As the founder of Veranda magazine and Southern Accents magazine as well as the author of Veranda: The Art of Outdoor Living and The Houses of Veranda, Lisa Newsom has become a beloved figure in the interior design industry. This month, the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) will recognize her for those contributions with the Philip Trammell Shutze Lifetime Achievement Award at the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta on February 21.
We caught up with Newsom to find out what she considers some of her biggest triumphs and challenges throughout the years as well as what she’s most proud of, and what she’s up to now.
How did you feel when you were told you would receive the Lifetime Achievement Award?
Shutze to me is one of the greatest classical architects and has greatly influenced my career. I knew him well, and was very privileged to know him. My first issue and last issue in publishing both covered his Swan house.
What was your goal when you first began working in the industry years ago?When I started Veranda with the former art director of Architectural Digest Chuck Ross, my goal was to have a magazine that I wanted to read.
Have you met that goal?
I think we did. Design has changed so much, but the magazine still stands up. You look at the covers and are amazed at the design that is out there today. I still read and enjoy Veranda.
What is something that you are always trying to improve?
My knowledge of the world and nature.
What are you inspired by, and how has that changed over the years?
I’m mostly inspired by the quality of everything around us. I’m so happy our new Southern designers are being recognized for the great things they’re doing.
How has your perspective of the magazine world changed over the years?
I think because of all the online magazines and social media, readers are more sophisticated and are expecting more from printed magazines.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my family and friends and the way the design world has contributed to the beauty and quality of the world. I’m so proud that I was a part of it.
What has been the biggest challenge for you?
Having four children—balancing that with working, and just being able to survive personally and professionally.
What has been the biggest triumph?
Joining the Hearst Corporation. [Hearst purchased the magazine in 2002.] The company hadn't bought a magazine in 15 years. Being able to work with Kathy Black, who was president at that time, and to be able to become friends with the other editors and to be able to be in a corporate situation [was a triumph]. They were so important to me and they honored the magazine in a great way.
Is there anything you regret doing, or not doing?
I look back and I don’t think we gave enough space to architects. I don’t think any of the magazines do. So often, you see a beautiful house and you don’t see the outside. Sometimes that was a challenge to make the exteriors and interiors work, and I think if I could, I would have done more of the exteriors.
If you could change anything about the path of your career, would you?
No; I was very fortunate to be surrounded by great people and great designers featured in Veranda.
If you hadn’t gone into editorial, what do you think you’d be doing?
As a child and a younger adult, I loved fashion. That’s what I thought I would end up doing, but I love interior too. They are so closely related. I was actually trained as a medical technologist, and then when I got married, I started taking on a love of the arts.
What are you up to now?
Traveling. [At the time of this interview, Newsom was getting ready for a two-week cruise to Australia.] I’m enjoying being retired. I have four children and 10 grandchildren, so they certainly keep me busy. I have all the great design magazines on my iPad and I’m still reading them every day.
The 9th-annual Philip Trammell Shutze Awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, February 21, at 6 p.m., at the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta. Tickets are $130 for members and $175 for non-members. Coat and tie required.