From Stodgy to Stylish? The Shake-Up at Architectural Digest

From Stodgy to Stylish? The Shake-Up at Architectural Digest

Catrin Morris
Feb 8, 2011

In the 1980s, Architectural Digest reigned supreme as the patriarch of upscale interior design magazines (I say patriarch in part because the magazine stood out among its peers for having a readership that was nearly 50% male). But the old man is now getting an injection of youth and vigor. Not that the new editor, Margaret Russell, is exactly a newbie upstart; she has been at Elle Decor for two decades. If the March issue — the first under Russell's leadership — is any indication it may be time to give Architectural Digest another look.

A recent New York Times article on the regime change at Architectural Digest explains that what was once glamorous and aspirational had become stale and stodgy. This is indeed my perception after years of casually flipping through the magazine at doctor's offices or in friends' homes. It was all nouveau riche opulence: faux-rustic chalets in Vail and gold-encrusted bedrooms with silk sheets and miles upon miles of chintzy fabrics. AD had become a magazine about ostentatious wealth and celebrity more than about style, design or beauty.

Already the magazine feels more stylish, modern and youthful, "tweaked…for a 21st century reader," according to the Times. Russell's remodeling plans include a revamping of the magazine's Internet presence. "Our biggest project is the Web site. That reader is a different reader, and for them we can be so much more service-oriented," she told the Times. Russell insists this is an "evolution" not a "revolution", with the magazine's core mission intact ("AD is still a dream book: it's about the dream of living well."). All I know is that searching the AD website for stylish images to accompany this post I did not have to look far. This would not have been the case in the past.

Images: February and March 2011 issues of Architectural Digest.

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