Wired Magazine is an example par excellence of what a difference solid art direction can make. Launched in March 1993 it reports on how technology affects culture, the economy, and politics. It had a strong start but seemed to coast through most of the noughties. Then arrived a man that changed the way we look at magazines forever. Scott Dadich was appointed as their creative director in 2008 and the magazine suddenly found its perfect place in the world.
Almost overnight Dadich made Wired the leading light in terms of how to mix editorial with design (Others are still catching up today). He also opened up design to readers explaining how they put together a particular edition's front cover so people felt part of the process. More often than not he would completely redo the entire look and feel of the magazine just to keep things fresh. For the JJ Abrams issue every single typeface was substituted, but it still somehow felt like Wired. I guess the brand is now very much about surprise.
It would be grossly unfair to say that Wired is just about stunning imagery. Their content is well written otherwise they wouldn't have survived the burst of the dotcom bubble that took out so many of its rivals. In fact Wired coined terms like "crowd sourcing".
However, at the heart of Wired is a conundrum they grapple with everyday. There is a strange juxtaposition in the ancient art of a print magazine talking about the most cutting edge technology. But this has the power to make Wired seem more powerful, and reminds you that what you have in your hands is very real. I know Wired are developing an iPad version right now. Let's see if receives the same love.