Like many people, I am awash in a magazine tsunami. I subscribe to eleven magazines*, and several more come unbidden. This wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t want to actually read through each one. The small piles build up into large incriminating piles, an ever-present reminder that I have fallen behind. The magazines on my list frequently have great photos and interesting, informative articles, so once they are read, it seems just wrong to say goodbye and recycle them. But archiving so many titles would fill every square inch of my space in no time.
Always a believer in systems, and a fan of order and simplicity, I started a system 13 years ago to deal with my magazines. I keep a pile of each title, with the oldest issue on top. This way, I can read them in chronological order and get something out of the letters and responses to the previous issue. I carve out 45 minutes to read each issue. Longer, if it is interesting enough.
“Fine Homebuilding” and “Consumer Reports” are always archived because they are useful references; each is well-indexed and easy to search. For the other design magazines, any image, article, paragraph, poem, chart or advertisement that catches my attention, whether because it is great, awful, curious, odd, poignant, beautiful, or funny, gets clipped out and saved.
On a rainy day, (plentiful in Seattle), I go through the clippings. Those that still strike me as noteworthy are glued into blank spiral notebooks. The clippings are arranged rather casually, and lightly annotated.** Here’s a peek at random selections from several notebooks:
use of transparency at Liberal Arts and Science Center, Quatar College, by Kazuhiro Kojima + Kazuko Akamatsu/C+A with Arata Isozaki & i-NET
lyrical sky bridge by Wilkenson and Eyre Architects
red house by Jarmund/Vigsnaes, color inside cabinets and on door jambs
I’m now up to my seventh notebook. Culled from a tsunami of magazines (13 years x 12 issues/year x 7 design titles = 1092 issues). Pleasingly distilled, fun to look through.
* My magazines: Architect, Architectural Record, Consumer Reports, Dwell, Fine Homebuilding, The Funny Times, Metropolis, The New Yorker, Preservation, The Smithsonian, and Sunset. I got the following until they were discontinued: Nest, Progressive Architecture, and Architecture.
**My only regret, now that I have a blog, is that I didn’t write down complete attributions for the material, so that most of it can’t be directly reused. From now on, I will clip the author and/or photographer’s name with the material so that it can be properly credited.