As part of the long, painful spiral that magazines and newspapers are in, the
genre known as "Shelter" magazines have not been immune. In this country, Domino, Metropolitan
& Garden have all
perished, as have smaller titles like Oprah Winfrey's O
at Home and Martha
Stewart's Blueprint. Yet
surprisingly, while tiles such as these have closed in the US, a vibrant new
generation of interior design titles are rising in Russia, Brazil and especially
These aren't webzines, but real magazines, printed on glossy paper and which
serve as a showcase for a rising market in those countries featuring the latest
in appliances, style, furniture and fixtures. In a model we've all seen, they
take the reader through the homes of the rich and famous, and are thick with
advertisers eager to reach this burgeoning market.
is all about the explosion of the middle class and the mass urbanization of
certain countries," claims Mark Strauss, president of Interior Design Media
Group, a division of Sandow Media, which prints Interior
Design and Luxe magazines
as well as the trade newspaper Furniture
Today in the United
States. "People are starting to have nicer homes, so they want nicer things,
which in turn means that they want to see what those nicer things are."
Sandow acquired Surface
Asia, Surface China and Interior
Design China this past
April, each of which Strauss described as "becoming incredibly successful in a
very short period of time."
"I'm now looking to Korea," he said.
Eager to join in, Conde Nast's Architectural
Digest launched a Chinese edition this April, and the Indian
version is scheduled to launch in 2012.
But it's not just the "foreign devils" who are cashing in on the phenomenon.
Local publishers are in the hunt as well, and more than a dozen new design
magazines have launched in Russia alone over the last two years.
Home Magazine is
just such a title. A Russian magazine started in 2009, at 10,000 their
circulation is modest by American standards, but they have attracted some of the
most influential advertisers in the home furnishing industry.
Editor in Chief Natalia Pirogova explains that "many people have become rich
here, so they're moving from small apartments into large houses," adding that
"interior design has suddenly become very important for them."
In Brazil, a magazine called Casa
Vogue is a spin off of the famed fashion magazine and has been
publishing for close to 25 years, but for the first time is facing serious
competition for advertising revenue. New titles such as Bamboo,
Wish Casa and Minha
Casa have strong appeal
to the growing middle class.
Yet with more than 20% of the earth's population, it is the Chinese
marketplace that is truly surging. Dozens of new titles have been launched in
this genre over the last few years, many with English language names such as Home
Idea Magazine, Residence (pictured
here), and my personal favorite, Home-My Living.
Despite the cachet of their English language title, all the headlines are
Cantonese or Mandarin.
Sandow's Mark Strauss asks: "Is there a real estate bubble going on there or
not? Either way you have a lot more people with bigger homes that have to be
furnished," and noted that China's residents live in an astonishing number of
cities equal to or larger than Los Angeles.
surprisingly, it is to L.A. that the Chinese often turn for ideas, as modern
California style is exploding.
California designer Jamie Bush says that within the last six months, "all of
a sudden, the calls started coming in. Five separate Chinese publications have
contacted me in just a few months, and many of them have featured my projects."
This year alone, Bush has also been featured in magazines in Russia, Brazil
and Bulgaria, and he will be featured in an upcoming edition of Architectural
In our lifetimes, we've seen "Made in Japan", "Made in Hong Kong", "Made in
Korea" and "Made in China", among others. Maybe the tide will turn if we know
how to capitalize on it. Maybe we'll see a time a time when "Made in America"
will be the hot item, like it was for most of the last century. If the American
publishers can find a way to extend their brands and increase profits in
these developing markets, we're all for it. One can only hope that they don't
make the same mistakes they've made here.
This article originally appeared on
July 21, 2011