Min Hogg: The World of Interiors Editor’s Influence on Design

Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel Examines the Life and Influence of Min Hogg


Min Hogg was the founding editor of World of Interiors magazine. While the rest of the publishing arena was concerned with following trends, Min didn’t have much concern for what others thought of her or her magazine (which you can imagine stressed out the ad sales team). But her unapologetic approach worked. She ran the most influential “undesigned” design magazine of all time. She rejected the curated looks of the day and deliberately embraced the unfashionable, showcasing homes with cluttered collectibles, vintage pieces, and bohemian charm. Her work redefined the expectations of the interior design world and influenced a new generation of designers, including me. 

Min Hogg passed away in 2019, but her influence is strongly felt as more and more folks dare to break the mold and put their full personality on display in their homes. I wanted to take a look at her life and how her work has inspired designers around the world and my own Austin interior design team.   

“Houses have a way of speaking their minds, they can intervene in one’s plans by shouting their disapproval.” 

— Min Hogg, World of Interiors Founding Editor 

The Life of Min Hogg: Founding Editor of World of Interiors Magazine 

Before she started World of Interiors magazine, Min Hogg worked as a typist at Queen after graduating from the Central School of Art and Design. She came from a very posh background. Her father, Sir James Cecil Hogg, was an ear specialist whose patient list included royal figures like Queen Elizabeth II. Her mother, Pollie, was well known for being incredibly chic. She was raised with a background of high-brow taste, and she’d learn how to mix it up with her own bohemian twist. 

She went on to become the chief fashion editor of Queen after it became Harpers & Queen between 1974 and 1979. Before co-founding World of Interiors in 1981, she had a brief stint as the fashion editor for the Middle Eastern magazine Sheba, which specifically catered to rich women who liked to “sit around and flip through magazines.”  

Unlike other editors at the time, Min wasn’t interested in serving readers “how-to” decorating tips or shopping lists catered to trends and advertisers. Instead, she wanted to use the platform to showcase what she liked and give readers something they could learn from and come to appreciate. Rupert Thomas, who succeeded Min as editor, said, “She was very schoolmarmish and believed that the magazine had to show the unfamiliar.” And her take proved to be a success. 

Within six months of launching World of Interiors, Condé Nast offered to purchase it. The publishing giant already owned House & Garden but saw World of Interiors as an up-market publication with an edge of intellectualism and escapist fantasy. Condé Nast may have owned World of Interiors, but it was still Min’s magazine, and she called the shots. She held her role for two decades and died in 2019 at the age of 80. 


Min Hogg’s Influence on Shabby Chic & “Undesigned” Style

While she ran a design magazine, Min didn’t necessarily want to show spaces made by designers. She was committed to highlighting a range of homes that felt personal and impossible to copy, whether an English cottage or a repurposed castle. She told The New York Times in 1983: 

“I try to get nonprofessionals who aren’t going to use interior-design jargon and words like silk slub. What we end up with instead is a story on a couple who say they used heavy shutters on their windows because they stay in bed all day and like to sleep. Do you see?” 

The unconventional, quirky interiors she showcased featured peeling paint, eccentric art, and bohemian charm, which eventually became tenants of shabby chic design. She rejected minimalism and fitting in and instead promoted eclecticism and individualism. 

While she was curating a style that spoke to the romantic side of interiors, she really was just sharing her own personal take on decorating. Her royal-adjacent background gave her a firm understanding of English traditionalism, and her bohemian youth in the 60s and 70s brought an eclectic edge. She combined these two sides of herself, creating the unassuming yet charming aesthetic World of Interiors is known for. 


Taking a Cue from Min Hogg in My Interior Design Career 

World of Interiors caught my eye on newsstands sometime in the late 90s, probably 1997 or so. Once I flipped through the pages, I was hooked and began collecting them immediately. What I loved about the magazine was that it spoke to interiors with an air of intellectualism — and I figured I was an intellectual! Really, I was interested in interiors but slightly embarrassed by the fact at the time. 

In my youth, I spent hours reading Shakespeare and Milton. I considered myself an intellectual, thoughtful, creative, and interested in the wider world. I’d get second-hand embarrassment from the frivolous portrayal of designers in pop culture, like Doris Day in the movie Pillow Talk. The role of a designer was made out to be a trend-following shopper, and that didn’t align with what I wanted from a career. The pages of World of Interiors showed the other side of the profession.

Min’s work looked to other cultures and history and reinforced the idea that interior design was truly an intellectual and creative pursuit. It showed me that people actually do value the work of designers and  it helped validate for me that interior design had some gravity and importance in the culture milieu. Min sought out personalized designs that felt “undesigned” and real. I do the same for my clients, rejecting the latest trends and focusing on what they need and want in their spaces. 

World of Interiors taught me not to be afraid. Former editor Rupert Thomas said, “Creative endeavors are about failure as much as they are about success. Min experimented, and sometimes those experiments went very badly, and others were really, really right. It makes your job much easier when you aren’t always striving constantly for what’s always going to work. If something flops, well, it flops; not everything is going to fly. But learning along with the audience is probably what made her want to continue, as long as she and the readers were learning something. That was what was important.” 


So, pick up a copy of WoI and keep learning. 

Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.



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