Surface (magazine)

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Editor-in-ChiefSpencer Bailey
CEOMarc Lotenberg
Categoriesarchitecture, design, fashion
Frequency10 times/year
Year founded1993
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City

Surface magazine is an American publication covering design, architecture, fashion, culture and travel; it publishes 10 times a year.[1][2][3][4] The publication has an online presence through the Surface 7 biweekly newsletter, as well as through social media.[5]


Surface was founded in 1993 by Richard Klein and Riley Johndonnell. The magazine was based in San Francisco until 2005, when the main offices were relocated to New York City.[6]

In 1994, Surface was described by Vanity Fair as one of 10 “upstart magazines to watch”.[7] In 1997, Surface introduced its inaugural Avant Guardian issue, which focused on the Avant Guardian Awards, a fashion photography competition. Winners have advanced to work for fashion houses such as Giorgio Armani, Hermès, Banana Republic, Nike, IBM and Levi's—as well as fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle, and general interest magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, and The New York Times Magazine.[7][8][9]

Leaders in fashion and design industries selected 10 finalists annually to have their work featured in a fashion spread and at a launch event.[8][9] For several years, the competition was expanded to include designers. Between 2011 and 2013, the Avant Guardian was on hiatus, but was revived again in 2014 and 2015, for photographers only.[10] The 15th and final Avant Guardian issue was published in October 2015.[6]

In 2009, the publication was acquired by Quadra Media.[11] In 2011, Surface was sold to Sandow Media.[12][13]

In 2012, Surface magazine was acquired by Eric Crown, co-founder and current chairman emeritus of the Arizona-based company Insight Enterprises. Surface Media LLC was formed in 2014.

Under CEO Marc Lotenberg and editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey, Surface Media has launched new ventures, including Design Dialogues and Surface Studios. Surface remains a voice in the design industry.[14]

With the June/July 2013 issue—Bailey’s first as editor—Surface unveiled a major design overhaul created in partnership with the consultancy Noë & Associates.[15] Contributing editors who joined during Bailey’s first year included Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Bettina Korek, an arts advocate, writer, and the founder of ForYourArt; and architect and designer David Rockwell.

Contributors have offered provocative comments. The November 2013 issue featured artist Julian Schnabel, who said, “I find less and less that I care if people understand me . . . I didn’t want to do this interview, but I did it because if people are interested in your work, then you should support them.”[16] In the June/July 2014 issue, real estate developer Aby Rosen was quoted as describing noted author Tom Wolfe as a “buffoon.”[17] Wolfe has published highly successful novels and journalism related to New York real estate and society. In the June/July 2016 issue, former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair criticized the media for its failure to have real-time fact checking and to point out lies stated by presidential candidate Donald Trump.[18][19]

New additions[edit]

In 2013 Surface launched the "Design Dialogue" talk series, in which editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey discusses design topics with featured international designers and brands.[20]

In 2015, editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey said that new columns would be added to the magazine, focusing equally on the craftsmanship of fashion and design. These new columns include Detail, which looks at garment and textile detail; Taste, in which a thought leader shares a current personal interest; How It's Made, intended to replace the yearly issue of the same name; Executive, in which an executive discusses the convergence of business and creativity; and Dialogue, a conversation between two creatives.[14] In February 2016, Surface released its first Builders Issue, which focuses on real estate development and architecture.[14]


Surface hosts events throughout the year, including art events during Art Basel in Miami, Florida; design events during NYC x Design, and VIP dinners.[5]


  1. ^ About Us/
  2. ^ Purple, surface-magazine. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  3. ^ McDowell, Maghan (August 3, 2015). "Surface Magazine Increases Fashion Content". WWD. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  4. ^ Gould, Jennifer. "Surface holds celeb-filled shindig for $36M Bal Harbour digs". New York Post. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Media Kit". SURFACE. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Sutton, Kelsey (October 2, 2015). "Surface Magazine to launch travel agency, shutter Avant Guardian issue". Politico Media. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Beneath the surface / San Francisco design zine, now 10, has spread influence far and wide and enjoyed a surge of interest for its innovative approach". SFGate. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "The 12th Annual Avant Guardian Project by Surface magazine | Yatzer". Yatzer. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "About Avant Guardian". SURFACE. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  10. ^ Giermann, Holly. (April 27, 2015) Surface Magazine Launches 15th Annual Avant Guardian Photography Contest. ArchDaily. Retrieved August 10, 2016]
  11. ^ Cook, Geoff. (June 25, 2009). “Interview with Riley Johndonnel, pt. 1”. Base Now. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  12. ^ (June 27, 2011). “Sandow Acquires Events International And Introduces A New Series Of Unique Interactive Luxury Experiences”. Sandow. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  13. ^ (April 11, 2011). “Sandow acquires Surface Magazine, creates China editions”. The Editor at Large. Retrieved August 16, 2016]
  14. ^ a b c Politico Media Staff. (August 10, 2015). “The 60-second interview: Spencer Bailey, editor in chief of Surface magazine”, Politico Media. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  15. ^ (June, 2015). “Two Years Surface Magazine” Noë & Associates. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  16. ^ Page Six Team, (October 21, 2013) “Julian Schnabel to have first large-scale art show since ’87”. Page Six. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  17. ^ Mohr, Ian. (June 3, 2014) “Aby Rosen blasts Tom Wolfe as ‘a buffoon’”. Page Six. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  18. ^ "Jayson Blair On Where the Facts Lie", Surface, 2 June 2016
  19. ^ Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara. (June 2, 2016). “Notorious New York Times Fabulist Jayson Blair Resurfaces at Surface Mag”. Observer. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  20. ^ "Design Dialogues". SURFACE. Retrieved November 9, 2015.

External links[edit]