My background is in architecture. Unfortunately, most architecture magazines are horrible. Architecture is about 15 years behind the rest of the design world, and this is particularly evident when you look at magazines. Industry staples like Architectural Record, Architecture Digest and Architectural Review revel in the “tradition” of architecture, but don’t offer a progressive direction for the profession or any editorial space to those who are paving a new path.
Luckily enough, there is CLOG. Unlike its contemporaries that focus on the flavor of the day, CLOG “aims to slow things down.” Launched in 2011, every issue tackles a single subject pertinent to architecture, and it does so by gathering submissions from whoever feels like they have something to say about the subject, regardless of their background. You can think of CLOG as a crowd-sourced architectural digest that goes beyond any given topic, and beyond architecture itself.
The inaugural issue focused on Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), an architecture firm that has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the most visible practices in the world. Highly digestible 500-word entries examine every facet of Bjarke, his team of BIGsters, and their projects. The icing on the cake is an appendix of responses from Bjarke himself, attempting to refute the more venomous of the features. The formula is powerfully effective.
Fast forward to Spring 2013, when CLOG launched their fifth issue, titled National Mall. The issue is more mature than the first, but still features the same cheeky, analytical punch. Testifying for the variety of backgrounds that CLOG refreshingly draws ideas from, the issue leads with an article by a journalist, my wife, Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman aka The Italien), as she examines what the real American Mall is: the National Mall in DC, or the famous commercial center, the Mall of America. As she points out, the first 6 search results on Google are for the commercial center.
CLOG’s themes are great, but the magic is in the format. The magazine prides itself on publishing content “succinctly, on paper, away from the distractions and imperatives of the screen,” but I think the alchemy here is a bit different than what the editors are touting.
Flipping through CLOG is more akin to browsing a well written forum-thread, than, say, Architectural Record, where you’re going to have just a handful of lengthy features. Gone, also, is super-gloss architectural photography, and in its place is a smart use of black and white, a minimal layout, and punchy typography.
The length of time that it takes to absorb the content of a magazine is vital, and CLOG, unlike the speed that its name implies, actually expedites this relationship between content and reader. CLOG is more effectively understood as a cross-breed of architecture magazine and bathroom reader; succinct, entertaining, and informative. Compared to something like Paradis, CLOG is fast.
CLOG will be launching its next themed issue, on Brutalism, within the next few weeks. If you would like to see more, be sure to check out the CLOG website.