They are wordsmiths who skilfully conjure atmospheres and beautiful décors on the pages of world-renowned magazines; and they all share a deep passion for design… Usually, they are the ones who ask the questions. This time, it’s our turn!
Meet Dan Rubinstein, Home & Design Director at Departures Magazine
Can you recall your first memory about “design”? (a piece of furniture, a book, an exhibition, your home…)
My grandparents had a humble but very put-together apartment in New York City with a set of mid-century, lacquered veneer furniture in their living and dining rooms. They probably bought it in the mid-sixties, not long after they moved to the States. It had wonderful details and gave the apartment a sense of style that influences me to this day. Their dining chairs were upholstered in a striped, multicoloured velvet that I just loved. Every time someone shows me a cut velvet sample, I think of those chairs and all the amazing home-cooked meals I had in that apartment. My grandmother made Austrian desserts like a pro. I still have the major living room pieces in storage.
Why did you choose this career, and what do you like the most about it?
I’d like to think design chose me. I had at least half a dozen internships and jobs in media before someone asked if I was still looking for an assistant job at a print magazine. Soon thereafter, I was lucky enough to start as assistant to the design editor, Mayer Rus, at the American edition of House & Garden. I was there for three years; I owe so much to Mayer and the incredible team I was able to learn from there. One of the reasons I love covering design is that it’s a way of studying the world around you. If you want to learn about what a king valued or what he was afraid of, study his castle’s walls. Want to know more about a country’s economy? Study what people wear. Surrounding myself with design allows me to never stop learning.
If you could go back in time, which designer and/or architect would you love to interview?
There are so many. In a more contemporary way, I would have loved to meet Italian designer Achille Castiglioni. He didn’t just create beautiful, iconic things, but did so in such a thorough and considered way. Going further back, perhaps Britain’s Prince Albert, who was married to Queen Victoria. He’s such a fascinating character in the country’s history, and his impact on design, connoisseurship, and the modern world was enormous. And if my time machine were truly top-notch, I would visit whoever conceived the Great Pyramid of Giza. Or maybe arrange a Q&A between that person and Prince Albert? Both of them clearly shared a love of building great things.
Your favourite motto about design?
“There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.” —Charles Rennie Mackintosh
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