It seems changes are afoot at Lonny, the original and grande dame of the digital shelter crew: Michelle Adams, who co-founded the magazine more than three years ago with photographer Patrick Cline, is stepping down from her post as editor in chief. The New York Post's Keith Kelly reports today that Adams will be succeeded by Irene Edwards, formerly a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure and executive editor of Sunset. She will take the title of Lonny executive editor.
None of this is all that surprising, given that Lonny's ability to survive as a self-published entity was called into question about a year ago, although when the pub was purchased by tech-driven media company Zimbio (newly renamed Livingly Media) in July, reps announced that Adams and Cline would both stay put. On paper, the move sounded like an acqui-hire that would ultimate improve readability and Web presence: Livingly has taken Lonny off Issuu, the PDF-powered site that had hosted its pages since its 2009 debut, republishing its pages on its own, more efficient platform, and has soft-launched a site one can only hope will be updated beyond regurgitated magazine content and boring roundups now that the team has an actual ringleader overseeing the brand's blog.
While reps offer the hackneyed phrase "pursue other projects" as the reason for Adams' departure, obviously there's more to the story. Perhaps, after three years running the show as a mom 'n' pop, it was a challenge to comfortably abdicate creative control. Or, perhaps she just got bored, now that the initial excitement about Lonny—its many accolades, its access to the homes of seemingly untouchable designers like the late Albert Hadley—has somewhat worn off. As design critic Alexandra Lange put it in a review of the magazine and its roster of terrible copycats in 2011, "We don't want to know that every bathroom in the house has the same tile, or see the living room from all four sides. We get it." In other words, print publications have to constantly battle the edit-to-ad page ratio and therefore probably never have the editorial space they want; by choosing to publish online, on the other hand, Lonny often goes overboard in publishing one huge feature after another with little break for the eyes of the reader.
Still, in the Instagram- and Pinterest-obsessed clime of today, an onslaught of beautiful photos is still what some people want to see. Lonny's latest traffic reports suggest that the site is on the up and up after being acquired, now seeing an impressive 39M pageviews a month. Whatever one's opinion of Gwyneth Paltrow's shapewear collection or new newest Kohler showerhead or undigestible 40-plus-page features may be, there's no question Adams has effectively produced a new medium within shelter media. It will be interesting to see how Edwards follows suit.