Conversation: Talking with Elias Redstone, of Archizines

The exhibition in Osaka. design museum de sign de > (Osaka) Photography: Kenta Hasegawa.

Around the world, there is a thriving culture of architectural publishing. Ranging from architectural magazines to fanzines and journals, they’re written and edited by architects, artists and students. Inspired by their breadth, depth and insight, Elias Redstone has showcased dozens of these titles on his Archizines Web site. The project has expanded to include a touring exhibition, which will next stop at UCLA A.UD—opening on April 12 at the school’s Perloff Hall.

Intrigued by his vision and the publications, we spoke with Redstone about the project, his inspiration and vision. To hear more about the project, he will be part of a panel discussion on April 12, moderated by Sylvia Lavin, UCLA architecture and urban design professor and director of critical studies.

 

How did this come about? Was there a particular publication that caught your eye and started it all?

I became interested in independent publishing through visiting zine and art book fairs and meeting people making publications about architecture that were so different to the established architectural press. They felt so fresh and personal, with a real passion for architecture in all it forms. I met editors in the mid 2000s including Felix Burrichter and Pablo Leon de la Barra who went on to start PIN–UP and Pablo Internacional Magazine. Meeting these people, and many more since, inspired me to start collecting this emerging generation of independent architecture magazines, which I collectively termed ‘Archizines’. I soon began discovering new titles wherever I travelled and realised this was a global phenomenon.

The touring exhibition is my way of celebrating the most influential and inspiring magazines, fanzines and student journals injecting an independent and alternative spirit into architectural publishing. The exhibition at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s Perloff Gallery surveys 90 publications from over 20 countries alongside video interviews with their creators. These publications provide new platforms for commentary, criticism and research into the spaces we inhabit and the practice of architecture. Edited by architects, artists and students, they make an important, and often radical, addition to architectural discourse and demonstrate the residual love for printed matter in the digital age.

 

Why have the publications suddenly blossomed around the world? What in the current climate is driving the interest?

There is a long history of architectural publishing with previous generations well documented, such as the Clip Stamp Fold research project that explored little architecture magazines of the 1960s and 1970s. What is unique now is that these publications are flourishing in the digital age. Instead of just publishing online, so many people still believe in the importance and power of print. All the publications in the exhibition are responding in one way or another to the Internet—whether sourcing content and reaching audiences, or reacting against the ephemeral nature of websites.

There are a few factors that are driving the proliferation of publishing activity we are seeing today. The economic downturn has made publishing a comparatively affordable way for expressing ideas or thinking about architecture. It is also partly a response to existing publications – people feel that there are different ways to consider architecture and our build environment that are not being addressed. So they are investing time and energy to put their own ideas out there instead.

At the same time, for some people printed matter is a basic creative instinct. They grew up in the self- publishing, zine culture of the 80s and 90s and continue to use publishing as a means of expression and connecting with people.

 

Can you speak a little about the irony that these print publications are coming to wider audience because of your online project?

The irony was not lost on me! The first part of the project was to identify new publishing and communicate the project around the world, and the best way to do this was on the internet. I launched the www.archizines.com in January 2011 and immediately I was receiving emails from people putting out publications in the USA, Australia, China and dozens of other countries. I am constantly contacted by publications that hear about the project and want to be part of it, and the collection is still growing.

The website also allowed me to start cataloguing and comparing the publications I was collecting. Along with a Facebook page, the website is also the focus for information about the touring exhibition which, since launching at the Architectural Association in London has toured to venues in 17 cities including Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, the Irish Architecture Foundation in Dublin, RMIT Design Hub in Melbourne and the Tokyo Art Book Fair.

 

Since the show is coming to LA, what’s your take on the city’s architecture scene?

I love LA! Not everyone enjoys LA’s particular form of urbanism, but it seems to breed an experimental and exciting architecture scene and has nurtured pioneering movements and styles from modernism to contemporary, digital practices. I will be doing some archi-tourism when I visit for the exhibition at UCLA Architecture and Design.

 

What can more mass-market publications learn from these publications?

Archizines is not a critique of the mainstream. These publications have established audiences and deliver a high quality product. However, Archizines will hopefully show that there are multiple voices and approaches to writing and thinking about architecture.

 

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