Colette De Barros/Feel Free
Leanne Ford is launching her own home design magazine, but that description doesn't quite capture all it is.
"I really wanted it to be bigger than design," she says of the inaugural issue, out Friday. "The reality is that it's an art magazine that's centered in home. It really isn't a home magazine. I'm forging my own path."
Her hope is that the magazine, while filled with pretty interior images, will be more than an item to sit on a coffee table. "It's a call to action," she explains. Even its title is a directive to "feel free to create, free to fail, free to play."
The first issue, baring a joyful Ford on the cover (above), has a fittingly free-flowing feel from start to finish, showing mostly spaces in black and white — her favorite colors to decorate in. Her actual handwriting, which she had turned into a font, is scrawled throughout.
The stories, while cohesive in aesthetic, are widely varied: There are profiles of her favorite creatives, before and afters, a decorating workbook, a choose your own adventure-style game, a playlist to paint to and full-page art pieces on perforated pages meant to be torn out and hung on your walls at the end.
"It is very tactile, which is another big thing. I want you to scribble on it. I want you to rip it up," she says. "All these magazines are closing up their print; We're coming out in print only."
Her own homes, friends, and even her daughter, Ever, 3, (on the sofa, above), make cameos, but the standout feature is on Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house near her native Pittsburgh, which Ford chose to photograph as if it were her own. "I love having a famous architectural piece, but shooting it in a fresh way is so fun to me," she says. "I was pretending I lived there and shooting it how it was lived in and loved when it was built."
While Feel Free is undeniably artsy, it's also informative. "Every section has tips," says Ford, noting that's true even within the several features spotlighting inspiring creatives — from a Brooklyn decor guru to a screen-printing nun.
"It's like, here's an artist, here's their beautiful space and here's their art form. And then they tell you how you can do it. So instead of saying, 'Look at these pretty things.' It's, 'You too can do these pretty things," she says.
She's also encouraging all the artists out there to "submit their work, art, ideas and knowledge to share in future issues of the magazine. I really want to encourage people to collaborate and share in this. It's so much bigger than me."
Ford does have one particular future collaborator already in mind: "In my dreamland, if I'm on another cover, I want to be next to Diane Keaton, hugging," she says. "She's somebody that likes to play and create and isn't afraid to mess up or be goofy. She's a great example of living feel free!"
Feel Free Vol. 1 is available on newsstands and on leanneford.com on Friday, September 23.