bring to bear at domino? Any specific initiatives in mind?
From spending nearly four years at Refinery29, which has gone through an incredible period of growth both in audience and revenue, I’ve developed a very deep understanding of the dynamics of digital media and publishing. At domino, very quickly I’m looking to bring in some additional hires with areas of expertise to help drive, particularly, the digital side of our operation. The priority is to work with the editorial team and digital side to help drive growth.
From the domino feature “Beat Niche”; courtesy Brittany Ambridge
How will your focus be divided among the brand’s different footprints: print, digital, mobile, e-commerce?
Jessica has done an incredible job with the print publication. I was wildly impressed by Jess and her vision and her passion, the excitement and raw talent that she brings to what we’re doing. In that sense, Jess doesn’t need much supervision! You haven’t even seen the fall issue. It’s going to be absolutely gorgeous.
Looking into next year and beyond: There’s an opportunity for domino, because it’s such a powerful brand, to expand into other categories, [such as] food, entertaining, weddings. People love to get married in beautiful spaces! It all comes back to interior at the end of the day. One of the early initiatives is expanding the way in which we work with influencers and tastemakers in the design/decorating community. That’s something that’s a real heritage, a part of the DNA.
What are the immediate changes you’re planning to implement?
One, expanding and formalizing the way we’re able to work with influencers and tastemakers. Coming up with a real mechanism and framework for individuals not on our masthead, but who have created incredible content through various channels. Finding ways to—with utmost credibility, taste and elegance—help connect the dots between the advertisers and influencers. And two, helping expand the digital editorial team and the skillset that exists in that team to set us up for ongoing and ever greater audience acquisition and discovery.
From domino's feature “Living an Artist’s Life”; courtesy Michael Lucas
How did your interest in interior design originate?
It’s always been a passion of mine. It really manifested itself in a house I bought in Los Angeles in 2008. A 1960s modern glass box in the Hollywood Hills that isn’t of any particular provenance, it was not designed by a name architect, but it was built by a developer that had done a pretty impressive job of creating interesting and unique homes in the Hills in the ’60s. It was a complete fixer-upper.
If you can imagine, when I bought it, it had French molding, sponge painting, and the kitchen was just terrible. I went on this journey of reducing, reducing, reducing the house back to its minimalist roots. Clean lines, no trim. [Before moving to New York], that’s been the canvas where I’ve been able to express my passion and interest in design and furnishings.
What is domino’s greatest strength?
The equity that it has. As I was getting more serious about coming on board and taking this opportunity, I spoke to my nearest and dearest friends, professional colleagues and acquaintances, and I was completely excited by and delighted to see how passionate the reader is. Multiple friends of mine have texted me images of the summer issue on their coffee table!
Creating a brand in the publishing business is not an easy thing to accomplish. That underlying foundation of domino’s incredibly strong brand will help propel us into the future.