This is an unusual edition of Newcity. I will explain after a bit of backstory.
At this time of year American culture narrows into a singular focus on the holidays. ‘Tis the season when tradition becomes an obsession. When maudlin becomes momentous.
In the media business, where rote is rued, this presents a problem. Most of us cave into holiday-themed issues, full of gift guides and “fresh takes on classic traditions!” all wrapped up in as creative a package as possible. Newcity published such an issue for most of our three-plus decades. Until we just could not do it again.
Whether toys or trinkets, Christmas presents are, in most cases, designed objects. And at their best, presents offer an opportunity to share design at its best, such as when we give a gift that delivers a welcome aesthetic improvement to the world of the recipient.
So we decided three years ago to devote our December issue to Designed Objects. Now it’s a tradition.
But that’s not even what makes this edition unusual. What does is our collaboration with Rick Valicenti and his team at Thirst Studio, wherein we basically turn over the entire feature, from content to design to cover, to his team. This not only outsources the work to an entity of singular expertise, but it shifts the entire POV in a novel direction away from the “usual” Newcity approach. But Thirst took it another step this year, by asking designers they’d featured over the last two years to each choose a different designer to feature and then conduct an interview. This bent the curatorial process even further from the center.
Though I wrote earlier about Christmas presents, few of the objects on these pages fit the bill in a traditional way. The best designers are artists, and the work they’re most interested in sharing is sometimes that with the least practical application. But visit their web sites. You might find something more practical. And remember that art, in all its impracticality, is perhaps the finest gift of all.
Designed Objects 2018
Look for Newcity’s December 2018 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week.