Design magazine editor Amanda Dameron: Dwell (New York)
What books does the editor of a high-profile modern home design magazine read? Designers & Books went to Amanda Dameron, editor in chief of Dwell, to find out.
“Last year I moved from the West Coast to New York, and I barely brought any furniture or clothes with me. What I did bring was 50 boxes of books and vintage magazines,” says Dameron. Her list for Designers & Books, “contains books that have seeded my design education, books that have contributed to my understanding of and appreciation for editing, and books that have simply delighted me.”
|Cover of Dwell, March 2013|
Designers & Books: You've made your mark as a writer and editor in design magazines. How did you get interested in design?
Amanda Dameron: My stepfather was a stained-glass artist and all-around maker who encouraged my love for and understanding of the relationship between aesthetics and utility. He was very knowledgeable about furniture, he was always building new things out of found materials, and he had many books about design. My mother loves interior design and the two of them were always conspiring about their next renovation project or moving furniture around. They also kept a subscription to Architectural Digest, which I would often thumb through.
D&B: Do you remember the first design book you read that had an impact on you?
AD: I loved looking through my parents’ collection of books on art glass, and I recall being very inspired by a book given to me in seventh grade about photography. Soon after, I learned how to develop my own film in a makeshift darkroom in our basement. Those books really helped me understand how to appreciate form and composition.
D&B: You mentioned to us that you were a binge reader when you were a child—that when you found an author you liked, you would read everything you could get your hands on by that author. Do you still read that way?
AD: Yes, though I usually binge on writers of fiction. Authors that come to mind: Pearl S. Buck, J. D. Salinger, George Saunders, David Sedaris.
D&B: Your first job out of college was at one of the oldest independent bookstores in Los Angeles. How did that experience shape your relationship to books?
AD: The bookstore was called Midnight Special, and each of the bookstore's eight employees had their own section of the store to buy titles for. My section included art, photography, architecture, and design, but I learned so much from my colleagues who handled sections like history, politics, and poetry. It wasn't until I worked there that I began to really understand the world, and my place in it. A lot of my preconceived notions were tested during that time, and I discovered a great many authors and subjects that I'd never even heard of before then.
|Bookcases in Amanda Dameron’s personal library|
|Bookcases lead to Amanda Dameron's desk at home|
D&B: You lead a magazine noted for its focus on modern design (its tagline is “At home in the modern world”). Do you have favorite books in your personal collection that focus on early designers or early periods?
AD: Yes, and my selections for Designers & Books reflect this. Two are The English House by Herbert Muthesius from 1904, and The Turkish Embassy Letters by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, which details buildings and places the wife of the American ambassador to Turkey visited during the first half of the 18th century.
D&B: Most of the books on your list are about design—and then there's the book about The New Yorker’s William Shawn and “the invisible art of editing.” You have an extensive background in both design and editing—do you see any similarities between the two fields?
AD: Absolutely! In both disciplines, the real artistry is often invisible to the naked eye.
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