Why Portland Needs a Magazine Devoted to Design

Our executive editor meditates on the spaces and makers that deserve a fittingly stylish platform to show off their successes.

By Rachel Ritchie October 5, 2015 Published in the Design Annual: Fall 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Read Portland Monthly's 2015 Design Annual Now!

I bought a house this spring. I’m still not quite sure what strange planetary alignment inspired my fiancée and me to plunge headlong into the Portland real estate market precisely as it reached a crescendo of competitive insanity, but we did. And now we find ourselves immersed in what my grandfather was fond of calling “pride of ownership.” No longer do missing bits of molding or fraying, post-college-holdover furniture seem charming. Our space is an extension of us, and we are thus highly attuned to its state. Paint colors have new significance. Weeds are the enemy. Dusting is now a thing.

Given all that, magazines like this one grab my attention in a new way. Articles and images that once seemed aspirational and ultimately directed at other people now provide functional fodder for new ideas and weekend projects. “Makers” are now potential collaborators. Species names I can’t pronounce are scrawled on a running list titled “drought-tolerant plants to plant!”

At their best, magazines about design can serve as a little guide to crafting your own world. All of which makes me glad that we decided last year to add our Design Annual to Portland Monthly’s run of regular issues. Certainly the subject felt ripe for journalistic exploration: Portland’s design community is the midst of explosive growth and a creative golden age, with no shortage of stories to tell or inspiring, provocative projects to showcase. This was a magazine Portland needed, and we found the enthusiastic response to last year’s launch issue both gratifying and humbling. In their annual awards program, our colleagues at the national City and Regional Magazine Association honored our 2014 Design Annual with the top prize in the Home/Shelter category—which naturally required an extra round of “desk whiskey” here at PMHQ. But in the note accompanying the award, the CRMA judges hit on the real truth: It wasn’t really about us. “A well-curated collection of clever stories combined with vibrant photography, solid reporting and strong service makes this annual indispensable,” they wrote. “The magazine pays tribute to Portland’s creative stars, and the resources available to its style lovers.”

And that’s the best part. Yes, art director Mike Novak did an excellent job creating the magazine’s bold, crisp look, and much of our staff contributed skillful writing and reporting to the project. But really, our city made it great—the tinkerers, the architects, the innovators, and the aesthetic obsessives. So thank you, Portland, for continuing to inspire. We hope we did you justice this time around. Personally, I’ve been feverishly riffling through these pages, even before they printed, looking for the next idea for the old homestead.

Rachel Ritchie
Executive Editor

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