How to Pitch: Advice from Design Editors
Dwell associate editor Miyoko Ohtake: First, we're happy to divulge our own secrets! Remember that Dwell's tagline is "At Home in the Modern World," so the focus is on small, modern homes, usually, from independent designers. At Dwell, the best way to submit a project is at the very bottom of Dwell.com, where it says submissions. There's even a form to fill out, which will go to all the editors—that's your best bet, since what might not resonate with one editor might resonate with another. Dwell is also really looking for unique details and projects that haven't been published anywhere else.
Los Angeles Times home editor Craig Nakano: We want to show a snapshot of Southern California in the here and now, as if people looked back 20 years from now and could see what it was like to live here. There always needs to be a takeaway for the homeowner, maybe an idea for a design element or a project they can do. Like Dwell, the L.A. Times has an email that goes to all of the editors [home AT latimes.com, how nice of him to reveal]. In the past the role of the newspaper editor might have been the tastemaker, but now it's more a conversation with the readers. Don't list the features like a car ad—the best stories are usually rooted in a very specific design challenge. Explain it well, and it will put you ahead of a dozen other projects.
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Paul Petrunia, Founder of Archinect: Archinect looks for projects that express a lot of innovation, interesting use of space, technology and materials. The site makes no distinction between the residential or commercial, but there is a skew toward the unknown, the young emerging architects, and even students. The best way to submit is to drop a succinct email describing the project, but it's even better if an FTP is included so editors can access images as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Image quality makes a huge difference on the web, so a submission absolutely needs great, provocative photos. And although the inherent immediacy of the web has made it hard to be FIRST!, it's still nice to get an exclusive now and then.
Frances Anderton, host of the KCRW show DnA: Design and Architecture: KCRW doesn't cover private houses and interior decor. Instead, DnA's beat centers around accessibility, and the audience's engagement with public spaces. When pitching ideas, don't be afraid to pester an editor, because they need you as much as you need them. It's all about what's happening right now, and the reflection of bigger trends that everyone feels like they're a part of. Of particular interest are the very human moments that give an indication of how the design came alive. One question architects always ask is if they need dedicated PR people. Not always, but if you're going to do it yourself, then you better be dedicated to the process.
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