Metropolitan Home

Metropolitan Home has managed to find an excellent balance between the world of traditional décor and high modern design, and the new world of masstique and do-it-yourself.

The lead cover line of the November issue invites readers to take "Real Life Lessons from Designers' Homes." Editor Donna Warner's note, about the future of magazines, would be rambling and off-topic if it weren't for her sense of humor. "[Northwestern's New Media director Rich Gordon] described to us a possible magazine of the future, published on 'electronic paper'--a thin wireless flexible display screen that you can roll under your arm. I hope that electronic-paper magazine signals don't fade in and out like my car's satellite radio. I can just imagine the reader inquiries: 'What was that paint color?'" She admits she was writing it in 95-degree heat, which clearly went to her head.

The front of the book offers a clean design and eclectic holiday gift ideas, like a Nymphenburg porcelain rhinoceros, and "poetic perforated silver-plated" teaspoons: "Dutch designer Ed Annink reasoned that today no one ever sips from teaspoons; people just use them to stir coffee or tea." Unfortunately, the font of the product descriptions is so small, it's almost too taxing to read. A section called Dr. Swatch rips off the "Antiques Roadshow" and offers smart appraisals of family treasures and thrift-store finds. There is also a very relevant story about rare-breed Thanksgiving turkeys, which the writer dubs "the heirloom tomatoes of turkey." The advice column combines a selection of beautifully designed lights--for example, the Cascade, designed by architect Vincent Van Duysen, which creates a waterfall of crystal in your living room---with quotes of practical, everyday advice from well-known lighting experts. There is also a wonderful first-person essay by design writer Akiko Busch about the comforts of living in a modernist building when she was at boarding school in the 70s.

The feature well is striking, and unlike Elle Décor, which I reviewed earlier this week, this magazine actually infuses its pages with the lives and stories of the people whose homes it celebrates. We learn that designer Sue Timney weds her childhood memories of Africa with contemporary graphics, and that architect Deborah Berke's spare and classy East Hampton home is focused on simple design to show that her life is more about people than things. More of her East Hampton neighbors should take note.

Overall, Metropolitan Home has a strong point of view on modern design, which can often be cold and off-putting. The magazine does a good job of bringing out the warmth in design, in a way that says, come on in and stay a while.

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