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Thursday, June 15, 2006

What's In a Name?

When it came time for Martha Stewart to name the newest magazine in her ever-growing, post-prison empire, a magazine to fit alongside such titles as Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food, and Body+Soul, what did she choose? Well, Blueprint of course!

Missing image - blueprint1.jpg

What, that sounds familiar? Well, it should. It's also the name of the 20-year old British publication (left in the image above) that bills itself as "the international authority on contemporary architecture, design, and culture."

Does this mean that Martha is aiming to supplant that old rag as THE authority on those subjects? Probably not, as the subtitle of Martha's magazine is "Design your life," indicating that it's yet another in that fast-growing segment of weeklies and monthlies: lifestyle magazines. A search at magazines.com yields 175 titles in this broad category with, naturally, Oprah's self-titled one the most popular. Perhaps Martha has her sites on this other female-run empire and not some narrowly-focused, oversized magazine from across the pond.

Martha's Blueprint says to me what most architects have always known: that design permeates our lives in pratically every aspect of it, from where we live and work to the cars we drive, the products we buy and use, the toilets we sit on, the clothes we wear. I've always found Metropolis Magazine to be the most overt illustration of this fact, but in an intellectual and critical, rather than consumer-driven, way. Most of the time we "design our lives" not literally but by choosing what to buy, so that our clothes, our houses, our cars are an extension of us. It looks like Blueprint will be another magazine towards this end, with page after page after page of suggestions for what to buy in the guise of creating a new and unique you.

3 comments:

  1. I agree that we design our lives by choosing what to wear, live in, surround ourselves with, etc., but there's more to it than that. With an almost infinite availabillity of information, we "design" - or maybe "edit" is a better word - our lives by choosing what information we access, and to a lesser extent, what information we're peripherally exposed to.

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  2. re: Metropolis — intellectual & critical in its approach undoubtedly, but surely also in no small measure consumer-driven?

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  3. jimmy - You're certainly correct, and I'd hate to think that we are solely defined by what we buy to surround us. Though I think magazines like this push that more than the other alternatives. And there's got to be a lot of problems in life that just can't be solved by purchasing a product but by being creative and "designing" a solution ourselves.

    anon - Yes, Metropolis certainly has some consumer-driven content. What comes to mind is the industrial design that is featured a lot, such as Herman Miller chairs. Regardless, I think their approach is not so much pushing these things on people as it is critically thinking about their design and therefore the success of the design itself.

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