Editing a national design magazine gives one ABP graduate a unique insight into Australia’s architectural arena and fulfils her passion for writing and design.
“My current role as the editor of Houses magazine gives me the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of architects and designers and their work,’ says Katelin Butler. “As opposed to being privy to one particular style of architecture within a practice, I have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening around Australia in all sorts of practices.”
Even before starting her Master of Architecture at the University of Melbourne in 2007, Katelin was immersed in the design publishing scene. After completing a Bachelor of Environmental Design at the University of Tasmania, she made the move to Melbourne and scored a gig with Architecture Media, firstly as editorial assistant across a number of publications and then as Assistant Editor of Architecture Australia. It was a valuable opportunity for the young Tasmanian who always had an interest in media and writing, as well as architecture and design.
“History and theory subjects were my strengths during my architecture studies and I really enjoyed the presentation process of design studio projects,” says Katelin. “So, architectural publishing was very appealing to me. The industry in Australia is relatively small, so I feel very lucky to have actually taken this path.”
After working on Architecture Australia for four years, Katelin became Associate Editor of Houses in 2010, before taking up the editorial reigns of the magazine in 2011.
Focusing on the presentation and critique of residential projects, Houses is Australia’s leading residential architecture magazine and the perfect platform for showcasing the work of emerging practitioners.
Similar to its iconic stable-mate Architecture Australia, the publication highlights the work of young architects, as well as established designers, and examines their ideas, methodology and built outcomes. Each project presented in Housesfeatures lavish images and informed comment, as well as detailed floor plans and product lists.
Interestingly, the residential space is often the place where architects can express their specific design visions, and try out innovative concepts and materials, away from the ‘constraints’ of larger civic or corporate projects. It’s also the place where the architect/client relationship can be tested, refined, perfected.
“Even if an architect has worked on large scale buildings at other firms, a residential project is often their first opportunity to express individual ideas and to explore areas of interest,” notes Katelin.
“There is always a good story attached to this type of project – the architect’s own teeny tiny apartment, a relative’s renovation or some other personal connection.”
During her time with Architecture Media, Katelin has had various exhibition, book and project reviews published in both Architecture Australia and Houses. And being connected to the industry – charting its challenges, trends and design stars – is critical to ensuring each edition of the magazine is fresh and relevant.
“As an editor, you need to be connected to what’s happening and where. It’s very important to have your finger on the pulse,” says Katelin.
For other architecture graduates with an interest in design publishing, Katelin admits there is no clear pathway. Networking and getting ‘into print’, however, are vital.
“There is no easy or direct route into architectural publishing from architecture – but it’s important to make connections with a wide variety of people and try to get some written work published. The architectural publishing industry is relatively small within Australia. Within the Architecture Media office, there are editors and subeditors that come from both publishing and architectural backgrounds. This works really well, as I’m always learning from those with editing backgrounds, and in turn I can impart my knowledge of architecture to them.”
Katelin uses her architectural training every day at work to assess and understand the projects the magazine profiles. But is this talented young editor ever tempted to design buildings?
“I really enjoy my role within design publishing, so at this point, I can’t see that changing. However, as I have completed my Master of Architecture, I don’t want to close the door to practising architecture all together. Perhaps there is some way to be an editor and designer concurrently? I’m also interested in writing for international architectural publications, such as Mark magazine.”