I’ve often written about the nature of style. And taste. And how you shouldn’t worry about right or wrong in either of these arenas, rather, what’s ‘good’ is simply what talks to you, and it’s folly to be distracted by the preferences or prejudices of others. Having said that, clearly this magazine is replete with a very distinct strand of taste that amounts to an acutely singular vision of contemporary lifestyle. And yet, I stand by my opening statement because I believe that the criteria for inclusion on these pages is founded in universal truths. In other words, we’ve made a commitment to feature only honestly made items that we believe to be beautiful, useful and that will contribute to a life lived well, as in comfortably, joyfully and with integrity, health and happiness. I believe too in paying attention to all the senses: smell, taste, touch, sound and vision. So it’s never just how something looks, it’s also about how it makes you feel, and respond too. Surfaces that thrill your fingertips, scents that stimulate or relax, sounds that soothe or things that speak of love or care in their making. And these attributes, surely, appeal to everyone?
But the notion of ‘universal truths’ obviously spreads much wider than your home front. I grew up with the phrase, ‘handsome is as handsome does’, ie, substance is more important than rhetoric, or to put it another way, character is more influential/impressive than personality. Many people are full of fine words, but they fail to follow through or actively live out their beliefs. This is also why, as a magazine, we endeavour to test, touch and see all of the products we feature. Admittedly, not quite to the extent of the venerable Good Housekeeping Institute, but certainly we never rely on a well-crafted press release alone as ‘proof’ of something’s intrinsic value. And it’s also why, although this is a slightly oblique segue, you might notice a change this issue in our news pages!
We used to divide the front of the magazine into three separate sections. First there were lots of lovely things to buy (Shopping), then great things to do (Now), followed by smart ways to live well (Living). But it occurred to me that in the wholehearted living of life, these things happen continuously and in glorious harmony, so that’s what we are now seeking to represent on our pages. The sections have all been mixed up together! But right at the front you’ll find Hot List, a new edit for the time-poor of the key things we recommend you make time for this month, from a must-see exhibition to the best new film. Then, we present our marvellous amalgamation of all things on-trend, beautiful, life-enhancing and spirit-lifting under the moniker of Life&Style. I want you to think of each volume of ELLE Decoration as your personal archive of everything you need to know in order to live better each month. Let me know what you think!
First published as my Editor’s Letter in the July 2013 edition of ELLE Decoration UK