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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Materials Monthly

Materials Monthly is "a subscription-based publication providing hands-on access to state-of-the-art materials and allowing designers to easily build a library that expands and supports their work." After an initial subscription run of 10 "issues," Princeton Architectural Press recently started the next batch of ten (given that it is called Materials Monthly, I'm confused why the subscription run isn't 12 issues). Here's the contents of Issue 11 (PDF link) that arrived the other day:


The issue presents, "a collection of materials and finishes that survey the
experimentations of several celebrated twentieth-century modernists, including Paul Rudolph, Marcel Breuer, Alexander Girard, and Florence Knoll." As you can see, the box includes actual samples and punched product sheets for a custom binder that comes with a subscription. The product sheets give information on the material, but more importantly they describe an application of the product, such as the use of silver reflective film the renovation of Paul Rudolph's 23 Beekman Place in New York City by Della Valle Bernheimer.

In a way of a marginalized critique -- not having seen other issues or compiled samples and product sheets into a design library -- this issue illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of Materials Monthly, mainly the focused presentation and being at the mercy of the editors in terms of content, respectively.

Or is that the other way around? In this case, the focus on 20th-century Modernism and the "case study" on DVB's renovation of a Rudolph house is, to me, an informative means of presenting the materials, while the the fact that "you get what you get" seems a bit frustrating. By the same token, I could see how one would find the opposite to be the more true: the case study limits one's take on how the materials are used, while the surprise that comes from the selection lets one know about materials that would otherwise be unknown, or at least not considered.

Regardless, Materials Monthly is obviously geared to be something that is more and more rewarding and functional as one receives issue after issue, a wise marketing tactic by PAPress that is also helpful for architects and designers who still appreciate the tangible qualities of materials when specifying them, instead of relying on web page images or pushy salespeople.


  1. If you're looking for a less editorialized, more real time, and more interactive functional source of products, check out Designer Pages. It's a user-generated product library that also let's you organize the products on the site. They really cater to the long tail of products, trying to be a wikipedia of catalogs of sorts. Best, they don't have the tenacity to charge designers fees for information.

  2. Materials Monthly appears to me to be a wonderful sort of curated project in a box. However, if you are looking for something more functional and informative, check out Material ConneXion

  3. Does Material Connection charge?


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