Disclaimer: This post is based on personal reactions, opinions and insights of a person outside the design and media industry. Rest assured, they are from an honest, objective viewpoint. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Design Folder and its core team.
[ Our first product wars entry is by our friend, Pasig Raver. After studying Architecture for two years, he moved on to Creative Writing after realizing that he really can't draw even if his life depended on it. ]
BEFORE STEP ONE, THERE’S STEP ZERO: An Idiot’s Guide to Choosing the Right Home Magazine for your Design Needs
Let’s say you’re all set renovating your 1 BR flat located somewhere in the middle of Mandaluyong. You’ve just cashed in that check from SSS and you’ve also talked to an Interior Designer friend of yours from college who’s willing to help you out provided you’ll buy her dinner at the restaurant of her choice. Then she asked you, “What do you want to do?” And, without batting an eyelash, you looked her straight in the eye and ever so confidently uttered the words, “I don’t have a clue.”
After paying for dinner (she just had to choose Apartment 1B in Salcedo Village), you rushed to the nearest bookstore to get the latest issues of the top design magazines out there. Not knowing which to pick, you bought all four. And this is step zero. Which of these four exorbitantly priced magazines will help turn your less than fab flat into a design mag worthy abode? The cab ride home took longer than usual because traffic was really heavy giving you enough time to browse through all four magazines, while contemplating how you spent close to P3000 in the span of 2 hours without even dropping by Tyler or Zara. And, here’s what you found out.
Homestyle, published by New Leaf Publications was the first thing you pulled out of your National Bookstore plastic bag because it was the tallest of the four. What struck you initially was its clean layout – articles weren’t all squeezed in one page and the photos weren’t restricted by margins, breathing life into the images. You also appreciated its diversity – there’s a whole section called “Well-Being” that takes a look at contributors’ views on what is out there beyond architecture and interior design (e.g. music, books, film, pets, travel, etc). But what turned you off was the editor’s closing essay on the passing of the late, former president Corazon Aquino and the detailing of the 7 Virtues followed by Catholics everywhere. Not that you’re against the promotion of those virtues, but it suddenly felt like those times in high school when everyone had to stand up for the closing prayer and you knew that no one’s focused on that virtual conversation with God. All you wanted to do was zip your bag (and the prayer leader’s mouth) and go home.
Contestant number 2 was the heaviest of the lot – ABS CBN Publishing’s Metro Home & Entertaining. You found the editor’s subtle wit a little bit amusing and got yourself ready for an interesting read ahead. Then, you saw what you’ve been dreading – articles with the tackiest titles. “Retropolitan Home” and “Taking Work Home – With Gusto” just didn’t cut it for you. And, their suggestion of throwing a “seaside shebang… dozens of feet above sea level” with its collection of all things beach-related just redefined post-modern kitsch (by “redefined,” you simply mean you wouldn’t be caught dead at that party, surrounded by an inflatable pool, orange Chinese lanterns, and cotton nets with wood accents). But, there definitely was light at the end of the tunnel with the magazine’s index, where one finds out where to get the pieces the articles featured that were remotely interesting. This section appealed to you the most – not that you can’t find it in the other mags – because it shows you which article you saw the particular piece you were interested in.
With your head reeling from the myriad of pictures and text you had to wade through, you realized that the cab driver has been trying to get your attention for the last 5 minutes. You handed him a hundred pesos worth of 5-peso coins then headed straight up to your own apartment. “Two done, two more to go,” you muttered to yourself as you fumble for the keys in your pocket.
Not like you’re really pressed for time, but you still grabbed another magazine on the way to the toilet. Your choice was random, but turned out to be the cheapest one at P140. This way you won’t feel bad if it were sullied when you set it on your wet bathroom tiles. Summit’s Real Living seemed like the best choice for toilet-reading material because of its layout. The condensed version of their articles can be found in dotted boxes found within the article itself. This makes the whole article seem a bit pointless; it’s like skipping pages when reading those Choose Your Own Adventure books – finding out what’s going to happen in the end before going through the events that lead to that kind of ending. There’s a cluttered feel to the whole magazine; text and images forming different collages, making the reader appreciate its novelty. You’re all for all things new and innovative but you felt that this was just too much. Good thing the table of contents happened to be on the first page allowing you to decide which article to read first and simply ignore the rest.
Your headache has gotten much worse and you regret not dropping by the drug store to get Advil. The last magazine in the bag, Mega Publications’ myHome, didn’t really help. Your right arm was treated to an intense workout – You had to keep flipping pages until you finally got rid of all of those ads (there’s one on every other page, and your suffering only ended after p. 85). It seemed endless and quite distracting, and maybe it was the magazine’s intention, to deceive you and make you think you’re reading an article when you’re really wasting time on an ad. You were drawn to their Corkboard page, but was greeted with disappointment when you finally got there. One can picture an actual corkboard peppered with tiny ads and maybe some quick how-to’s. All that was there were two short articles on a dining establishment and real estate.
All the articles in those different magazines were helpful. You were able to take a peek at the different homes that are indeed magazine worthy. Suggestions as to what pieces you can add to your lifeless interiors were made and you felt as if the whole design world really is your oyster. You will never run out of choices. These are tools used for a particular purpose. People buy design magazines for different reasons – to add to their coffee table literature collection or to help them make design decisions.
But knowing that you had to make a choice, you took a second look at your options. You want a mag that would reflect what you had in mind for your apartment. Real Living feels like a designer’s version of Candy Magazine – loud and messy. And, you’re not really looking for the next Real Living Cutie out there. myHome just had too many advertisements. You’re the most direct person you know; downright tactless, if you have to be. Metro Home had an interesting Index layout, but no other redeeming qualities. The editor’s writing style wasn’t really as riveting as you thought it was.
Homestyle, on the other hand, had the clean lines you envisioned for your home. And you see yourself as a multi-faceted individual – your interests can be quite eclectic. The magazine exhibits this by incorporating articles that looks at things that are outside the realm of design. And, you figure that the editor’s religiosity is a one-time thing. Not all magazines can be perfect.
Armed with this new insight, you quickly dialed your designer friend’s number and listened to her ring-back tone and wondered when people will grow tired of the alliterations of Lady Gaga. When she finally picked up, the only words you can say were, “So, what’s step one?”
Tags: homestyle, magazines, metro home, myhome, real living
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