Client: Azure Publishing Inc., Toronto, Canada

Rethinking a design stalwart

Azure, an international magazine covering architecture, design and interiors, came to us for strategy, market understanding, and some hands-on help.

Chris and Patrick have been instrumental in getting Azure out of a rut and back on track to becoming a publication with real purpose and meaning. Working toward a better magazine with No Media’s input and help has been a unique and rare opportunity.

Catherine Osborne, former Editor-in-Chief, Azure

Since the late eighties, Azure has been a cornerstone of the Canadian design, interiors and architecture communities. While so much has changed about the world around the magazine over the years — like, say, the entire media, advertising and publishing industries — they’ve quietly achieved something almost no other Canadian media organisation can rightly say it has over as long a period: a stable, independent business built on a solid base of subscribers and advertisers that value what they do.

Azure came to us because they knew that such stability couldn’t be taken for granted. They asked us to take the measure of the industry for them, and to help plot a course for the magazine’s future. So we did that thing we love to do — we went out and spoke to people. Like, a lot of people. What we brought back was careful and rigorous, but constructive, and built on everything we’ve learned about running magazines over the years. Most importantly, we wanted to help them ensure that the magazine remained relevant to the next generation, already in the workforce, whose information sources for work and pleasure are radically different to those the magazine was originally built for. The recommendations went on to influence an ambitious redesign of the print magazine.

Chris and Patrick were also asked to work hands-on behind the scenes on multiple issues of the magazine, bringing in new writers, briefing for more ambitious features, and planning new ways of telling stories. And you know what? As much as we love the higher level strategic work that we do at No Media, sometimes it’s just really nice to roll up the sleeves and commission work. And it was noticed: Linda Besner’s feature “The Glass Tower”, an in-depth survey on the problems still facing women in the architecture field — conceived, commissioned, and handled by us — was awarded a silver medal at the 2018 National Magazine Awards, and the magazine itself was nominated for the first time in many years in the category for best overall special interest magazine.