Spencer Bailey

SPENCER BAILEY is the former editorial director of Surface Media and editor-in-chief of Surface magazine. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Bloomberg Businessweek, and worked at The Daily Beast, Vanity Fair, and Esquire. Bailey wrote and edited the book Tham ma da: The Adventurous Interiors of Paola Navone, which was published by Pointed Leaf Press in 2016.

At Surface, Bailey has interviewed hundreds of leading architects, artists, designers, and others, including David Adjaye, Tadao Ando, Thom Browne, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Ian Schrager, Philippe Starck, and Kanye West. Bailey was integral to the launches of the Design Dialogues live conversation series, of which he is a frequent moderator, and the Surface Studios brand marketing unit. As editorial director of Surface Media, he oversees the company’s content across a range of digital and print platforms. During three years of reporting for The New York Times Magazine, from 2011 to 2014, he interviewed authors, celebrities, politicians, and cultural figures such as Al Sharpton, Tony Hawk, Rodney King, and Cyndi Lauper for a “How To ...” column.

Bailey is a trustee of the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York. He also serves on the New York honorary committee of the L’Ecole jewelry-making school, which is supported by Van Cleef & Arpels. He was on the juries of the 2016 James Beard Restaurant Design Awards, the 2016 Rado Star Prize, and the 2017 Swarovski Designers of the Future Award. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, he is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

3 words to describe Nature?

Reflective. Relaxing. Restorative

3 things Nature taught you?

To appreciate it more.

To slow down.

The importance of quiet.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Francie’s Cabin, in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Katsura Imperial Villa, in Kyoto, Japan.

The Noguchi Museum, in Queens, New York.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...?


When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?


When you see a volcano, it makes you feel...?


When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?

Like I should probably take a photo of it with my iPhone.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?


When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?

Depends on the context.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?


On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?


Share with us a childhood nature memory?

One night, when I was probably around age 8, my brothers and I decided to “camp out” in our family’s yard in suburban Denver. We read some scary stories that night. I remember hearing thunder in the distance. Shortly after falling asleep, we were awakened by a hail storm. A lightning bolt cracked above, and almost immediately we noticed that my twin brother’s hair was standing straight on end. The lightning had struck the tree next to us. We decided to wimp out and rush indoors. That was probably a wise decision.