We have received so many online comments, emails and phone calls since announcing the end of timber+DESIGN, it would have been rude not to respond.
Some of you asked if we were angry that such a good quality publication received so little advertising support, particularly from the Australian and New Zealand timber industries.
An example was this email from Alister Murray, executive secretary of the Furniture & Cabinetmaking Assn of New Zealand: “For many years you have been the bellwether for the state of ‘things furniture’ in New Zealand and Australia, with an eye for innovation in timbers, design and quality production. It’s puzzling, almost annoying, that you do not appear to have been supported in your endeavours to produce a quality magazine about timber, furniture, furniture design etc. I always found your articles and photography interesting and stimulating . . . The industry’s survival depends very much on innovation, good design and the intelligent use of technology in its broadest sense – i.e. the sorts of issues you cover in your magazine.”
In his poem ‘Last Seat at the End’, the American poet Charles Bukowski confessed that he was always studying wood – of the bar: the grains, the scratches, the cigarette burns. There was something there but I couldn’t quite figure what it was – and that kept me going.
Of course, the now deceased ‘laureate of American low life’, as he was dubbed, was not the slightest bit interested in timber, per se. He was describing how drunks stay awake during long and solitary sessions by focusing on the minutiae around them.
And in a sense, that’s what we did with timber+DESIGN, except for two important differences: our enthusiasm for wood was genuine and drunkenness on the job was discouraged. We focused on the pleasure of unearthing and presenting a timber design project or furniture piece from somewhere around the world that few people would otherwise have seen, and thus had the chance to have been inspired by.
That, and a certain amount of ego, was what kept us going long after the wood people stopped advertising and hired PR consultants to get them ‘free’ publicity. It teed us off to the extent that most of their puffery went straight to Trash.
More vexing in many ways were the companies who wanted to advertise but wouldn’t pay unless they received a measured amount of tangible business from the placement. Incredibly, there are still companies out there who believe that’s how the marketing thing should work.
Now all that is behind us, there is a growing sense of excitement – certainly on my part – about getting started on some fresh opportunities. Or as Bukowski put it: My wrists are rivers and my fingers are words.
On behalf of everyone who ever worked on timber+DESIGN, thank you again for your kind words.
Tony Neilson – publishing editor