The editorial landscape for design looked a bit different when Suzanne Slesin entered the field in the early 1970s, though that would soon change. With an academic background in art history, Slesin embarked on a career in journalism by focusing on the questions her studies consistently came back to: How do taste and trends evolve, and how do passing time and changing perception play a role?
As a reporter for New York magazine and The New York Times home section, Slesin joined a rising wave of writers who were recasting the way publications explored the topic of design, thinking bigger about its cultural significance while making home decorating more accessible. By developing some of the first service pieces for consumers, along with features that tapped into the zeitgeist—including one pivotal cover story titled “The Great New Designed Restaurants: Is the Food as Good as the Design?”—she led the charge in opening up the conversation around the once-insulated realm of interiors.
“That really launched this whole idea that design is not a secret endeavor, but permeates all of the things that we do,” Slesin tells host Dennis Scully on the newest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “There was always a story to be looked at, and that inspired me my whole career to go out into the world, and not sit at a desk and hope it comes to me.”
With years of in-the-field reporting under her belt, Slesin was well positioned to assume a spot at the top of the masthead of some of the country’s most influential shelter magazines. She’d go on to helm the home sections of HomeStyle, House & Garden and Oprah’s O At Home before launching Pointed Leaf Press, now, nearly 20 years later, a top producer of books centered on design, architecture and fashion personalities.
In this episode of the podcast, Slesin shares stories about the designers who translate books into business, what it takes to get published today, and how journalism gave her a front-row seat to the rise and fall of the industry’s most influential design movements.
Homepage image: Suzanne Slesin | Antoine Bootz/Courtesy of Pointed Leaf Press