You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting some sort of new iteration of Domino, the beloved Condé Nast decorating magazine that first folded in 2009 amid the recession and was somewhat revived last year to much delirium as a newsstand-only glossy filled with regurgitated photos from the original. That lamely second attempt, entitled Domino Quick Fixes, never turned into much, and rumors of another revival, which surfaced earlier this year, finally come to fruition today: the brand has just launched as an e-commerce platform with a quarterly print supplement.
On the outside, Domino 3.0 looks much like its predecessor, same lowercase logo and same girly script font; the same friendly, colorful, glam, oft-twee interiors (sure to appeal to the Pinterest maniacs who didn't exist in 2009). Yet "the Domino reader is five years older and her circle has seemed to grow wider with the proliferation of brilliant design blogs that have shared the Domino archives over the years," says editor Michelle Adams, who started her career as an assistant market editor at the first Domino and went on to co-found Lonny, which she left in spring. "The web has made us all a bit more sophisticated since we get to see more inspiring content than we ever did before." And, as Penelope Green argues in a massive New York Times piece this morning (but one component of a carefully curated marketing blitz, complete with its own carefully curated #welcomehomedomino Twitter hashtag and elegantly packaged preview copies direct-mailed to design bloggers and editors), the "print magazine is perhaps beside the point. In fact, it's merely a branding tool [...]" for the e-commerce platform that makes the entire $12 issue shoppable, including lower-end options for products featured in the magazine. So yes, Domino gift cards and—gulp—promo codes are a thing now.
One of the brand's new slogans is "Love It, Want It, Buy It." Its new owners are the founders of Project Décor, a shoppable design and decor site; though Condé Nast has licensed the Domino name and is the minority stakeholder, "ultimately, this Domino isn't really a magazine," writes Green. "It's a store." One that's filled with 30,000 products from the first issue alone; though Domino is "the merchant of record," inventory and shipping will be handled by directly by manufacturers, a roster of 200 that includes Jonathan Adler, Knoll, and Arteriors.
The fact that the magazine originally billed as Lucky magazine for the home—essentially, a shopping magazine for the home—is now actually shoppable is certain to blow some minds. (Adams admits that "this has been a dream of mine, to make Domino truly shoppable.") Still, words like "drop-ship model" probably aren't sexy enough to quiet the rabid "shrieks of excitement from design-obsessed shelter magazine readers everywhere," as the Washington Post's Terri Sapienza wryly put it the last time around, and ultimately a certain subset of the Domino superfan will be more interested in that print quarterly than its newfound digital lifeblood.
Some quick stats: The inaugural issue is 128 pages ("I was disappointed that $12 didn't buy me a more substantial magazine," Design Sponge's Grace Bonney told the Times), and it's divided into sections ("Decorating," "Entertaining," "Nesting," and so on) and features. Whereas Lonny routinely published 30-page features, Domino caps them ever so blissfully at 10 (though online, Adams says, a fuller roster of photos for each story is available). Inside: pieces on Coco Chanel's Paris flat; Eva Chen's Manhattan apartment (Chen is the new editor in chief of Lucky, also a Condé title); and a modern Nate Berkus project for his hairstylist. Adams dedicated much of the Dec. 2012 Lonny to Haven's Kitchen, a pretty Manhattan cooking school and event space; curiously, she comes out of the gate with a Domino feature on the home of the founder, Alison Cayne, which reps say was won from Vogue.
The Times implies that merchandising accounts for much of the rhyme and reason behind these editorial decisions—"Not 'Is it a cool product?' But 'Can I buy 1,000 units of this?'"—but Adams maintains that what she "looks for as an editor has not changed—it all starts with finding inspiring spaces. What's exciting now is that our readers can shop these spaces—both from well-known brands that we all love, and from smaller artisans whose products we're able to bring to market." She adds: "The most daunting part of bringing Domino back is I want to make the original editors proud, and I want the readers to feel that we picked up where we left off."
Here, have a look at a few spreads from the magazine and some shots of the revamped Domino.com:
· All Domino coverage [Curbed National]
· Domino 3.0 [NYT]