The resurrection of Domino magazine

April 23, 2012

If you listen, you can hear the shrieks of excitement from design-obsessed shelter magazine readers everywhere as they spot the cover of their beloved Domino back on the newsstands.

But their happiness will likely be short-lived. Domino Quick Fixes, a special edition released last week and available though July 16, is mostly recycled material from the publication’s original four-year run. Another bummer: It costs $11.

“It may bear the moniker but that’s where the similarities end,” reads a review of the publication on the blog Design Pretty. “The new magazine may look like the old one but it is just not the same. . . . Sadly, aside from the font, there is no real comparison.”

Three years after shutting down Domino as a result of the economic downturn, Conde Nast has resurrected the title with at least two special “keepsake” editions. A second issue will be released in early September. There are no plans for issues in 2013.

“We wanted to reconnect with readers who have really been missing the brand,” says Catherine Kelley, the executive director of content development for Conde Nast who oversaw the editorial team for Quick Fixes.


The Spring/Summer 2012 special edition issue of Domino magazine (Domino/DOMINO)

“We have a passionate following, and those readers never ceased to express wanting to see the content, so we repackaged it and brought it back to them, collected with some new material.”

Despite rumors (or wishful thinking?) that have been circulating in the blogosphere, the Quick Fixes release was not intended to gauge interest in a relaunch of Domino.

“We know what the interest is; that was never in question,” says Kelley. “It’s simply a way to bring back some of the material and reconnect with readers. This is not a testing of the waters. There is no plan for a relaunch at this point.”

Divided into three parts — the Makeover Manual, the Inspirations and the Sourcebook — Quick Fixes is a 128-page glossy that combines some of the most popular images and tips from the Domino archives with new and updated content.

But the issue, which was put together without input from any of the former top Domino editors, lacks the personality, innovation and insider design info the magazine was known for. Instead, Quick Fixes reads like a Decorating 101 primer, one we’ve already read.

Domino magazine launched in April 2005. It quickly developed a cultlike following among young readers who felt the publication’s fresh and quirky coverage made interior design accessible and relatable in a way other shelter publications did not.

When the magazine suddenly shuttered in 2009, fans were heartbroken. An outpouring of grief choked the comment sections of design blogs posting about the news. Blogs were created just to mourn the loss. Collections of past issues were selling for upwards of $350 on eBay.

Erica Reitman, a New York-based marketing director and blogger at Design Blahg (which contains profanity), says she was “devastated” when she heard Domino was shutting down and she has been wishing for its return ever since.

“I was totally and completely thrilled, over-the-moon excited,” she says about hearing the news about Quick Fixes. “It was like dreams-coming-true time for me.”

She wasn’t alone.

The magazine’s Facebook page, which was never shut down, posted the announcement of Quick Fixes; by Monday morning, the announcement had garnered more than 32,000 “likes.” Said one Facebook commenter: “Just when we thought we would never hear from them again . . . Domino Magazine is back with a Special Edition! The world is right again.”

Despite the hysteria, Reitman, and many others, were let down after reading the issue.

“I was very disappointed,” she says. “The content in the magazine is great, but I’ve already seen it. . . . I didn’t see the point to it. I really felt like we were all duped.”

Such reactions from extreme fans aren’t surprising, Kelley says.

“We have said from the beginning that this was not going to be a relaunch of Domino and not a new issue, but a special edition,” she says. It is designed to be “in the manner of the extremely popular ‘Domino Book of Decorating’ that was completely archival Domino content repackaged in a wonderful way.

“By offering extremely popular content, we are servicing a community that has been crying out for it . . . there’s always going to be a mixed reaction.”

Deborah Needleman, the former editor of Domino, co-author of the “Domino Book of Decorating” and now an editor at the Wall Street Journal, was not involved in the creation of Quick Fixes. She had this to say about the issue, via e-mail last week:

“I just saw it in the nail salon yesterday. I thought it looked cute.”

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