THL Talks: Judith Puckett-Rinella of Whisper Editions on Effective Creative Collaboration

Judith Puckett-Rinella

Whisper Editions, a new venture from former photography editor Judith Puckett-Rinella, began its life this fall as a venue for well thought out, limited edition art and housewares exclusives.  However, Puckett-Rinella, formerly of T Magazine and Vanity Fair, is expanding the business’ weekly editions into the accessories realm, adding to the inner circle of artists and designers with whom she partners on the wares.   We wanted to know how she develops her particular selection of goods from a range of creative minds, to stand apart from the other highly curated, limited edition e-commerce sites out there.

The High Low:  Tell us about your move from being a photo editor to founding Whisper Editions.  What was your inspiration?

Judith Puckett-Rinella:  It was a bold move, but one I was determined to make for one main reason — I wanted to build a place in which real creativity and honest-to-goodness collaboration truly exists. The inspiration was and is currently quite simple — a desire to work with creative luminaries to create original, beautiful, and useful things for all of the various aspects of one’s life.  My career as an editor at The New York Times and Vanity Fair very much paved the way. The close interaction and collaboration with my fellow editors and all of the wonderful photographers, artists, stylists, designers, and art directors not only afforded me an extraordinary inside view of how things are created from scratch, but also taught me how to navigate through the thick sea of creatives in order to achieve optimal results. As an editor I learned not only to fulfill the original vision, but to help transcend it to create something lasting, provocative, and ultimately memorable.

Chorthip and Whisper EditionsThe infinity bangle, this week’s Whisper Edition, created in conjunction with the artist Chorthip.

THL:  Speaking of the thick sea of creatives, how do you decide which artists and designers to work with?

JPR:  For this first season of Whisper’s planning, I was fortunate enough to sit down with artists and designers who, for the most part, I have known and worked with for years. It was really an intimate and personal process, creating new works with them, and in some ways an even more personal process than magazine editing.  For our next season, I am working with an entirely new group, and it is very exciting – almost mind-bending at times, with all of the potential and ideas that are soaring around each day.

THL:  In terms of art versus design, the site began life more focused on art, but now seems to be moving into the accessories sphere.  Can you tell us about that progression?

JPR:  It may feel like a progression, but variety was part of the formula from the very beginning. I believe that art in your daily life takes many forms.  It’s not just what you hang on your wall.  I am amazed at the craftsmanship, design, and time that goes into my jewelry artists’ work. If their pieces are not art, we need to redefine the word.

house of waris for Whisper EditionsA past House of Waris edition.

THL:  There are a number of different limited edition businesses in both the arts and accessories sectors.  What sets Whisper Editions apart?

JPR:  The massive amount of choices available in any given market — art, accessories, furniture — can melt your mind, and navigating the surfeit of options can eat up your valuable time. Whisper works to distill the process for our clients, to commission the right work of art from the right photographer or designer and make available one perfect item each week. Each edition has been very thoughtfully considered and produced and in some cases have been years in the making. Every week we offer our loyal followers something new, exclusive, distinct, extremely well-crafted, and ultimately timeless.

THL:  Who are some dream-list artists and designers with whom you’d like to collaborate on an item?

JPR:  Stefano Pilati has long been a favorite of mine — he is both a genius and a lovely individual, a rare combination in this day and age. In a different medium, I love Jean Paul Goude. He has a sick sense of humor and a wild imagination. That leads me to Azzadine Alaia — he is unwavering in his vision, a true nonconformist. I respect that approach to life and work a great deal.

THL:  Anything coming up for Whisper Editions in the future you can tell us about?

JPRTwo words: Edie Parker.


Check out previous THL Talks:

Steve Russell of Prism Skylabs on Black Friday In-Store Data Collection

Fohr Card Founder James Nord on the Evolution of the Blogger

Josie Maran on Creating Organic Beauty Before It was a Trend