Hard to believe that it’s been two years since the announcement ending I.D.Magazine’s 50+ year run, a milestone that was mourned in multiple ways - present company included.
As a design magazine aficionado, I had been seeking the “next great design magazine” – which means not only engaging content, but an appealing artifact – the magazine as a design object itself. I have found both in Design Bureau.
Ostensibly, Design Bureau is reminiscent of some of the general characteristics of I.D. – heavy paper stock, bi-monthly publication and mid-western roots (Chicago for DB/Cincinnati for ID). Even at a youthful 9-issues old, Design Bureau has exhibited a diverse and interesting content range. With focus areas that include product design and architecture, it resides somewhere between the industrial design emphasis of the classic I.D.magazine, and the interior design/architecture slant of the current Metropolis magazine.
But as with the various design fields it reports on, it’s hard to narrowly define its scope: A recent 194-page issue included pieces on custom motorcycles, scarves, high-end fast food restaurant design and Mies van der Rohe and Marc Jacobs, to name a few.
In an analysis of What Killed I.D. Magazine, FastCo Design describes the longtime controversy over whether I.D. was a magazine for consumers or professionals. Design Bureau arguably defines its audience as professional designers who are also consumers. Consequently, there are professional-targeted articles about designers, design practices and processes, but also coverage of studio spaces and products that will appeal to designers. This balance is also realized in who is written about as much as what - the same edition that begins with Karim Rashid as its cover boy - “The designer we know and love, or love to hate?” - ends with a page touting the skills and interests of a non-famous designer for hire, a recurring final page in all of the issues.
It was a gutsy move to come out with a new, relatively expensive design magazine during these trying times for print periodicals. On the digital side, Design Bureau has a respectable online presence including access to previous issues and a well-organized, visual blog, but it’s the physical magazine that merits attention.