Some people find it strange that as an interior designer I don't read interiors magazines. I also didn't read wedding and bride magazines when I was planning my wedding. Why? These are my reasons:
Inspiration and influence.
If I read interior design magazines as a source of inspiration, I guarantee that my 'designs' would look pretty much like every other. It is very difficult to create something unique and fresh without being influenced by someone else's creativity. Also, I would discourage clients from reading interiors magazines for a similar reason. Clients too are influenced by what they see in interiors magazines and often treat them as catalogues or brochures of what their homes 'should' look like. It is the job of a designer to create a bespoke design to suit the client, the space, the budget and the brief and this cannot be found in an interiors magazine. Below are four very similar examples of interiors that will be found in magazines. Not very inspiring for a designer is it? I'll admit I chose a particularly common trend to illustrate my point.
Abstract sources of inspiration are more beneficial to any creative process. These abstractions are without context and therefore cannot influence. For example, if a designer were to look at a fashion advertisement or a nature blog the images seen will spark original ideas that he or she, and only he or she, would perhaps then apply to a design in the form of a concept. Ultimately, concepts will evolve into a unique design or an original element of a design. Imagine the many possible ideas to come from these images - the colours, shapes, textures etc. Amazing.
Plagiarism isn't limited to writers and academics. It applies to any creativity that has been 'borrowed' and passed off as one's own work. There is a fine line between influence and plagiarism and unfortunately it is evident in interior 'designs' everywhere.
Interior designer V Interior decorator.
The ability to create unique and original concepts to fit a brief is fundamental to the existence of any designer. An interior designer who lacks creativity and is 'inspired' by interior mags is surely just an interior decorator, plagiarising someone else's work, no?
Advantages of interiors magazines.
Before Conde Nast et al. send a lynch mob over, I do have a couple of positives: Interiors magazines can often help to illustrate or demonstrate some of the more basic elements of an interior design. For example, showing a client images of concrete floor finishes from a magazine is a lot easier than sketching subtle nuances for the designer and a lot easier to envision for the client. Another benefit is a directory, often found in the back of magazines. This lists all suppliers and products used within the magazine and can be a very useful reference when at the FF&E (Furnishings, Finishes and Equipment) stage of a design.
It is important for an interior designer to be aware of new products, FF&E, technology, advances in surface materials etc. Basically, to know what's what in the industry is crucial. Interiors, architectural and design blogs combined with social media (particularly Twitter) are, in my opinion, the best way to keep up to date. I am quite technologically minded and this suits me just fine. The internet affords us real time updates and a seemingly infinite source of exponential information that print material simply can't - not forgetting it's much kinder to trees and our environment than print material.
(I admit a little hypocrisy.)
While it's true that I don't read interiors mags, I am rather active on Pinterest. I have a board entitled 'space'. On this board I do pin interiors and FF&E that I either admire and give design merit to or that I (personally) just really, really like. In my defence, I only use this board as reference not inspiration, I use my 'concept' board for that.