A magazine called Surface makes one instantly wonder if it's possible that the editorial can have any depth. According to its editors, it can, thus the tagline "substance/style." In reality, the magazine doesn't pretend to be anything other that it is--an expensively produced glossy that skims the surface of fashion, architecture, and design. This seems to attract the folks at Lexus, who have bought a large share of ad pages. Because of this mission, the best way to experience the magazine is to take a long hard skim through the pictures (hint, hint: the ads).

The latest issue begins with a cover shot of a gorgeous model in a structured and busty red dress perched in a modern chair. I have no idea why this image is supposed to represent what the editors call "American Evolution," which according to the editor's note best represents an ability to embrace "innovation, in its ability to radically redefine itself and its future." This idea about American reinvention is about as original as the designs and trends showcased in this issue.

The front of the book is divided into simple sections on fashion, products, beauty, architecture, arts, tech, and prodigy, which seems to be a pretentious way of introducing new designs ideas and designers. The layout is attractive and the photography is beautiful, but the topics are anything but innovative or original. It seems that every design magazine has been writing about prefab housing, mid-century modern furniture, denim styles and chic trailer homes for years. The only new-ish story is about an uber-hip disco-style pizza parlor called The Pizza Bar that makes the idea of eating pizza in its surroundings utterly nauseating.

The feature well is equally uninspired. There is an article about all those new high-design luxury condos in New York which plugs everyone from Ian Schrager to Andre Balazs, but offers little intelligent commentary--or writing--on the reasons behind this cultural trend, except to say that busy urban people need a more organized sense of space and want instant gratification when it comes to real estate.

There is also a feature on new Canadian architecture and product design--because the editors think that "the best American product desgns might just be in Canada." This might also explain the random interview with Vancouver resident and author Douglas Copeland, whose latest project includes an art installation of a futuristic Canadian city. The rest of the book is just one big, and slightly disturbing, fashion spread in which a lot of the models are tugging on large chains and having milk thrown on their faces. These images make me think that Surface not only lacks depth, but it also has no point of view and questionable taste.

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