Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Re-Modern Movemenet - Dwell ascends?

I received an email today from Dwell's Publisher Michela O'Connor - oh, don't worry - I'm not a personal correspondent with her - it was a mass email. The gist is that Dwell was commenting on the passage of Conde Nast's long lived home magazine House & Garden.. That's right - after 106 years they are shuttering the magazine. It was announced yesterday completely unbeknownst to me as I'm slammed with deadlines this week, and I guess I was surprised that this was how I was finding out about it. Did you get this email today? I'll post the text below if you did not. I'm not sure how to take it? Is it simply the desire to mark a milestone? Is it as significant as they would make it to be - is this a real shift in the zeitgeist? Or just savvy marketing to make an issue of it? And perhaps a drop of gloat in there too? House & Garden had long been the 800 pound gorilla in home magazines, except maybe for Architectural Digest who was more decorator extreme, not mainstream as H&G. Are they claiming Dwell is taking its place in popular culture? I'd be thrilled to think that modern had ascended, but I also don't want to kid myself - loose the "eye of the tiger", the "want" to win - being second and trying harder, et all... What do you all think? Please, comment. 106 years is a long time to maintain relevancy and few have done it. As you already know, Conde Nast has announced that effective with the December issue, House & Garden will cease publication. Despite Conde’s very clear statement that it no longer made business sense for them to continue, much is being written in print and online about why this occurred. I thought it important to write to you about this event because I believe it signals a change in the shelter category; not good or bad just a shift that has been brewing for a few years. And, I don’t think the housing market is the culprit. While a downturn in housing is nothing to brush aside, it is not as fundamental to the change in the shelter category as the changing mindset of the consumer. Ten years ago, Dwell’s owner and founder, Lara Hedberg Deam, went through a very typical home renovation process. The only thing atypical was her desire to have her ideas expressed in a way that only modern design can. During this process she noted a lack of relevant information in existing magazines, which urged her to explore the concept of a magazine and media platform to fill the void. She felt that if modern design was to be covered in media it should have a certain rigor as well as an accessibility of thoughts and ideas. It was this experience that led to the founding of Dwell. Simply, she wanted to bring modern design to everyone and illustrate the design philosophy that she found so vital in her own endeavor. Seven years later we have successfully grown the Dwell brand on five platforms - Dwell Magazine,, Dwell on Design, Dwell Homes by Empyrean, Dwell TV- centered on our founding premise. Design has become a household word thanks to a host of influences, all of which have spurred discussion about the influence of design in every industry. Because of this movement, design professionals and their modern savvy consumer counterparts are engaged in a quest for good design; looking for ideas, inspiration, and great companies to deliver both. Dwell champions their mission, chronicles their journey, and leads them to every corner of the globe where good design can be found. Losing a worthy member of the home and design category should be a reminder that the meaning of house and home has changed in a demonstrable way. Being At Home in the Modern World is what it is all about. Warm Regards, Michela O’Connor Abrams President & Publisher

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  1. "Sir, does this mean that Ann Margret's NOT coming?"

  2. I think modern, as defined by Dwell, is still very far from mainstream. But without question peoples' ideas of 'home' have changed a lot. We keep getting closer to modernist ideas even as our homes still look more traditional.

  3. I think you are right John, but I can't say that H&G did not respond to that condition, or that Dwell was now more mainstream than H&G.