Diane von Furstenberg on the pandemic, procrastination and Owning It

The designer, entrepreneur and Phaidon author admits that lockdown may have helped her write her new book
Diane von Furstenberg. Photograph by Jesse Frohman
Diane von Furstenberg. Photograph by Jesse Frohman

So, have you had a productive or instructive lockdown? Diane von Furstenberg’s was pretty productive. In a new interview with The Cut, the designer, entrepreneur and author described the difficulties she faced when she first began writing her new Phaidon book, Own It: The Secret to Life.
In an easy-to-navigate A-Z format, Own It offers a blueprint for enjoying both personal and professional growth at any age. There are entries on everything from addition to zebra prints, all written in the author’s inimitable, informed, yet informal style.

So, was it as effortless to write as it is to read? Not entirely. As von Furstenberg tells The Cut, she initially found the book a little challenging until Covid struck. In response, however, she started to take the book more seriously, and it meshed marvellously with her lockdown routine.


Pages from Own It
Pages from Own It

“For me, it was just an amazing therapy. I’ve never gone to therapy, but it made me feel good about myself because I realized that I’m actually coherent,” she explains. “Coherence is very much a part of who I am. I keep on repeating everything I’ve said that is still valid today. So it made me feel good about myself that at least I was consistent.”

Like many writers, von Furstenberg wasn’t constantly tapping away on her keyboard. “It’s a lot of procrastination and a lot of incubation, and then all of a sudden it comes,” she says.

Fortunately, during the lockdown, the designer also found time to put a few kind words other people’s way. As she explained to The Cut, “I try to do emails that do not benefit me [personally] every morning. So for example, I try to use my magic wand. That’s what I want to do. And the magic wand is that I can introduce someone to someone else that they would have never had the opportunity to meet, and that will change their lives.”


Pages from Own It
Pages from Own It

She has taken socialising online too, reaching out to people and making new connections. “I read an article the other day about me, and I wrote to the girl, and she couldn’t believe I wrote to her and we’ve become friends,” she explains.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as any surprise to discover that she also likes social media. “Listen, I find it fun,” she says. “I keep my own little diary on my personal [accounts]. I think it’s great. I don’t like it when it takes over people’s lives. And it’s added pressure, you know? But otherwise, you gotta own it. You have no choice. It’s part of everything that is happening now, everything from the pandemic to social media, it’s a result of where society is going.

“The pandemic gave us two things: everybody appreciates nature and loves nature more, and on the other hand we’ve accelerated five to ten years in the world virtually,” she argues. “So all of these are incredible changes.”


Own It

For more wise words from the great woman get a copy of Own It here.



Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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