Architectural Digest’s Paige Rense Noland to Retire; Search for New Editor Under Way

0603rense Architectural Digests Paige Rense Noland to Retire; Search for New Editor Under WayPaige Rense Noland, the legendary editor of Architectural Digest for the last 35 years, is retiring in August. The news was announced in a Condé Nast press release.

Maurie Perl, a Condé Nast spokeswoman, said that Ms. Rense was traveling today and would not be available to comment. She also said no replacement would be named over the next few days.

“We don’t have a replacement,” said Ms. Perl. “We’re starting a search now. We will find the right successor.”

The rumor mill has been churning for over a year that the 81-year-old Ms. Rense was close to retirement. It will be the second time this year that Mr. Newhouse will be able to select a new editor. Earlier this year, Stefano Tonchi was named the editor of W. 

When Ms. Rense took over as editor of the magazine in 1975, it had a circulation of 50,000. Today, the magazine’s circulation is over 850,000. Condé Nast purchased the magazine in 1993.

The shelter magazine sector has taken a massive hit over the last few years. After Si Newhouse folded Domino last January, Architectural Digest became the only shelter magazine that Condé Nast has left in its stable (Mr. Newhouse also shut down House & Garden in 2007).

Nevertheless, AD has been hurting.

Last year, Architectural Digest dropped a whopping 49.8 percent in ad pages, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. In the first quarter this year, it dropped 0.8 percent.

Who is going to be tapped to breathe new life into the 90-year-old magazine? It won’t be long before Deborah Needleman, the popular editor of the now defunct Domino, will emerge as one of the leading candidates to take over the magazine. (Ms. Needleman told us in March that she was building a commerce shelter Web site with Ken Lerer.)

Tom Wallace, the Condé Nast editorial director, will lead the search for a new editor.

Here is the press release:

PAIGE RENSE NOLAND RETIRES AS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF
ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

NEW YORK, NY, June 3, 2010 – Paige Rense Noland will retire this August from Architectural Digest, the magazine she has edited for almost 40 years and transformed from a niche trade journal into the world’s preeminent publication of design.  Ms. Rense Noland’s retirement was announced today by S.I. Newhouse, Jr., Chairman of Condé Nast. She will remain on the masthead as Editor Emeritus.
 
“Paige’s devotion to Architectural Digest is extraordinary,” Mr. Newhouse said.  “For years she has led her readers into a world of the finest architecture and design, inspiring both professions and pastimes. She has created a legendary magazine, and I am personally proud of the standards she has set.”
 
Ms. Rense Noland joined Knapp Communications working for Architectural Digest in October 1970 and became Editor-in-Chief in 1975.  While there she also became the founding editor of the magazine known today as Bon Appétit.  Condé Nast purchased Knapp Communications in 1993.  Ms. Rense Noland’s vision to remake Architectural Digest in the tradition of European art books with a focus on decorating, decorators, architects and their clients was swiftly embraced, and under her leadership, the magazine’s circulation grew from 50,000 to over 850,000 today with a total audience of nearly 5 million.
 
Over the years, Ms. Rense Noland has attracted a host of exclusive, high-profile homes to the pages of Architectural Digest, including an 18-page cover story on the White House of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan; Gore Vidal in Italy; Truman Capote in Bridgehampton; Julia Child in Cambridge; Robert Redford in New York; and the homes of Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Elton John, and Cher in southern California.
 
In 1990, Ms. Rense Noland introduced the coveted AD 100 list of top international architects and interior designers that is updated and published every few years.  To capture the abundance of exceptional talent and keep up with their avant-garde work, Ms. Rense Noland established additional themed issues, including The Architecture Issue, Before & After, Country Houses, Designers’ Own Homes, Exotic Homes Around the World, Hollywood at Home, and People & Places.
 
Upon the announcement of her departure, Ms. Rense Noland said, “I have enjoyed the privilege of editing this great magazine for several decades and now am excited to move on to my next chapter – writing a book that chronicles the remarkable life and career of my late husband, artist Kenneth Noland.”
 
In recognition of her contributions to journalism and design, Ms. Rense Noland has received numerous awards, among them: The Museum of Arts & Design Achievement Award (2006); American Academy of Achievement (2000); the Pratt Institute Founders Award (1997); and the Interior Design Hall of Fame (1985).  She has edited 12 books related to Architectural Digest, most recently Hollywood at Home and Private Views, is a frequent lecturer, and has hosted symposiums at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of the City of New York, as well as other cultural institutions around the country.  In 2007, she created Open Auditions to discover residential interior design talent.
 
Condé Nast is a division of Advance Publications. In the United States, Condé Nast publishes 18 consumer magazines, two trade publications and 27 websites.