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The Expert Podcast

Why “I Would Never Live Here” Is Amy Astley’s Favorite Feedback

Words by Laura Dahlgren
a woman with long blonde hair wearing a black shirt

Photography courtesy of Amy Astley

Amy Astley isn’t into gatekeeping.

“I really reject the idea that people won’t buy the print magazine because certain photos are already circulating online or on social media,” says Amy Astley, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, “Modern audiences want things on demand. Some people only read the magazine and never look at social media, other people only know us through Instagram. Our narrative is complete in all these places for different audiences to enjoy.”

In her time at AD, this trailblazer, who took over the reins of the centennial publication in 2016 and became Global Editorial Director in 2020, opened the door to a more inclusive industry and paved the way for disruptors and up-and-comers to have a seat at the table. This week, she sat down with Jake Arnold on The Expert Podcast. Join us as Amy talks with Jake about his recent cover, why travel is so important for creatives, and what’s driving the global design scene.

On ‘Good’ Taste

If there’s one thing Amy rejects, it’s the notion of unattainable design: “Ideas about taste can be very rigid and limiting,” she shares. “I’m much more interested in ideas about personality. It’s true in both fashion and home.”

On Shock Value

Amy loves a little unexpected delight: “I like to surprise people with AD,” says the Editor-in-Chief. “We had RuPaul on the cover in May standing in his parlor with disco balls hanging from the ceiling and nobody saw it coming. I like to keep things entertaining, fun, and lighthearted.”

a woman in a black dress posing for a picture
the front cover of architectural digest magazine

Photography courtesy of Amy Astley

Photography by Yoshihiro Makino; Design by Jake Arnold; Photography courtesy of Amy Astley and Architectural Digest

On Keeping AD Weird

“People tell me all the time, ‘That house is so odd’ or ‘I would never live there’ and I always want to respond ‘Well you don’t! So don’t worry about it’,” says Amy. She goes on to suggest looking beyond the conventional to continuously expand your horizons: “Being open to new ideas in architecture, in landscape design, and in interiors is everything. When things feel tired and played out—there’s usually a reason.”

On Feeling Good at Home

Coming out of the pandemic, Amy has taken note of a few trends that don’t appear to be going anywhere: “What’s important in design right now is that people just want to feel good at home,” she shares. She goes on to use John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s LA home (designed by Jake Arnold) as an example: “Their house is so loved because it exudes their personalities. People really respond to the curves, the soft lines, the warm fabrics, and the use of a muted color palette.”

On Getting Personal

Although the glamorous homes in the magazine’s well can stand on their own, Amy feels it imperative to show the famous faces behind the spaces. “Personality is everything,” she notes. “At the end of the day, AD is about people at home. They’re what makes the product sing. When I say Gwenyth’s house or Drake's house or Dakota Johnson’s house, that recognition snaps into place and people think ‘yep, I remember that one’.”

Listen to the full episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts now.