Between the digital world and craftsmanship: design according to magazines

Edicola Fiera Campionaria 1964

Newsstand at the Milan Trade Fair in 1964, photo courtesy of the Fiera Milano Foundation Archive

Where is design headed and, most importantly, how will we tell its story? DAMN°, Möbelmarkt and IFDM share their point of view 

In the sixth date with the world of design as seen through the lens of the editorial teams around the world, we find out publishing – just like design – is adapting and reacting to ongoing changes with innovative ideas and resources. 

What is the first and most important mission for magazines reporting on what is happening in the design world? Gabrielle Kennedy, editor of the Belgian independent magazine DAMN° (always focused on stories about design from a disruptive perspective) explains, “DAMNº explores the cultural world and contemporary opinions from the home base of design, while always looking outwards and beyond to understand the bigger picture. We explore the design universe from conception through the making, distribution and use of design. DAMNº wants to know how designers are educated, the machinations of their creativity and how their work interacts with the broader economic system. Although critical and astute in its thinking, DAMNº always sides with design pushing for more understanding and better opportunities for design thinking. We cover research, materiality, and making as well as systems, interventions and speculations. The climate crisis is our shared reality and no matter what your perspective the solution lies in design.” 

The sharp approach embraced by DAMN° – perhaps the most sensitive to critical phenomena in contemporary living at every scale – is contrasted and complemented by the one followed at Möbelmarkt, the German magazine focused on tracking the evolutions of interior design in terms of trends, of course, as well as market and, most importantly, business – as one of the major pillars in the industry. “In our latest issue – says Karin Henjes – we focus on how the concept of ‘premium living’ and high-end design is shifting in Germany and other mid-European countries. There are a lot of new small European labels from real design lovers that offer original design with good quality and in the mid-priced furniture segment. Even with small marketing budgets, they are able to form big fan communities via Instagram, Pinterest etc. In an eclectic mix, private persons and professionals have started to combine these new labels – that often relate to Nordic design or mid-century design – with high-end premium furniture from traditional European design companies. As we see it, this shift rather serves than harasses high-end design brands because more and more people learn to appreciate excellent design. As long as the high-end premium brands sustain their aura on one side and learn to communicate with their customers at eye level, they will be fine. Sustainability, craftsmanship and full transparency of the production process will be key success factors.” 

Italian magazines agree on the importance of enhancing contemporary attitudes in the design world, and write about its different hues and peculiarities, leveraging and optimizing every available tool. Among them, “IFDM turns 15, and takes the opportunity to take stock,” say Ruben Modigliani and Paolo Bleve, as they gear up to report on the 2022 Salone del Mobile.Milano – coming up in less than a month – through their Interior Furniture Design Magazine. “Over the years, our publication has become a beacon in the B2B world, speaking to architects, designers, manufacturers and players in the whole trade, helping them dialogue among each other from the United States to China. A network we follow and which follows us. In 2019, we decided to widen our digital horizon with a new editorial platform and tools aligned with a new model of everyday life, turning the print edition into a collector’s item, a document that records the status quo year after year. For this Salone, we will inject new energy in the project in this same direction, completing a redesign and content reorganization inspired by plurality. Next to product previews you will see different opinions, voices and experiences. All these elements will be compared to trace an atlas of ideas and perspectives on the design world. At the same time, the print and digital editions will grow even closer: during the Milano Design Week we will produce a daily in-depth report through our Daily Newsletter, which has become a tradition at this point. Our online channels will showcase exclusive multimedia content tied to the print issue, so we can tell readers everything as we see it. It’s a way – it’s our way – to tell the story of the Salone and of the great week dedicated to design, as an extraordinary opportunity for dialogue and design, using the language of contemporaneity.” 

Check out the previews of the products that will be unveiled at the Salone del Mobile.Milano 2022