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Which Overpriced Hipster Design Magazine Is for You?

Japanese handicrafts, West Coast gardens, and extremely expensive denim—take your pick.

By Zach Dundas September 21, 2017 Published in the Design Annual: Fall 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

Da2017 design mags casa brutus wl1us9

Image: Michael Novak

You’ve seen them (though never heard of them): brilliantly obscure, beautiful, often pricey design magazines. Where do these things come from? And which one is worth your $20? Or even just $7?

Casa Brutus (above)

From Tokyo
The vibe Mostly Japanese, all beautiful handicrafts and housewares
You are Proof that high-quality wabi sabi tableware changes lives
Typical article About 80 consecutive pages about ceramics
$22.99, Books Kinokuniya at Uwajimaya,

Da2017 design mags mark ibb1p3

Image: Michael Novak


From Amsterdam
The vibe Very brainy, very pretty, insiderish explorations of new, major architecture
You are Wearing very angular eyeglasses and snarking about Rem Koolhaas
Typical article The February-March 2017 spread on a “pale-green, sponge-like structure [that] has arisen at the edge of the university campus in Guimarães, Portugal”
$19.95 (but sometimes on sale for less than half that), Rich’s,

Da2017 design mags disegno x41tbw

Image: Michael Novak


From London
The vibe Dissects the science, politics, and economics behind design
You are Interested in the global history of plastic and suchlike. And kind of intense.
Typical article Spring 2017’s 14-pager on genetic engineering, illustrated with photos from vintage natural history museums
$19.75, Rich’s,

Da2017 design mags pacific horticulture eeepoe

Image: Michael Novak

Pacific Horticulture

From Berkeley
The vibe Dating to 1968, the Pacific Horticultural Society’s quarterly is serious about Left Coast gardens.
You are Trancing out on a rhododendron right now
Typical article “Tumwater Tropical: Bold Color and Foliage in the Maritime Northwest” —Spring 2017
$10, Powell’s,

Da2017 design mags kinfolk ymgpea

Image: Michael Novak


From Copenhagen (formerly Portland ... and also formerly Lincoln City)
The vibe Started as a guide to twee organic-cotton lifestyles. Evolved into a fascinatingly quirky hodgepodge of art, culture, philosophy, and pretty things. It’s been a journey.
You are Almost European
Typical article Issue 24’s look back at the tortured life of English cellist Jacqueline du Pré, complete with groovy retro B&Ws
$18, many newsstands,

Da2017 design mags apartamento rq6vzk

Image: Michael Novak


From Barcelona
The vibe A small legend among design and magazine nerds, Apartamento projects a sort of shaggy-chic: rumpled intelligentsia and their artful bric-a-brac.
You are Surrounded by intentionally unintentional mountains of art books
Typical article In Spring/Summer 2017, Michael Stipe (that one) interviews Kim Hastreiter, founder of Paper magazine.
$19.95, Powell’s,

Da2017 design mags surface vkejl4

Image: Michael Novak


From New York
The vibe High-end architecture. High-end furniture. High-end fine art. High-end, yo.
You are More interested in watches and luxury boats than anyone knows
Typical article “Jader Almeida invites us into his seaside home and showroom on the Brazilian island of Florianópolis.” —May 2017
$15, Powell’s,

Da2017 design mags popeye bzhjlt

Image: Michael Novak


From Tokyo
The vibe The “Magazine for City Boys” (yes) is a Japanese take on a fixie-riding, sweater-wearing, bestubbled upscale masculinity.
You are Wearing extremely expensive denim, wishing you read Japanese
Typical article “City Boy’s Rooms and DIY” (in a summer 2017 issue featuring a retro stamped-metal “State of Oregon” sign on its cover)
$11.99, Books Kinokuniya at Uwajimaya,

Da2017 design mags atomic ranch atwky9

Image: Michael Novak

Atomic Ranch

From Irvine, California
The vibe Midcentury modern for middle America
You are The first arrival at every estate sale
Typical article Fall 2017’s discovery of a ranch-style reno in Prairie Village, Kansas
$6.99, Rich’s,

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