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Works that work

Peter Bilak, former editor of dot dot dot magazine and founder of design studio Typotheque is launching a new design magazine Works that work – if, and only if, the start-up costs are met by November 15th! 

By Katie Dominy / 19-10-2012

Launched yesterday with a fundraising time limit of 30 days, Peter Bilak is looking for 18,000 euros to cover the start-up costs of his new magazine Works that work, a  publication dedicated to 'pure inspiration from the real world' to be seen as 'a kind of National Geographic of design'.

Readers can choose to pledge €100 euros as a patron through to €8,000 as an exclusive partner. With two issues a year, as both print and online editions, look out for the first copy in February 2013. spoke to Peter Bilak about the new venture.

Why did you decide to start a new magazine?

“I consider myself a curious person, but I lost interest in reading most design publications because they seem to be fairly repetitive, covering well know people and their projects. I was thinking about what would be alternative to this, something which would confront me with stuff I have no idea about, but still be relevant to my work. Something that broadens my mind and exposes me to completely different ways of thinking. The only magazine that fitted this criteria was National Geographic, so I used it as a metaphor - with the ambition to make a kind of National Geographic of design.”

What will be in the magazine?

“The magazine will publish original essays and stories on subjects connected with design, presenting projects that change the way you perceive them. For example in the first issue we will cover the urinals at Schiphol airport (where adding the tiny fly 'aim' can save up to 80% in spillage and cleaning costs), report on the dabbawallas' home-cooked food distribution network in Mumbai, India, which famously achieves just one mistake for every eight million deliveries, despite using an illiterate workforce, a feat unmatched by high-tech western courier companies; an article on ‘Shared Space’, an example being how removing traffic signs and traffic lights can actually improve road safety, a detailed look at the visual translator guides used by US Army in Afghanistan and what role a translator has in the understanding of a literary author published in a foreign language. I interview Linda Asher, translator of Czech author Milan Kundera and Balzac, and discuss the often invisible profession of the translator who negotiates the relationship between writer and reader.”

Who will be writing for the magazine?

“A range of contributors, they are not necessarily design writers, but journalists and writers. Contributors writing for the first two issues include: Rob Cameron, BBC journalist, Meena Kadri, OpenIDEO, Justin McGuirk, Design critic, The Guardian, Linda Archer, former New Yorker magazine editor, Dingeman Kuilman, former director Premsela, Rico Gagliano, NPR host, Gordon Mathews, anthropologist and Alice Twemlow, design writer. In addition, we have work from a number of world-class photographers, some of which are the World Press Photo winners.”

Can you explain the fundraising process?

“I was previously the publisher/editor of Dot Dot Dot magazine, which to begin with received generous support from the Fonds van Beeldende Kunst. The time is different now and the same grants are not available anymore. Which doesn't mean we can't do a project like this. The magazine is initiated by my company Typotheque without any external funding. That's why we created this fundraising website, to collect some money to cover the start up costs. Our goal may seem high, €18,000 euros in 30 days, but it is the minimal capital to get started, the actual costs of this project is much higher. If this goal of €18,000 is not met in time, we refund all the money back to our supporters. I think this kind of financing has become more common (especially in the US) and may be applied here also, where people previously relied on public funding.I enjoy the challenge that besides creating great content and layout of the magazine, we need to figure out our relationship with readers and sponsors, so solving the financing is part of design problem to deal with.”

Images: preliminary layouts for February issue

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