Works That Work was an international magazine publishing original, in-depth essays and stories about the impact of creative ideas in everyday life. Read more

Works That Work was an international magazine publishing original, in-depth essays and stories about the impact of creative ideas in everyday life. Editor Peter Biľak tag-lined it ‘a magazine of unexpected creativity’, and saw it as a vehicle for challenging the widely held view that design is only about making objects stylish and more expensive. Thus, the magazine published human interest stories about design’s relevance to the wider public and how good design leads to the permanent betterment of life for all involved, showcasing examples from such far-flung locales as towns north of the Arctic Circle, villages in India and cities in Africa, as well as metropolises all over the globe.

The magazine also set out to rethink publishing models, treating its readers not as a target group to be sold to advertisers, but as partners who made the project possible and who deserved radical transparency regarding its finances and operations. Advertising was limited to an average of just 3% per issue (compared to a global average of 52%), and subscriptions and direct sales provided the bulk of its operating budget.

Readers were also the focus of the magazine’s ‘Social Distribution’, a system in which they distributed the magazine to their friends and neighbors and were paid for their efforts. The method, which accounted for about 30% of sales, was studied by other magazines and reported on in major international publications.

Works That Work received awards and enthusiastic press coverage during its run, but more importantly, it broadened the discussion about design, making it relevant to designers and non-designers alike, surprising its readers with things they didn’t know, and often didn’t know that they didn’t know.

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