APIECE APART WOMAN
“As you might imagine I became very fascinated with the outside world from an early age,” Yolanda Edwards is saying. Raised on the outskirts of Tacoma, WA, from childhood Edwards was fascinated by the world beyond her experience. Today, she’s creative director of Condé Nast Traveler, leading to a life spent constantly on the move and with eyes open, looking for new discoveries and places to share. On a morning off, we visited Yolanda at her home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to discuss travel strategies, creative generosity, and favorite places at home and away.
What might a stranger learning of you and your work for the first time be interested to know about you?
The first ten years of my life I grew up in Washington state, on the outskirts of Tacoma. My dad was a music teacher at the local university and we lived very simply—no television, intermittent home-schooling, milking our own cow…and the only travel consisted of a 16-hour drive in between the Bay Area and Tacoma, when we would drive to visit my dad's parents who lived there. As you might imagine I became very fascinated with the outside world from an early age.
A few questions on travel:
The best place you’ve been this year: Sicily!
A recommendation for a sleeper hit? Baltimore for some excellent food at Woodberry Kitchen and great museums...and a stay at the Four Seasons, or the new boutique hotel The Ivy which I'm dying to check out. Or the Médoc region in France, which I like so much I bought a house there, in a little village called St Yzans.
Favorite hotel: So hard to say...I fall in love with wherever I am! One of my favorites this year is the Villa Feltrinelli on Lago Di Garda in the north of Italy.
A dream destination on your “to visit” list: Japan! Vietnam! I feel like a fraud that I've never been to Asia!
The next trip you have planned… Seattle...my grandma is turning 88! That's this weekend, right after we get back from a whirlwind trip to Italy for work.
Travel and exploration are, in many ways, a state of mind. What’s a favorite recent local discovery?
I love walking to the Hudson River in Battery Park City, right near my office. I sit and watch the waves (they have a similar color to the Aegean, I swear!) and afterward, I walk up the Irish Hunger Memorial, which is a really lovely garden also right there.
Do you go through periods of creative stagnancy or spells of feeling uninspired? If so, how do you combat them?
I think meetings are a necessary part of our jobs, but they can be creativity killers for the most part. Traveling always helps, but I also think just being connected to nature is important. Walking my dogs in the park, or gardening...slowing down...all important. I also find lots of inspiration in flea markets—from vintage pictures, postcards, and magazines.
At what time of day do you create your best work?
My best ideas come to me in the shower!
Describe a turning point in your career.
When I met my dear friend Pilar Guzman (who also happens to be my boss at Condé Nast Traveler) over ten years ago...she gave me opportunities that played to my strengths, not to my position. At the time I was a photo editor but she thought I should also be a travel editor, because it was such a passion of mine. It worked! She is a magical thinker and has transformed many a career.
What makes you feel most alive?
Can I make a list?!
- Eating and drinking with my family and dear friends.
- Stacking wood
- A Soul Cycle class with My favorite instructor Laurie.
Describe a personal ritual.
I collect ephemera, be it shells or rocks or business cards/napkins/coasters when I travel and then turn it into a memory box or a journal when I'm home.
Where do you go to be alone in New York?
The water fountain wall on 53rd between 5th and Madison.
'I think meetings are a necessary part of our jobs, but they can be creativity killers for the most part. Traveling always helps, but I also think just being connected to nature is important.'
Yolanda wears: 3/4 CROPPED TEE in cream - email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase and NAMBE DRESS / SKIRT in midnight stripe.
What’s your mantra?
Be here now.
What are some cultural touchstones you consider a part of who you are today — i.e.: what specific films, books, artists, places, etc., have been most influential in shaping you?
Movies: Vacation, Body Heat, Breakfast Club; Artists: Ann Hamilton, Ed Ruscha, Paul Rand
What are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
The 7th Avenue Donut Shop. We walked by it for years without going in, but now it's our favorite breakfast place...great coffee, eggs, sausage, BLT...we don't ever get the donuts though. I also like Gather for coffee and some clever gluten-free breakfast option on my way to work.
What do you make for dinner alone?
Eggs poached in tomato sauce and a glass of wine
What do you make for dinner with friends?
My husband is the cook in our house, and a recipe we would share is either game pie (he hunts) or choux farci, which is from our friend Mimi's cookbook.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned?
Give your ideas away! You give one away and ten come into its place!
Photography by TIM HOUT | Styling by ALEXA HOTZ | Interview by LEIGH PATTERSON