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Inside The World of Interiors, Condé Nast’s Secret Weapon

“It’s just such a beautiful thing,” Mr. Read said, biased but not wrong.

The magazine’s readership is small, with a circulation of 55,000, but influential. It’s beloved by those in the creative and visual arts especially. Clare Waight Keller, the artistic director of Givenchy; Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s creative director, whose Paris apartment was featured in the December 2012 issue; Alessandro Michele, the fashion director for Gucci, who uses The World of Interiors as inspiration for his collections — all longtime readers. So are Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and the photographer Tim Walker.

Christopher Bailey, the president and former chief creative officer of Burberry, said that while The World of Interiors appeals to the fashion crowd, it’s not fashionable. “I’ve read magazines all my relatively grown-up life. And World of Interiors is the only magazine that I’ve kept and trooped around the world wherever I’ve lived,” he said. “There’s something about it that does not feel throwaway. It’s not trend-driven. It’s not of the moment.”

Those who work in magazines read The World of Interiors with a mix of appreciation and envy. In an age when editors of monthlies must compete, seemingly impossibly, with the daily dopamine hits of ’grams and memes and TikToks, The World of Interiors appears to occupy an earlier, more dignified era.

Founded in 1981, The World of Interiors now breaks every dumb rule of modern magazines. There are no celebrities on the cover (and rarely any inside). You don’t feel the hand of advertisers, publicists or digital panic on every page. The design is low-key, almost academic, without gimmicky typeface or colors pushed so that everything looks Disney fake. In fact, the photography is rather moody and in chiaroscuro tones, giving the empty furnished rooms a compelling, dreamlike quality.

The World of Interiors isn’t concerned with showing readers how to achieve such-and-such a look or selling an aspirational dream. Who expects to one day live in the Queen Mother’s former residence? Still, the magazine has never come across as snobby, because three pages after Clarence House can come, say, the house-turned-museum that an African-American couple, a poet and her postal-worker husband, built in Lynchburg, Va., in 1903 and decorated with recycled materials and great flair. Or an ice hotel in Sweden. Or a mobile home.

The magazine’s point-of-view is distinct, even wacky. And inventive: Though product pages typically consist of clip art on a white background, The World of Interiors will collect the latest fabrics and drape them across a farm field in the Cotswolds.


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