Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Dwell Dwindling?

I just came across a very cool Modern Design blog called Land + Living. It has some great features on archtiects and design products - and definitely worth adding to your list of sites to check out.

Particularly interesting is the in-depth Dwell debate taking place in the talkback sections. Apparently a disgruntled Dwell reader posted some criticism of the magazine in the Archinect Forums, which sparked off quite a discussion addressing issues some readers have with what they perceive as the magazine's new focus on conspicuous consumption.

Some of that discussion spilled over into Land + Living's comment section, including thoughts from Andrew Wagner, the senior editor at Dwell.

The basic argument boils down to whether Dwell has sold out, abandoning its roots of covering affortable, sustainable modern design in favor of extremely high-end projects, overpriced products, and Hummer advertisements.

As a continued reader of Dwell, I have to say that I still enjoy the magazine immensely. I do agree that increasingly the projects featured in the magazine seem to be moving towards extremely high end - but I also appreciate seeing a variety of budget scales, and would ideally like a mix of the affordable and the unattainable. I believe it is unfair to criticize the magazine for the ads it features, although I question the executive that thought an H2 ad in a magazine that features green design would really be a good sell for his product. I hope that Dwell aspires to feature products and projects for a variety of budgets - with the common link being solid design not upper class luxury (*cough, Wallpaper *cough).

Is America obsessed with consumerism? Definitely. And Dwell is not immune to this fascination with consumption - they need to sell magazines and ads, so they also have to appeal to readers. However, I consistently read articles in the magazine that promote green design or educate home-owners on how to select an architect for a renovation. These articles are undoubtedly contributing to an increased awareness of good design - and are not focused on slanging a specific product to the masses. At the same time - I also enjoyed their look at the latest in washing machine designs. I think a blend of these different perspectives is the best route, and although Dwell may fall on one side or the other from time to time, I believe that its goal is to achieve that balance. If they can sell magazines and ads, contribute to public knowledge of design, and still write interesting and informative articles - then I think they are achieving their goal. After all, it is up to you if you want to BUY the Hummer, not the editors of Dwell.

PRADE wants to hear from you. Comment on this article, and enter the debate here and here, and check out Dwell at local newstands, and online.

2 comment(s):

  • i lub you. (sorry, i dont know shit about design mags) but you asked us to weigh in. now if you wanted my opinion on vitals or instyle or something...

    By Blogger jebbiespepper, at 12:20 PM  

  • Personally, I like to read about the unattainable and ridiculous. It gives you something to shoot for and is generally a lot more interesting then what I can actually afford.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 10:43 PM  

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