Exploring what makes Dezeen and ArchDaily the world’s leading online architecture publications, Sinéad Keating takes a look at their similarities and what sets them apart
If a building catches your eye or appears on your social media feed, two of the first search results about it are usually ArchDaily and Dezeen. These two websites have become the biggest online architectural publications globally, a resource for architects and other people working in the industry, as well as non-architects. Unlike print architectural publications like the Architectural Digest or Detail magazine, the articles published online have uncomplicated language and offer a simple entry into reading about architecture. The abundance of images and drawings that can be published with each article further enhances the experience. These two websites coexist with small differences that allow them to share readership, differences that existed from their very beginnings.
Both websites were founded at a time when blogging was growing in popularity and influence, and it was only logical that blogs dedicated to architecture would arise. Both Archdaily and Dezeen were founded as companies to deliver an architecture blog to the format and standards of a magazine. Dezeen was founded first, by Marcus Fairs in London in November 2006. He launched it as an online architecture, interiors, and design magazine. Their main focus remains architecture, but Dezeen also publishes a slightly wider scope of design related topics, from architecture and interiors, to innovations in footwear and exhibition design, for example.
ArchDaily is the English version of Plataforma Arquitectura, which was founded in Chile in March 2008. The founders David Basulto and David Assael had the intention of broadcasting architecture worldwide, an achievable feat considering Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world. It runs side by side today with the English and Mandarin versions of ArchDaily to facilitate readers around the globe. In the words of Basulto; "As the urbanisation of the world continues to grow exponentially and the architecture industry is on the verge of a rapid digitalisation process, our profession is more important than ever". The head offices remain in Chile today. Initially allowing a perspective on South American construction, it became a resource for local building practices and materials, exploring the vernacular of different areas. This has led to the largest difference between Dezeen and ArchDaily - ArchDaily maintains a database of architectural products designed to inform architects and engineers. This includes materials and new construction technologies, from the likes of cladding systems and structural members to smaller products like bathroom taps. It is designed as a practical database of products, differing from Dezeen’s product articles that also encompass innovative ideas not yet fully realised.
The popularity of these websites can be attributed to their usefulness as sources of information to architects, designers, students, and people outside of the professions. With 7.5 million visitors monthly to ArchDaily and over 3 million to Dezeen, these websites help to spread design information and interest in good design outside of the profession. Here in Ireland, the popularity of Dermot Bannon and his wildly popular RTÉ show Room to Improve continues the conversation among people about architecture and good design. With the growth of Instagram in the last decade, architecture and interior design is more accessible for people with casual interest in it. The most popular articles from ArchDaily in 2019 covered bringing the outdoors in with good design, and storage solutions for small houses. On the other end of the scale, also topping the list of most popular articles are more technical articles like 16 Brick Cladding Constructive Details. The access to information and inspiration serves as a positive for professionals and clients in the design process.
Both websites have published articles in 2019 relating to ‘Instagram architecture’ focusing on the superficial interior and exhibition design growing in popularity that are designed for people to visit and take photos. The tone is generally one of criticism for seeing design as purely visual and optimised for its appearance in photos, as opposed to the experience, function, or appearance in reality.
Design awards are another area that has grown in recent years. ArchDaily organises the widely published Building of the Year awards annually, with the results chosen by architects. Dezeen launched the Dezeen awards in 2018 with a public vote under the three main categories of architecture, interiors, and design. The design category encompasses everything from sustainable design to graphic design to product design and more. The open vote allows members of the public to get involved.
The Venn diagram of these two publications has a large overlap filled with the best of architecture and interiors, with enough unique material on each website to warrant a regular visit to both.