November 6, 2007
The Gehry Ghost House by Philip Johnson, 1984.
Hi. I’m back.
As you may have noticed, I have been blogging as the Itinerant Urbanist over at the House & Garden Magazine website since April. Yesterday word came from the pooh-bahs at Conde Nast Publications that H&G would cease to exist after the December issue, and the website would also be unplugged.
Aside from the fact that I feel bad about the demise of the magazine, and that I’m sure those who were actually on staff feel worse, I’m puzzled by the decision to toss out over a hundred years of brand equity. I understand perfectly why Conde Nast shuttered Mademoiselle — the premise of the magazine had outlived its usefulness — and Jane without Jane didn’t make much sense, but to kill off House & Garden in an era when people are more obsessed than ever with houses and gardens seems wrongheaded.
I won’t pretend that I had much to do with the day-to-day life of the magazine; my blog was a fairly autonomous enterprise. But I had noticed that the editors were working hard on making the magazine rev a little higher. The January issue, for instance, was guest edited by design-god Murray Moss. That issue, however, will never see the light of day.
I’m going to refrain, for the moment, from using the death of House & Garden to prognosticate about The Future of the Magazine or the Vulnerability of the Shelter Book. To me, this feels like a Conde Nast-specific event, all about corporate priorities, politics, and cash flow.
Anyway, I took the photo above while visiting Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut the other day. It’s a folly that Johnson built out of chain link fencing as a tribute to Frank Gehry. Because it’s a garden shaped like a house (or maybe a house shaped like a garden), it seems like a suitable memorial to the magazine: House & Garden 1901-2007 (minus that short hiatus in the 1990s).