Harvard Design Magazine steps out

Over the past two years, the Office of Communications has been busy rethinking the School’s publications program, with the first major change being a new approach for Harvard Design Magazine. Launched at the 14th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, the inaugural issue celebrates the magazine’s new orientation carried out by recently appointed editor in chief Jennifer Sigler, together with associate editor Leah Whitman-Salkin and creative director Jiminie Ha (With Projects, Inc.). Speaking with Designers and Books about the redesign process and the making of a design magazine today, Sigler noted:

We’re not called a “School of Architecture” … we’re a School of Design. That name leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The magazine takes advantage of that ambiguity—it juxtaposes design, as we understand it in architecture, with other forms of design thinking. Unlike “architecture,” the word “design” can be used as a verb—it suggests an action or process, not a product. It’s what we do. The magazine is concerned more with this process, how it is understood and applied across a range of disciplines, than with particular objects. The design of the built environment is still the central focus, but as a process of interdisciplinary collaboration and communication.

The first issue of the magazine—titled “Do You Read Me?”—invites “reading” across disciplinary boundaries, and stakes out an expanded arena for architecture and design dialogue. The question anticipates a response: “Loud and clear!” But it also suggests the possibility for distortion, misinterpretation, or evaporation of the message. This issue is about reading and misreading, and the role of design in streamlining or garbling the exchange between sender and receiver, writer and reader, maker and user.

The magazine combines contributions by noted critics and historians including Sanford Kwinter, Ines Weizman, and Kazys Varnelis; practitioners Diébédo Francis Kéré, Philippe Rahm, and Stephen Bates; as well as unexpected voices like technology pioneer Alan Kay, poets Eileen Myles and Tan Lin, musician Vijay Iyer, theorist Homi K. Bhabha, and many others.

In addition to the new print magazine, the Harvard Design Magazine team has built a new website, that celebrates the magazine’s history through making available a huge amount of archival essays and every table of contents.

As the magazine shifts and grows, it has also reoriented its business strategy. It’s come a long way since its days as an alumni newsletter. We are pleased to offer GSD alumni 2 issues a year for a $14 annual subscription (50% off the regular subscription rate) Using the discount code GSDalum2014, orders can be placed via our subscription partner Speedimpex. Just enter the code when checking out.

This exciting moment in the history of Harvard Design Magazine and the School should not be overlooked—subscribe now to receive the forthcoming issue “Wet Matter,” available in early 2015.