HARPER’S BAZAAR DESIGN DIRECTOR, ELIZABETH HUMMER

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ELIZABETH HUMMER, DESIGN DIRECTOR TO LEGENDARY FASHION MAGAZINE HARPER’S BAZAAR, TALKS ABOUT HER CREATIVE INSPIRATIONS & HER LOVE OF FASHION & PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COOKING — MMM… PORK BUTT!
TEXT Paul Bruno

 

DIRTY: WHERE WERE YOU BORN?  WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?

ELIZABETH HUMMER: Born in Norfolk, Virginia — Dad was in the Navy.   But grew up in a cool, small town, Lititz PA, surrounded by farms in Lancaster Co.  Lititz has an awesome chocolate factory, Wilbur Chocolate — on some nights the town smells of chocolate.

 

D: WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?  WHAT DID YOU MAJOR IN?

EH: I went to Pennsylvania State University and majored in Graphic Design.

 

D: HOW DID YOU GET INTO EDITORIAL DESIGN?  DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO WORK IN PUBLISHING?

EH: No, I wanted to be a fashion designer, I really didn’t know my job existed when I went to college. I sort of happened into Graphic Design. The GD program at Penn State only accepted 19 students a year through portfolio reviews. Very competitive on the college level. Our senior project at Penn State was to create our own magazine. Mine was called the Chameleon. The magazine had to have 3 sections: your own illustrated feature, a photo essay and a found objects feature. I loved the project… loved magazines. I grew up on 80’s Elle (I just dated myself!) My first job in New York was at Modern Bride Magazine, the AD was a Penn State grad and happen to be looking for designer.

 

D: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AT HARPERS BAZAAR?

EH: I just had my 5 year anniversary.

 

D: WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE BAZAAR?

EH: Philadelphia Zoo, Modern Bride, Redbook, YM, Food & Wine and Marie Claire.

 

D: WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH STEVEN GAN?

EH: Amazing!

 

D: WHAT COVER SHOOT OR ISSUE of BAZAAR ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

EH: Really proud of the March 2009 Sarah Jessica Parker issue, especially love the subscriber cover and the September issue with Leighton Meister on the newsstand cover and Agnes on the subscriber cover.

 

D: ARE YOU INTO FASHION MUCH?

EH: Yes —the upcoming fall season makes me very excited about fashion again. I love all the camel and the loafers!  I’m pretty much into classics mixed with a little fun chic. I tend to stay away from major trends. Grace Kelly’s style is a continual inspiration — simple classic chic. Timeless.

 

D: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHERS OF ALL TIME?

EH: Tim Walker, Kurt Markus, Lillian Bassman, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Avendon.

 

D: WHAT INSPIRES YOU CREATIVELY?

EH: Travel, art museums, food, nature and vintage issues of Harper’s Bazaar.

 

D: ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY CREATIVE PROJECTS OUTSIDE OF YOUR 9-5?

EH: I am working on a Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook with beautiful food photography and simple clean design. PA Dutch cooking is comfort seasonal food—traditional recipes, some with a new twist. I’ve been collecting recipes from my family/friends, testing them and researching our history. I’ve all ready had a photo shoot…which was much fun. You never saw a red beet egg look so good! Made my own sauerkraut this fall…. which turned into a science project.

 

D: WHAT ARE SOME TRADITIONAL PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH RECIPES?

EH: Where I come from everyone eats Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s day for good luck. It’s become a tradition for some of my NY friends too. Basically I cook a pork shoulder or butt in a bed of sauerkraut (add a good pour of beer or white wine, sprinkle in some juniper berries and half of onion, chopped)  let cook for about 5 hours. serve over mashed potatoes with side of apple butter bread. great hangover food… In NY we eat this while watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. Perfect way to start the new year!

Other PA Dutch Recipes: Deep Dish Summer Corn Pie, Chicken Corn Soup with Rivals and Saffron, Fastnachts (the best powdered donuts) — eaten on Shrove Tuesday — My favorite is Chicken Pot Pie, different from the English version in that it is more stew like and consists of homemade pot pie egg noodles, chicken, potatoes, celery and saffron. And then there’s Stuffed Pig Stomach!… it’s really good —really!

 

D: WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN FOCUSING ON CREATIVELY, ASIDE FROM YOUR COOKBOOK PROJECT?

EH: My fiance, Bill Gifford and I bought a “cottage” that’s nestled in a small mountain village, Mt. Gretna PA (close to Hershey PA) Mt. Gretna is a Chautauqua. (A place that was founded to bring the arts, reading, writing  theater to people who lived outside the big cities.) Inside the cottage is a major art project i.e. fixer upper: rumor has it that it was designed by Stanford White in 1903 on the back of a napkin, we haven’t found the napkin or had the chance to verify. It’s quite grand in scale, about 10 rooms (all the homes in Mt. Gretna are called cottages)… The porch alone is about twice the size of our Greenwich Village apartment. When you walk in the are 2 rooms of glorious space! Not used to having space. At the moment I don’t really want to put anything in it… something soothing about the emptiness.  We’ve been scraping off 3 layers of wallpaper in the bedroom, even the ceilings were wallpapered. I’m trying to keep some under-layers of the wallpaper that I like and say it is the “beautifully distressed” look. (That’s what I tell myself). The cottage has tall ceilings, 2 fireplaces — one in the master bedroom. Because every room needs reworking (nothing was really updated for 25 years), it can be completely overwhelming, our plan of attack is to paint all the walls white, move in, live in it and then see where the room wants to take us. The best part of the house is the attic… it’s a child’s fantasy room.  The previous owner had built a small child’s electric amusement ride like you would find at Dutch Wonderland, there’s a submarine to play in and a marionette theatre box right out the Sound of Music.

 

D: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR REMODELING PLANS – WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC WHEN IT COMES TO INTERIORS?

EH: The kitchen has to be totally reworked —it’s the place where I plan to hang out — cook, eat, drink and laugh… oh and work on my cookbook… We have a very talented architect friend, Vincent Boyer from Canada who is working up some designs for a new, functional kitchen that has big windows so it feels like you’re cooking in nature. We’d like to mix in some salvage finds to give it that lived in feel and cut the “I’m a new kitchen” feeling.  A built in brick oven would be a dream for Bill’s bread making. Would love an area to display my cookbook collection old (the Liberace Cookbook!) and new. Most importantly we’d like a central gathering place for family and friends to hang out while we’re cooking. As far as a design aesthetic goes, I like the contrast of vintage and modern. I’m ‘neo country’ (taken from NY Magazine’s Home Design Spring 2010 Issue), with some sparkle. Love wood, nature – inspired objects contrasted with crystal chandeliers. I have an obsession with chairs.  I collect wooden duck decoys— don’t ask.  and I collect spoons and cooking vessels from around the world. Beautiful handmade items turn me on. We hope to create a calm, comfortable, inspiring, airy, visually interesting oasis… a place that you never want to leave…

 

 

 






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