Tagged: magazine review

Unclogging Architecture: CLOG

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.

clog-big-big

clog-big-inside-01

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.

clog-national-mall-cover-big

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-inside-09

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.

clog-rendering-int-05

clog-rendering-int-03

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-rendering-int-09

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.

Advertisements

The Slowness of Paradis 6

Paradis 6 Cover

Over the past year or more I have heard and read so much about Paradis, the brainchild of French art director Thomas Lenthal,  but for some reason or another I never got about to ordering a copy – it remained in the back of my mind until I stumbled across this copy a few weeks ago and could no longer resist. For whatever reason – maybe the amount of references I had read, I had a relatively defined image in my mind of what the volume would contain, but the contents were actually quite different than I initially anticipated.

Launched in 2006, the latest issue of Paradis is 400-pages thick and has been nearly two years in the making. This issue includes lengthy features from cultural heavy-weights such as Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman, Massimo Vignelli, Juergen Teller and Alain de Botton.

“What I am looking at” by Juergen Teller in Paradis 6

“What I am looking at” by Juergen Teller in Paradis 6

“The Dennis Freedman Collection” in Paradis 6

A shining gem in the issue is a piece on the furniture collection of Dennis Freedman, sprawling over 20 spreads and packed with a dense landscape of one-off furniture pieces and artwork. The photographs relate well to the contents of the whole Paradis issue — an assortment of mysteries and beauties, from famous to unknown.

“I’ve always felt that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” by Chuck Close and Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones in Paradis 6

The two features on Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman border on dry, but a lengthy interview with a personal hero of mine, Massimo Vignelli, (interviewed by my amazing wife here) is a goldmine.

“In those days, the idea was that you should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city.” with Massimo Vignelli by Aaron Betsky in Paradis 6

“In those days, the idea was that you should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city.” with Massimo Vignelli by Aaron Betsky in Paradis 6

Paradis is worth a read – and I will definitely revisit it in the future (hopefully it doesn’t take 2 years for the next issue!). The features are the real drivers of the magazine, and there is lots to be said for curating such a high caliber team for a single issue. In a market awash with magazines overflowing with content, Paradis is a breath of fresh air due to its relative “slowness”. Spending time with Paradis is more akin to meandering through a quiet museum than flicking through a periodical.