North & South magazine redesign.

Picked up a copy of the new look North & South magazine. Its tidy up is very smart and much needed. The venerable title has a reputation for outstanding writing, nurtured by the steady and talented hand of Robyn Langwell. She left in June after 22 years (she was the longest serving editor in New Zealand and made a fantastic contribution to the standard of magazine writing in this country - she and husband Warwick Roger are, together, probably, the most titanic force in publishing here).

"Much to admire and little to enjoy."
Samuel Johnson - referring to a manuscript submitted for praise.

By and large I like it the new N&S. It's better. I do feel that magazines are tending to look like very smart, interchangeable templates. Without being churlish, there are overtones of Notebook magazine and Marie Claire - possibly also Martha Stewart's Blueprint magazine. You get the point.

Design, or rather good taste has become commoditised/generic. I have a feeling that design companies are heading for the same melt-down that ad agencies have. Yes, nicely done. Yes, very creative…but…so…what? I can buy a version of the same thing down the street.

Have we become so over-designed and slick that the ultimate effect is not to differentiate but to homogenise.

Design isn't about design. Great design isn't the difference it makes the difference.


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