An Interview with the Editor of A+A

Editor’s note: In just a few days, up there in 2011, Achitects + Artisans will be observing its first full year of publishing works of architecture, art and design. So far, it’s been quite a ride – from the hills of Carolina to the skyscrapers of Dubai, by way of Shanghai, Beijing, Paris and Rome – and sometimes, an amusing and demonstrative one at that.

One of the more interesting developments of the past year was a request for an interview from Joanne Molina, editor of the very fine web blog known as The Curated Object. The resulting Q+A session ran in September, and we’re reproducing part of it below, with a link to the full interview at the end of the post. If you haven’t yet read it, please take a moment or two to consider where this idea of “thoughtful design for a sustainable world” originated:

Design Interview. Mike Welton, Editor of Architects + Artisans

“I believe people are basically smart, probably smarter than some politicians and members of the media give them credit for, and that they want to learn how to live on this planet in a really sensitive way. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. It’s an assumption for A+A that drives its content.”

It is statements such as this that made The Curated Object look twice at Mike Welton’s web project Architects + Artisans. Crafted with a voice that is both passionate and purpose-driven, it extends a perpetual invitation for thought and sincere consideration. And in a world where public space has often been hoarded by those with more capital than care, Welton’s project is a refreshing non-guilty pleasure. For these reasons, Welton’s prose has cultivated an audience who is both interesting and interested. By leaving the perils of literary advertorial at the door he has won the respect of his peers and, more admirably, the educated reader-at-large.

CO: What motivated you to start Architects + Artisans? Can you discuss some of the voices and projects that influenced you, both as a writer and as the creator of the site? It has such a specific voice, what do you think has been lacking in recent discussions about architecture/design and the fields/industries in general?

MW: I started thinking about creating A+A last fall, as print magazines and other outlets dedicated to design began first to cut back on freelance budgets, then on editorial space and finally, in the case of Metropolitan Home and I.D., to go out of business. I believed then, and continue to believe now, that even in this highly challenging economy, some very fine design, architecture and artisanship is still being developed and produced by some very gifted professionals. As editorial space shrinks, though, it becomes more difficult for good work to find its way into the public consciousness.

So I started A+A in January of 2010 to fill that void for good design, and it’s been growing ever since.

As for voices that have influenced me, Scott Fitzgerald certainly is the touchstone. But I was influenced early on by columnists like Russell Baker from The New York Times and Charley McDowell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. McDowell stressed in one of his last columns in the T-D that he always wrote as though talking to a very intelligent old friend. You’ll note that Baker did that too, and that Nick Carraway in “Gatsby” perfected that voice. It’s detached but fully engaged.

The one architectural project that has influenced me most is the Kimbell Museum of Art, by Louis Kahn, in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s an experience rather than a building – a harmonious interaction of the forces of nature with the human spirit. It’s about light and form and art. I never visit Dallas without driving over to Fort Worth to be part of it.

To read the entire interview, go to:

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