A look inside 'The Window' with Barneys New York's Design Director Edward Leida

A look inside 'The Window' with Barneys New York's Design Director Edward Leida
Barneys New York, the luxury specialty retailer, recently launched The Window, a print publication inspired by the successful editorial site, thewindow.barneys.com.   We chatted with Edward Leida, Design Director at Barneys New York, whose resume includes countless awards and accolades for his beautiful design and innovation art direction at W, Town & Country, Details, and Jane, about life outside of traditional magazine publishing and launching a new publication for the luxury retailer.

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A spread from The Window • click for larger view


The Window started as an editorial website and now has become a printed publication.  In creating and designing this project for the printed page, what were some of your goals and what did you hope to achieve?

Fortunately, the idea of innovation and setting ourselves apart is baked into the Barneys culture.  Historically, they have always been quite adventurous in their newspaper advertising, window displays and in the way they curate fashion.  It was only inevitable that The Window in the printed form would follow that very same tone and direction.  Initially I kind of tip toed into making it a little more adventurous and over time I got infinitely more adventurous.  Dennis Freedman has been my collaborator for many years and basically said "do what you do" and so when someone says that I know what it means.   We kid around and Dennis basically says "give it the treatment" and I know what that means.   

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While looking through the magazine, I can't help being reminded of the innovative and beautiful typographic work you created while at W.  The Window is filled with similar striking typographic openers.  Tell us how you approach the design and typography and "do what you do"
One of the things that has historically been part of my design mantra is that the words are just as important as the images.  I don't know why but I've always had this penchant for the written word. When the word and the picture come together there's an alchemy that inspires the type of creative exploration that I do.  


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There are a number of original fashion and still life shoots in the magazine.  What was your approach to the photography?
In the simplest of terms we realize that this is not a magazine -- it is a vehicle by which we want people to shop -- and we didn't really try to reinvent the wheel. 
Nothing too avant-garde was done because we wanted to have clarity for the end user so they could see the merchandise for the beautiful merchandise that it is .
We did enlist the help of Richard Pierce who has always been an interesting still life photographer. He's actually quite good at developing images that often have more than one item in them and we knew that some of the content in the book would benefit from having those kinds of juxtapositions -- a piece of jewelry next to a bag next to a shoe.  There wasn't a tremendous amount of time spent overthinking it. We really wanted to display the beautiful merchandise for what it is and not add another veneer that really doesn't exist
 


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How do you see the The Window evolving?
When one engages in the design or branding of a company you try to really think of the scope of what it is you're embarking on so that you're not retrofitting solutions and other designs into it as you go along. When the project finally got off the ground we had a relatively short period of time. My team and I really had to think about establishing a format who's underpinnings would not be transient in the long run, while still maintaining a contemporary feel and something which Barneys stands for.
I cannot speak to what will happen in the future. I can only say that a running thread for the next book and all the others to come is that you will always find some kind of compelling piece of editorial and perpetual surprise when it comes to the design of the pages. That's the way we're seeing it evolving and hopefully we can avoid anyone ever getting bored


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You've had a celebrated history in fashion magazines and have now transitioned your career to a fashion brand.   You're creating a somewhat similar product, but how does it differ?
I thought I left editorial forever and here I'm kind of coming full circle.  The thing that I think has happened is that for many years I was able to do work that catered to a very niche and targeted audience. That work was, in a way, crafted to a point where it didn't didn't come under the umbrella of most consumer commercial magazines. 
For a brief stint after leaving W I really I got a real sense of what the consumer magazine world was like, and I have respect for both of the experiences that I've had a prior to landing at Barneys. But up until that point I'd been fairly protected. 
At Barneys, our teams are constantly looking to produce the best and I think people have been empowered to do what they do best.  We strive for perfection and basically we achieve excellence.  Some people strive for excellence and they achieve something below that.
Being here has brought me back to the kind of work that I always did and liked to do because there was no compromise. Everybody wanted to be great and they allowed it to happen and people are like that here -- they're empowered to and given the power to do the best. 


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Is the process of creating the magazine much different from your previous experiences?
The most beautiful thing about it for me is that there are a few of us that came from an editorial background and there are there many others that have not.  I just love seeing those who have not engage and learn how a vehicle like this develops and the excitement that has been generated.  
A lot of the work we do here in terms of branding is shown to a few key people and a decision is made.  You don't really see things out on display until you see it in a newspaper advertisement, a special insert or the windows on Madison Ave.  But here we have a wall with all of the pages (minis) on it.  That wall is centrally located and is an organic thing that everybody gets to see.  It's been exciting to see people looking to see what's going to be up there next and seeing the photos as they come in.  Its something I grew up with as a designer and to be able to share that with others is just phenomenal.
 
The inaugural issue of The Window is exclusively available at Barneys New York flagship locations, for download on the Barneys New York iPad app and to view exclusive content from the first issue, visit thewindow.barneys.com.
 
  • Diego Bellorin

    Great work!

  • Tom O'Quinn

    Love this... amazing work.

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