Ellsworth Toohey would not be pleased by the pussyfooting of so-called design publications these days.

We’ve been in the design journalism scene for about eight years now. And it seems like the industry in Asia is regressing. In the late-1990s there was a boom in architecture and design magazines in the region. Architects who could write were spoilt for choice – which prestigious, non-trade title to write for? Of course, with the profession’s code of ethics – that one cannot critique while one continues to practice as an architect – many ended up not writing.

For those who did set aside their architectural practices to spread the love of design through print – the Tina Bonoans and Kelley Chengs – the late 1990s and early 2000s were Asia’s golden years for design journalism. Construction was booming. Architects couldn’t care less if their projects were critiqued; they had bigger projects to tend to. Advertisers were begging to put their money in titles like Bluprint in the Philippines, Space and Ish in Singapore.  And readers wanted to be educated (or at least sound like they knew the difference between purlins and c-beams) about good design, so they could choose the right architect (or brag at the next society party that the architect they chose was a constant feature in so-and-so magazine).

Now, as the second half of 2010 whizzes by, we wonder, where are the design magazines in Asia – the ones that truly educate, the ones that hold architects and designers accountable for their works, the ones that reveal that that ultra-modern looking residence may look good in pictures, but it’s hot as a greenhouse in real life because it lacks cross-ventilation and is orientated awfully wrong?

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