Standard Magazine Hits The Virtual Newsstand

There is something about magazines that we have not been able to match in the online world, and that is art direction- the look and feel, the seamless continuity between advertising and content. The online world doesn't even use the term, preferring to call it "information architecture". That is why I am so intrigued by the trend towards online green shelter porn like Kelly LaPlante's new Standard and Celine Mackay's Pure Green Living; They use a magazine-like format but exist only online. I can't decide if it is the best of both worlds or an anachronism.

LaPlante's mantra is one that we share: Green is a standard, not a style.. She then notes that none of the green buzzwords will appear, from green to recyclable to sustainable. Just assume it's our standard. Kelly says in her press release:

"Why are we giving brownie points for ideas and qualities that should be standard? If a product is not made with respect to the planet--and to people--it simply will not appear in the pages of this publication. Not ever."

In fact, you would never know it was about green living at all, looking at the content.

There are, as always, shades of green. There are no prototypes for the small house movement here, but there are lovely prefabs by Marmol Radziner.

I do think there are some problems with the magazine analogy, that it can be taken too far. Why ruin a great photograph with a line and shadow down the middle to make it look like a two page spread? Surely we don't have to be that literal.

The format is a great way to bring a generation of readers who don't deal well with conventional online publications into the paperless world, to deliver a look that is similar to the magazines they loved before they went the way of Domino and House and Garden. But it won't run on an iPad; it's flash. I cannot imagine the wired generation taking to what seems to be a bit of an anachronism, a throwback. Yet I love the controlled art direction. I wish there was a format that did both.

Six years ago, TreeHugger was founded to try and take sustainability mainstream, using the newest communications technologies; it and the other green blogs hit a tiny fraction of the population. Perhaps this format will reach a different audience and, as George Bush so eloquently put it, grow the pie. Read it all at Standard.

Tags: Designers


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