Louis Oliver Gropp, a gentle shepherd of shelter magazines via many years of turmoil as editor in chief of Home & Backyard, Elle Décor and Home Lovely, died on Oct. 17 at his dwelling in Greenport, N.Y., on Lengthy Island. He was 88.
His daughter Lauren Gropp Lowry introduced the loss of life. No trigger was given.
In 1981, Condé Nast Publications determined to renovate Home & Backyard, its 80-year-old adorning journal, and selected Mr. Gropp to be its new editor. Like its competitor, Home Lovely, Home & Backyard was then a middlebrow publication dedicated to recipes, D.I.Y. adorning and handicrafts.
However Ronald Reagan had simply begun his first time period as president, and the tradition was shifting. The luxurious market — the prosperous reader — beckoned. Architectural Digest had already begun to chronicle the nice life as lived by heads of state, film stars and Hollywood machers. Home & Backyard would do the identical.
Mr. Gropp was maybe not an intuitive option to oversee the transformation. He was a gracious and sensible Midwesterner with a modest, Methodist upbringing who collected midcentury fashionable furnishings, admiring the ethos behind these clear, practical strains. Because the late Nineteen Sixties, he had been enhancing the Home & Backyard Guides, single-topic magazines on photo voltaic homes, constructing and renovation, kitchens, adorning how-to, and residential storage. They have been helpful and in style and met the D.I.Y. spirit of the occasions.
The brand new Home & Backyard, which was launched in January 1983 as “the journal of artistic residing,” seemed nothing like its previous self. It was very grown up, very intellectual and really elegant. Gone have been the jumble of canopy strains — “Paint Your Personal Cloth Patterns!” — and the pet meals and categorised adverts. There have been no tales about adorning in a small house, crocheting towel edges or turning your closet into an indoor backyard.
As an alternative, there have been options in regards to the nests of cultural lions, just like the playwright Lanford Wilson’s Manhattan loft, designed by Joseph D’Urso, or the style designer Bill Blass’s residence, finished up by Mica Ertegun and Chessy Rayner. And there have been tales to match, articles by Elizabeth Hardwick, Gore Vidal, Rosamond Bernier and Jan Morris.
The combo was maybe not precisely to Mr. Gropp’s style, significantly because the Eighties rolled alongside and the interiors of the wealthy grew fussier and extra elaborate; the brand new emphasis mirrored extra the affect and pursuits — and social circle — of Alexander Liberman, the Russian-born émigré and artist, who was the fearsome editorial director of Condé Nast.
But Mr. Gropp’s nice expertise was his capacity to adapt to the imaginative and prescient of others, and to assist and promote that imaginative and prescient. His editors adored him, and so did the advertisers.
“Lou was extremely good-natured and open-minded,” stated Shelley Wanger, Mr. Gropp’s articles editor, who coaxed many writers from her former employer, The New York Evaluation of Books, to contribute.
Stephen Drucker, the veteran shelter journal editor who labored for Mr. Gropp within the Nineteen Seventies, stated by telephone: “Lou noticed himself as a enterprise head. He didn’t suppose for a minute about being a star himself.” He added, “He confirmed that you might achieve success — and you might be variety.”
In 1984, Home & Backyard gained two National Magazine Awards for design and basic excellence. It was the one journal in its class — magazines with circulations between 400,000 and 1 million — to take action.
By 1987, nonetheless, Mr. Liberman and S.I. Newhouse, Condé Nast’s quirky and recessive proprietor, had soured on the journal, and its editor. (The inventory market would crash later that 12 months, and advertisers have been already spooked.) The 2 males had been courting a younger British vogue editor named Anna Wintour, whose ambition was to run American Vogue. They gave her Home & Backyard as an alternative.
Mr. Gropp was abruptly — and, within the business, famously — fired whereas on trip together with his household in Newport Seashore, Calif. His dismissal adopted that of William Shawn at The New Yorker and preceded that of Grace Mirabella at Vogue. The firing blitz of those revered editors inside a 12 months grew to become a part of Condé Nast’s grisly lore as a snake pit, and added to Mr. Newhouse’s fame “as a kind of troglodyte who loved humbling his prime expertise,” as Dodie Kazanjian and Calvin Tomkins wrote in “Alex: The Lifetime of Alexander Liberman” (1993).
Mr. Gropp was sometimes sanguine. He at all times stated he went on to raised issues, as editor of the American model of Elle Décor, the French adorning journal, after which Home Lovely, which he ran from 1991 till his retirement in 2000. There, he preserved the journal’s DNA — accessible design for a large viewers — however broadened its focus and refined its look.
“I at all times considered Lou because the Walter Cronkite of the shelter journal world,” Warren Shoulberg, a design business guide, wrote in an electronic mail. “I don’t imagine anyone else of that period had the credibility and gravitas Lou did. He was additionally a very nice particular person and by no means appeared to flaunt his stature.” (Although he was a dapper dresser, Mr. Shoulberg added.)
Ms. Wintour’s Home & Backyard, which she renamed HG, grew to become a quick, fashion-inflected publication — notably placing individuals in elegant interiors — but it alienated many subscribers and advertisers. Condé Nast needed to arrange an 800 quantity to deal with all of the complaints and cancellations.
Earlier than the 12 months was out, although, Mr. Liberman and Mr. Newhouse determined the time was proper to eject Ms. Mirabella at Vogue and substitute her with Ms. Wintour. Home & Backyard was shuttered in 1993, revived in 1996 and closed for good in 2007, a sufferer of the housing hunch and the looming recession.
Louis Oliver Gropp was born on June 6, 1935, in La Porte, in northern Indiana, and grew up simply over the border, in New Buffalo, Mich. His mom, Carol (Pagel) Gropp, was a homemaker. His father, Hosea Gropp, shoveled coal for the railroad.
Louis studied communications at Michigan State College. As a journalist, he thought he may write about faith; as an alternative, his first job supply was from Residence Furnishings Information, a commerce journal. He had already fallen in love with modernism, after strolling right into a Chicago furnishings retailer whereas on his job search and seeing items by Charles Eames, Harry Bertoia and Eero Saarinen.
“I had by no means seen issues like that,” he informed The Chicago Tribune in 1991, recalling the nondescript furnishings he grew up with. “You didn’t have a method in a small Midwestern city,” he stated. “You had a settee and an identical chair.”
He moved to Manhattan within the Nineteen Sixties and married Jane Goodwin after assembly her at Riverside Church in 1965. Along with his daughter Lauren, he’s survived by his spouse; one other daughter, Amy Gropp Forbes; and 5 grandchildren.
In December 1993, Inside Design journal included Mr. Gropp in its Design Corridor of Fame, singling him out for his considerate method to design protection.
“Design journalism, so typically fueled by picture and flash, has at all times produced its share of shrill pronouncements and hyperbole,” Mayer Rus, the journal’s editor, wrote on the time. But Mr. Gropp, he stated, “has managed to navigate the business’s minefield of egos and chintz with probity, grace and an overriding adherence to the very best editorial requirements.”
“Bored with bumptious rhetoric and affected poses,” Mr. Rus added, “Gropp’s work has at all times positioned a premium on the celebration of excellent design.”