The first issue of theTwentySIX, a new online quarterly magazine, is due out next week. The magazine’s founder and Executive Editor Brandon A. Smith, a former interior designer, describes the content as “Vogue meets Dwell.”
Cover of the debut issue of theTwentySIX
The venture is entirely self-funded with no investors, according to Smith. Following the traditional publishing model, revenue will come primarily from advertising partners, a number of whom have already signed on including Foundation Shop, Hill & Stump, Mr. Steam, Thrive Home Furnishings, ThermaSol and Andrea Gutierrez Jewelry. Smith has arranged for theTwentySIX to be a media sponsor at the upcoming Architectural Digest Home Show and Palm Springs Modernism Show, which he hopes will help build his fledgling readership base.
Stories will feature interviews with and commentary from top talents across design disciplines such as architecture, interior design, automobiles, jets and yachts.
Brandon A. Smith
This reporter chatted with Smith to learn more about his background and get the scoop on theTwentySIX.
How did you transition from interior designer to publisher?
My background is entirely in interior design. I graduated from design school, the happy go lucky designer ready to take over the world. This, however, was right as the economy came to a screeching halt. Positions dried up quickly and I ended up going to work for a cubicle dealership (Haworth). Fast forward about three years and I found myself leaving the dealership to start my own commercial interiors firm based on the urgings of several of my furniture clients. The firm took off quickly and we found ourselves working on projects across the United States and the Middle East including work with the US Navy, Wells Fargo, and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Corporation.
About two years ago I had a bit of a lull in our projects and started dabbling in the worlds of Twitter and blogging. I found it addicting. It gave me a reason to travel more and to study other industries that I might not have explored as just a designer. Eventually, I found that the opportunities to write, to provide content for brands, and to be involved in non-design related events began to take over the day to day. I was working more on media than I was on our projects. The end result? I finished up my last remaining projects and threw myself into the world of media headfirst with theTwentySIX.
How did you choose the name theTwentySIX for the publication?
Initially the magazine was going to be formatted on the premise that we'd be including 26 features and editorials arranged semi-alphabetically. So, I simply took it one step further, naming the magazine theTwentySIX, reducing the luxury industry down to the simplest of elements—the alphabet.
What makes theTwentySix different?
We're not simply focusing on architectural interiors. We’re looking to bridge the gap between interiors of all kinds—architectural, aeronautical, nautical, and automotive. Designers from these walks of life are all working to accomplish what is essentially the same goal yet there is rarely if ever crossover between them.
Feature in the debut issue of theTwentySIX
Why digital instead of print?
We actually chose digital over print for the sole reason that I want to provide great quality, original content to a large number of people. It takes money to do that—good writers, photographers, etc. I want our initial investments to be in content and not overhead so that we can solidify our place in the luxury market without the insane investments that come from print. Not to mention, I'm writing the checks personally so it was one or the other. We will, however, take a look at the end of 2014 and see if the model supports a print version in 2015 to complement our digital copy, but that will remain to be seen.
Tell us about your team—who will contribute and what are their backgrounds?
There's me, firstly, and to be perfectly honest, I'm the only full-time member of the team. I do have a number of contributors for some of our features and they all come from different walks of life. LInh Pham is an IT strategist with a love of cars that is outdone by no one. Jessica Gordon Ryan is a lifestyle writer and luxury aficionado. Aubry Brown is a burlesque dancer and artist. I love having these different view points with each of our contributors and hope that that will reflect in their pieces.
Can you name any designers/projects that you'll be featuring in the future?
Without spilling all of our secrets, some of the designers and studios involved (in upcoming issues) are Giles Miller in London, Denise McGaha in Dallas, San Diego's Basile Studios and commentary from Kathryn Ireland. We're also covering Southern California artists The Dusty Oak, Jaxon Home and Clark & Madison.
For designers who are interested in submitting projects, what are you looking for?
Projects with a luxury edge. We want jets, yachts, motorhomes, and airstreams and have features planned around these more mobile units as well. We're looking for product design, surfaces, themes, and ideas that fit within each of our issue thematic. (Projects can be submitted directly to Smith on the website).
Smith's photo credit: David Hebble