The spectacle that is the international design fair comes and goes on a predictable rotation—Stockholm, Milan, Shanghai, London, Eindhoven, Miami, among others, and back again—with the best products and installations broadcast as a continual, if fleeting, digital feed of colorful images and insights. Fiera, a biannual independent print magazine, gives that flood of work a longer shelf life, with a focus on emerging designers.
ARCHITECT recently checked in with its editor, Katie Treggiden, a London-based design blogger who crowdfunded the publication’s launch in 2014, to learn more about its latest issue, which covers Northmodern in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Stockholm Furniture Fair, Ambiente in Frankfurt, Germany, and, of course, Milan Design Week.
has Fiera evolved from its inaugural issue?
Issue 02 is the magazine I wanted to make. Inevitably there were a few teething issues with Issue 01, which I think we've addressed in Issue 02. The Opinion section is much stronger and I think we better fulfill the promise of providing a platform for design that solves the problems we face today. Features like Bottom Ash [a photo essay of the leftovers from waste incineration], Holy Crap [coverage of the recent "Eat Shit" exhibition at the Design Academy Eindhoven], and Basket Case [interviews detailing the eponymous project that works with weavers in Zimbabwe] really deliver on that promise.
With the proliferation of digital
media—allowing someone to virtually experience these events from nearly
anywhere in real time—why does the design community need a
publication like Fiera?
The online coverage of design fairs is brilliant. It's immediate and dynamic, but in some ways it's as transient as the fairs themselves. Fiera exists to provide a lasting record of a moment in time. I hope people will collect well-thumbed copies on their desks and refer back to them year after year.
How do you determine what designers and work
I'm interested in new designers—who are often, but not necessarily, young designers—who still believe in the impossible: that design can change the world. New designers are tackling huge problems and coming up with brilliant ideas, but without PR representation or advertising budgets, they can find it hard to get coverage in mainstream titles, which often go to print before the design shows they're featured in.
Issue 02 covers four shows: Northmodern, the Stockholm Furniture Fair, Ambiente, and Milan Design
Week. What were some of the recurring themes specifically around emerging
The three key trends raised across the four shows and covered in this issue are: work that explores the intersection of handmade craft and mass production; the idea of using waste as a resource; and embracing and celebrating imperfections.
Can you elaborate on the rationale for
the "Another Chair?" illustrations, essay, and social media campaign in Issue 02?
"Does the world need another chair?" is a question often leveled at the design industry, especially during tradeshow season. It's one that carries more weight than ever before as concerns over the environment become more pressing. We asked up-and-coming illustrators to give their view, as well as our Twitter followers to comment on the topic, and John Miller, founding director of U.K. furniture maker Mark Product, to give a long-form response.
What would you like a young designer
to get out of reading Fiera?
The magazine is not actually targeted at young designers, although I very much hope they are reading it and being inspired by it. Our target audience comprises the manufacturers, interior designers, architects, specifiers, and buyers who might be able to take these new designers' ideas and make them a reality.
Are international design events, in
particular, doing enough to support emerging designers?
Design events are increasingly supporting new designers because they realize that's what people want to see. Ambiente Frankfurt had a whole section dedicated to new designers called Ambiente Talents. Northmodern was well-curated to include a lot of up-and-coming talent, and the main Salone at Milan has Salone Satellite, but the Stockholm Furniture Fair is probably the best supporter for new talent with its Greenhouse hall dedicated to students and recent graduates.
I enjoyed the issue's "Walking the Show" interviews with design professionals about how they approach a day at a tradeshow. So I’d like to ask you: What was
your method for scouting design fairs while preparing this issue of Fiera?
I get up very early, have coffee and a good breakfast (because I often forget to eat for the rest of the day), wear trainers (as I can be on my feet from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m.), and make a methodical plan to make sure I don't miss anything. I try to be as efficient as possible so I can take my time once I get to a show. I like to talk to the designers about their work, and I'll always take a card so I can follow up with more questions when I get home. I use a DSLR camera to shoot their products for the magazine and my iPhone for social-media content. I don't write when I'm away because I want to spend every single second seeing what's there; I can't do that once I get home. After a full day of seeing shows, I'll usually connect with friends or colleagues for dinner and then attend one of the many industry parties, where I'm still on the lookout for new designers. I don't switch off! A few hours of sleep and then I do it all again the next day.
What can we expect from Fiera Issue 03?
It will be out in early December, covering the London Design Festival, Design Event (in Newcastle, U.K.), Dutch Design Week, and Dubai Design Week. Until I get to those shows, I can't tell you what will be in there, but I'm excited to find out!
This interview has been edited and condensed.