A couple of months ago my favorite magazine, Dwell, underwent a complete redesign. I wasn’t impressed at all. In fact I was disappointed enough to write a letter to the editor exclaiming my distaste for their design decisions. Apparently it was published in the latest issue:
"I've been a loyal reader for 5 years. I've always looked forward to every issue. And over the past few months I've been anticipating a redesign of the magazine. And to be honest, I'm very surprised at the choices that were settled on. I applaud you for reducing your environmental footprint by decreasing page size and switching to recycled stock. Though I will miss the texture and weight of the former design.
"What's really confusing me are the new typography choices and your new grid. I'm not sure what font you've chosen for your tagline and body copy, but it may as well be Cooper Black. It's very difficult to read and seems incredibly dated. The grid you've chosen is blowing my mind and not in a good way. I've always enjoyed your stories—but I've loved soaking in your photos even more. For me, Dwell is all about the photography. On my first perusal, I only saw one full bleed photo! A vast majority of them were framed by a half inch boarder on all sides. So you've reduced your page size and you've smooshed your beautiful photos even smaller to fit into this needless frame! Not to mention your folios now feel utterly crammed in the corners. It seems like an amateurish mistake.
"It honestly doesn't make any sense. You may as well cut the page size down to the photos themselves and save even more trees, since a half inch on all sides is being wasted anyway. Please let those photos breathe and for heaven's sake give us our beautiful, all-caps tagline font back! Your masthead was great, if you want to bump up the size, fine—but there's no need to mess with typographic perfection.
"I have to admit, if the overall design of the new Dwell doesn't improve significantly over the next few issues, I hate to say it—but I may be looking for another modern-stuff resource."
Okay, so maybe I overreacted a little. But honestly the first couple of redesigned issues we’re straight up fugly. Maybe my letter helped. I still love the mag, the subsequent issues have improved design-wise and I don’t plan on ending my subscription. So if any Dwell folks are reading this post (doubt it), I appreciate you applying some of my suggestions—keep up the good work.