To launch a magazine is a huge achievement. To do so and make it go on to have a cult following, and win numerous awards takes a special combination of talent, passion and dedication. Enter Deborah Needleman. After starting life as a picture editor, then taking a turn to write about gardens and design for the likes of The New York Times, Deborah was then appointed editor at large for USA House & Garden. From there she launched the much-loved domino in 2005 as its editor in chief. Deborah also authored Domino: The Book of Decorating, which not only contains the best of domino's interiors images but is a fantastic resource that I return to again and again. The images above are of her homes in Manhattan and upstate New York.
Which five words best describe you? According to my eight-year-old son: jolly, sometimes grumpy, normal, funny, smart — but not as smart as daddy.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first real job was as photo editor of the Washington Post Magazine. The staff was so small that part of my job was producing the special issues — the special editions on food, fashion, and home design. I fell in love with seeing how people made their homes. My path has definitely been meandering though. I’ve just followed my interests and tried to find work doing things that I enjoy. I’ve worked as a photographer, a gardener, a writer, and an editor.
What's your proudest career achievement? The team we built at Domino magazine. It was a collection of the most talented, wonderful, kind and hilarious people ever. We never made a space for someone who might have been gifted but was difficult or tricky.
What's been your best decision? So boring to say, but hitching my life up with my husband’s. Everything good has come from his belief in me.
Who inspires you? People with great style who live easily and happily with it. Many seemingly stylish people are pretty awful — fussy and uptight. But I am interested in style that is expansive, that makes lives more beautiful and the people in your life happier. This goes back I guess to the team we put together at domino: I am really inspired by many of the people there like Rita Konig, Dara Caponigro, Sara Costello, Stella Bugbee. I am also really inspired by women who are focused, smart and accomplish a lot while never becoming one of those scary businesswomen, if that makes any sense.
What are you passionate about? Everything I do, including being lazy, which I excel at.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Whatever it is I’ve learned it so well I think I’ve always known it.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’m always happy to meet someone interesting, but I’m not sure I’ve ever longed to meet anyone in particular. I like people I know well. I didn’t know how to answer this question when it was on my college application either. That time I said Aristotle, but I was lying.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d like to be an entrepreneur for my next job. But really happiness is the only dream worth trying to fulfill.
What are you reading? Just finished the hilarious Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, and just starting Dangling Man by Saul Bellow. My husband gave me this business book called The Innovator’s Dilemma, which is the most genius soporific ever—I’ve been on the same page for weeks — I pick it up in bed and instantly fall asleep.
images courtesy of deborah needleman; manhattan apartment: melanie acevedo; domino office: lesley unruh