The latest exhibition at the Design Institute of Australia’s Design Gallery in Melbourne has just opened, detailing the history of Artichoke magazine – the influential Australian design magazine officially endorsed by the Design Institute of Australia.
Artichoke magazine commenced as an experimental publication twelve years ago and has since grown into one of the leading design magazines in Australia. It contains interesting articles and opinions on a diverse range of design subjects including interior architecture and design, product, textile and graphic design. The exhibition tracks Artichoke‘s progress from humble beginnings to its current position as an engaging quarterly magazine, widely regarded as one of Australia’s most respected design titles.
Speaking at the exhibition opening, Cameron Bruhn, Editorial Director of Architecture Media, said that ‘’For twelve years the pages of Artichoke magazine have recorded the achievements of Australian design professionals. ‘Endorsed as the official magazine of the Design Institute of Australia, it is a collaborative partnership with the design community. ‘Artichoke is a forum for design ideas and takes design thinking to a broad public audience. ‘Each issue has its own particular character, but as a suite they have one voice – a dialogue about design excellence and innovation.’
Design Gallery / Level 1, 175 Collins Street, Melbourne
Feb 23 to Mar 10, 2011
Mon to Fri, 10am – 4pm / Admission is free
A Selective History
In late 1998, with Sydney Design 99 – an important national design event – approaching fast, the Design Institute of Australia (DIA) was keen for a new publication that would reach out to the design community – the next generation of earlier communications like DIAlogue and DIAgram.
Artichoke’s genesis was a brainstorming session. Controversial and provocative, its name comes from a colloquial term for designers. Or so one story goes. Intriguing, catchy and nothing to do with food, the name caught on and Artichoke was born.
Edited by Geoff Fitzpatrick, a national councillor of the DIA, designed by Cornwell Design under the creative eye of Steven Cornwell and published by Ian Close of Architecture Media, the newsletter drew its inspiration and content from the diverse membership of the DIA. Geoff brought a depth of knowledge, experience and involvement with the DIA that few could match.
Steven was enthusiastic and passionate about graphic design and design generally, and Ian was experienced in successful commercial publishing of design titles. Together they guided Artichoke’s editorial and creative direction.
The first issue of Artichoke magazine landing on DIA members’ desks was different. A wrapped pack of loose cards that could be shuffled, arranged and read in any order – it was a different experience for anyone who picked it up. You could read it from the back, start in the middle or select cards at random. The second issue was conventionally bound but with scissor marks suggesting you could cut it out. And perhaps you needed to – its pages came in all orientations.
And so it went.
Dramatic, bold and definitely unconventional in appearance, the publication attracted attention. Its content ranged across the gamut of design – interiors, exhibitions, product, sculpture, furniture, jewellery, graphics and more. Some loved it. There were reports of favourable reviews in the English Creative Review and that local media notables were after their personal copies. Some loved it less, describing it as “undergraduate” and advocating for a professionally edited, textbased publication. It was great fun to make but it was also intensely demanding. Gradually the practicalities of producing a labourintensive quarterly communication prevailed. The format evolved with more defined sections and regular contributors. But the edgy, unexpected graphics remained a continuing feature, even if scaled back.
However, making a publication and distributing it to a growing membership costs. To grow and evolve, Artichoke needed a firmer commercial basis and, potentially, full-time staffing. Up to that time, publication relied significantly on contributions from the original group and some, initially in-kind, support from suppliers, with the costs underwritten by Architecture Media.
So, after thirteen issues, Artichoke the second generation (series 02) came into being. Launched in November 2002, it remained engaging, diverse, and thought provoking, retaining the values embedded in the earlier issues. The launch invitation described it as: a new element, a quality publication, grown from the essence of the original, with features of substance, collaboration essential, a combination of design disciplines, bound to create a reaction, essential for those passionate about creativity.
Less unconventional in format, more suited to an extended distribution through bookshops and newsagencies, and, importantly, more appealing to a broader range of advertisers, Artichoke magazine could now reach out to a wider reading audience. Still endorsed as the DIA’s national publication, Artichoke the magazine had evolved.
David Robertson, national president of the DIA at the time, welcomed readers to the “first publicly available issue of what ’til now has been the private voice of the professional design industry,” saying that in Artichoke we explore the layers of design and expose “those shared values and beliefs that bind the design community.”
Geoff Fitzpatrick, who had taken up the role of consulting editor, wrote: “Artichoke has design at its core and presents expert, informed opinion and commentary on all of design’s diverse aspects – by designers who are practitioners, educators and observers.” Shortly after, The Financial Review Magazine described Artichoke as a quarterly that “promises to take both design professional and general reader seriously.” And in 2006, the AFR’s Boss magazine described it as “Too cool,” listing it as one of “50 Hot Ideas.”
The current series has had various people holding the editorial reins, each one giving the magazine an individual touch but always recognizing the strength and importance of collaboration, referred to in that 2002 invitation, and the shared values underpinning the original. Some of these underpinnings are reflected in the series of pictorial pieces run in the magazine in 2007–2008, each presenting a value statement shared by Artichoke and the practice depicted.
Along the way Artichoke has contributed through other initiatives to the advancement and recognition of good design – as a founding partner of the Australian Interior Design Awards program, through the Artichoke Night School series of design talks and other offerings like the Artichoke Student Prize.
But Artichoke magazine’s place would not be possible without the support of the members of the profession and the broader design community – the practitioners, academics, commentators and others who support the magazine in so many ways – and the suppliers who advertise in its pages.
The publication has always drawn from the profession it serves. Without the work of the designers who create the work, the skill of the photographers who capture it, the thoughtful words from contributors and the creative graphics that pull each issue together, Artichoke would be far less rich. It is truly a powerful collaboration.
Currently, Artichoke magazine takes Australian design to countries like Bahrain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, the USA, Vietnam and beyond.
After thirteen issues of the initial series and thirty-four issues of the magazine series, with more to come, Artichoke has established itself as a major voice, which indeed takes the design professional and the general reader seriously – talking about, challenging and communicating a passion for design excellence.
List of works
Cardboard sculpture Artichoke Seating by Toby Horrocks
Toby Horrocks of Freefold Furniture has previously interpreted Architecture Mediafour design titles for the recent Design Media in Australia exhibition at the Gallery of Australian Design, Canberra, using corrugated fibreboard fabricated by Visy. The cardboard pieces interlocked at right angles to create threedimensional forms with refined and deliberate edges and undulating shapes. The installations began as a computer-modelled arch – a basic architectural figure – that was stretched, twisted, squashed and pulled to create an abstract icon representing each magazine.
The Artichoke seat represented the magazine by alluding to a bench seat and table, its organic form a visual pun on the word “artichoke.”
Artichoke favourites – 12 x key contributors to Artichoke magazine over the last twelve years were asked to nominate their favourite article, theme, writer or photographer.
1. Sharrin Rees / Photographer
2. Lynn Churchill / Writer Senior Lecturer / Curtin University Director, RAD Architecture
3. Steven Cornwell / Cornwell Design
4. Rob Backhouse / Managing Director, Hassell
5. Geoff Fitzpatrick / National Strategy Director, Design Institute of Australia
6. Ryan Russell / Designer Russell & George
7. Dianna Snape / Photographer
8. Janine Wurfel / Graphic Designer Qube Konstrukt
9. Joanne Cys LFDIA / Associate Professor, University of South Australia / Immediate Past President, Design Institute of Australia
10. Marcus Baumgart / Writer Designer, Williams Boag Architects
11. Penny Craswell / Current Editor, Artichoke
12. Kirsten Stanisich / Writer Director, SJB Interiors
Artichoke graphic design
In 2002, Architecture Media approached Qube Konstrukt to design a newsstand version of Artichoke.
Originally a newsletter for the Design Institute of Australia, the initial brief involved creating a new identity, masthead and a template that had longevity. For the initial design we referenced an art journal aesthetic to reflect the magazine’s diverse content. The clean back cover and patterned varnish emphasise this journal feel.
Once the identity of the magazine had been established Qube Konstrukt began giving the projects more personality by adding handcrafted titles. For each issue we consider how the nature and aesthetic of the theme can be communicated through the typography. Now in its seventh year of publication the studio has constantly refined and renewed the template