Now in our fifth year, Design Observer is taking another step forward. It is with great pleasure we announce that Julie Lasky and Ernest Beck will be joining the Design Observer team as our website makes a major editorial expansion to incorporate new content under the banner of Change Observer.
With support from the Rockefeller Foundation and collaboration with the Winterhouse Institute, Change Observer will monitor and report on developments in the burgeoning area of design and social change — people and projects, ideas and initiatives. The goal is to professionally report on this topic, covering successes and failures, new models, places for engagement by NGOs and design firms, inspirational stories and critical appraisals, as well as summaries and guides to resources, tools and related news across the web. Change Observer will launch in the summer of 2009.
Design Observer began as an experiment in 2003, when a group of friends started a blog with no master plan or strategic goal except to write about what interested us in the world of design and beyond. We hoped others would join us, but we didn't know who our readers might be, or how many, or where they would come from.
We started with no agreed format, and indeed it was more than a year before we all sat down together to talk about what we were trying to do with the site. (Characteristically, the discussion was inconclusive.) But, despite our lack of planning, a format developed organically. Our main articles were miniature essays, sometimes about design but sometimes about things as far afield as Adolf Wölfli, Vladimir Nabokov, Ivan Picelj and American Idol. About a year and a half in, we introduced some guest writers (including, without his knowledge — we think — the then sitting president); some of our favorite writers became regular contributors. June 2006 brought the introduction of our popular "Observed" column, along with the site's current design. Today, we regularly get a million page views a month, and sometimes twice that, and site visits will soon exceed 50 million cumulatively since our launch.
Julie Lasky is joining our team as editor of Change Observer. Since 2002, Julie has been editor-in-chief of I.D., the award-winning magazine of international design. Prior to that, she was editor-in-chief of Interiors magazine, which she led to several national honors, and managing editor of Print magazine, which was named a National Magazine Award finalist five times in her tenure. A widely published writer and critic, Lasky has contributed to The New York Times, Metropolis, Dwell, Eye, Slate, National Scholar, and NPR. Julie also will be a Contributing Writer for Design Observer.
Additionally, Ernest Beck is joining the team as a Contributing Writer for Design Observer, and eventually as a staff writer for Change Observer. He is also working as Editorial Director of an Aspen Design Conference planned for late 2009, staged in collaboration with AIGA and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Ernest is an award-winning journalist with extensive writing and editing experience at prestigious newspapers, magazines, and web sites. A veteran staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal for almost a decade, he covered politics and economics in Eastern Europe while based in Budapest, and took on a corporate beat in London covering the consumer-goods, advertising and marketing industries. Now a freelance writer based in New York, Beck covers topics including business, globalization, personal finance, sustainability, and real estate, as well as design and innovation for media outlets including Businessweek.com, MSNmoney.com, and The New York Times. He writes about the business of art and design for publications including Art & Auction, Architect, I.D., Worth, and Print.
We welcome the contributions of these talented editors and writers. Join us in welcoming them to Design Observer.