An email I read Saturday morning has moved me to write about something quite different than my chosen and, in hindsight, quite dry topic of the discourse between architecture and economic growth. The email was from Stolen Publications. Never one to be too intrusive with the emails, I knew something was wrong.
“To all our readers and supporters,
With a tear in our eye and some excitement for the next adventure, we’re announcing that the current Volume Five will be our final edition of Stolen.”
Now, whether it was the lack of sleep to blame after a big Friday night or if it was the realisation that this is a blow to the industry that I hope to one day be apart of, or perhaps a combination of things, I found it genuinely sad.
It was love at first sight and that’s probably why this is feeling a lot like a breakup. My first encounter of Stolen was when a friend, and fellow design lover, bought me a limited edition copy for my 18th birthday. The idea is simple and that idea is summed up perfectly on page 4 of Volume 2 (With my word count in mind, please refer to the picture below).
The denial, pain and anger all seemed to hit me at once as I hurriedly ordered the editions that I once took for granted. Trying to come to terms with it, I’ve spent the last two days telling everyone I could about the loss and I was met with the same reaction each time. They all found common heartbreak in the fact that I just spent actual, real life money purchasing a couple books about art. “Huge mistake,” they said, “Think about what else that could’ve gone to.”
I continued to mourn and in my usual state of melodrama, decided to visit Compendium Design Store, Compendium being my local Stolen stockist, only to find they no longer stock Stolen and haven’t for a while. Another blow. It has now been replaced by a selection of quirky travel guides and homewares, essentially a bunch of stocking fillers and last minute gift ideas.
Now the unsettling realisation. I realised that one day in the near future, I’m going to rely on people like my friends, both the art lovers and the impartial, to be motivated enough and to find value in spending actual, real life money on the outputs of designers, like me. And, in turn, for ‘off the wall’, Fremantle design stores to keep me on the shelf.
But the lack of support is only one aspect of this downfall. As the architectural and design profession moves towards a more environment conscious future, the hard copy creeps closer to being a mere contradiction. They are two mutually exclusive fields that struggle to find much common ground. For analogue designers who find more comfort looking at a blank piece of paper than a blank computer screen, this is something quite unnerving to come to terms with. It consequentially made me think, maybe the only solution is to take that scary BIM unit I’ve been trying so very hard to avoid.
Whether its a small publication, art or architecture, all designers are faced with the difficult task of marketing their work, which can be often seen as an unaffordable luxury. While digital marketing has lead to more exposure and accessibility to design than ever before, the problem of converting that into dollars still remains. I guess the answer simply lies in the designer producing quality content. Content which will turn a scroll/skim through a journal or webpage, into taking it up to the counter or subscribing to an online edition.