Welcome to the evolution of Contract, its present, and its future. As I write this—and consider the beginning of my tenure as editor in chief—I think of my niece Kayla.
At 22, Kayla graduated this past spring with a bachelor of arts in interior design. Entering the workforce, she is part of a new generation that will change what designers do, how they do it, and why they do it. Born the year the Berlin Wall fell, with 9/11 as a childhood memory, she has known and used computers her entire life. She’ll more than likely be reading Contract on a computer screen while multitasking, between emails and texts. She knows sustainable design as a given in her design work; it’s the norm for her generation rather than a unique niche. But above all, she’s most concerned about launching a career when the unemployment rate that has been no lower than 8.8 percent during her 20s.
And now she’s your colleague.
She’s your colleague at the next workstation with a skill set and knowledge base that is fairly sophisticated for a new graduate. And yet she and other new graduates in interior design and architecture need mentoring and professional development, not just for themselves, but for the sake of the future of the design professions.
With that in mind, and looking for editorial inspiration, I pulled out my copy of the July 1994 issue of Progressive Architecture (P/A) magazine (I kept mine for 17 years) with the cover headline “The Intern Trap: How the Profession Exploits Its Young.” Thomas Fisher, then editorial director of P/A and now dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, wrote the prescient cover story pointing out how architecture firms were regularly exploiting the least-experienced people in their offices. The profession was eating its young.
At that time, the Fisher article helped to change the conversation and the culture of the architecture profession. It is still remembered and talked about today, and the underlying message remains: the true measure of the architecture and design professions, and any profession really, is in how it treats its young.
The future of Contract is about Kayla and her generation, and all generations of loyal Contract readers who are concerned about the future. We’ll aspire to the level of incisive journalism that Fisher had achieved in P/A, but Contract will also always be about great design and your excellent projects.
As editor in chief, I’ll bring a new energy to Contract as well as a deep understanding of—and sensitivity to—what you know, what you do, and how you do it. With a background in architecture and design, experience in practice, years as an editor at Architectural Record under Robert Ivy, and eight years as an editor of architecture and design books at the publisher John Wiley & Sons, I am coming to Contract with a clear-eyed, lucid view of your work, your process, your challenges, and your business relationships with clients.
Contract will not be about celebridesigners (as an editor in chief, I have a license to create new words), but it will be lean, urbane, aware, inquisitive, current, and relevant to your world.
As part of the evolution of Contract, I am pleased to welcome a new managing editor, Sheila Kim. Sheila has many years of experience with another interior design publication. Together with existing staff and writers, we’re excited to build upon the 51-year history of Contract and establish new relationships with readers. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Contract, both in print and online, remains your home for information and inspiration, and we want to hear from you: what do you want to see in your Contract magazine?
John Czarnecki, Editor in Chief