'One' of many: Upstart joins rich shelter niche

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The publishing industry is about to find out if there's room for One more hip design magazine.

It will know sometime after Dec. 5, when the San Francisco-based One, the latest addition to that niche, debuts.

One's CEO, Dana Lyon, former publisher of Wired, paints the newsstand product as one piece of an ambitious multimedia whole. Plans also include an AvantGo-based service for Palm computing devices from which travelers could download local hotel and shopping information, along with lists such as restaurants given Zagat's top rating for decor across 30 cities.

A Web site, launching the same day with the AvantGo service, features a trove of whizbang design information, goods and simple eye candy, including online Flash-enabled kaleidoscopic holiday greeting cards designed by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS), available on a test version of the site.

In this sense, One's scope is significantly more ambitious than other recently launched design-obsessed titles targeting well-heeled hipsters, from Surface to Wallpaper to Nest to Dwell. All the same, said one media buyer, One might face problems distinguishing itself from the pack.

"They're all really cool-looking books," said Dan Binder, VP-media director-print investment for Bcom3 Group's Starcom Worldwide, Chicago. Given their niche, he said, "they damn well better be."

The debut issue is 194 pages and contains 65 ad pages. Advertisers signed on for the debut, said Publisher Chris Mitchell, another Wired vet, include Prada, Dom Perignon, Volvo Cars of North America and Palm.

At this point, Mr. Mitchell said, no advertisers have inked significant ad packages because the magazine was produced so quickly the staff had only 10 weeks to sell the first issue. In deference to concerns about the look and feel of the magazine, One will only accept full-page ads. A full page color ad costs $14,000. Subscriptions are being sold on the Web, and 60,000 copies will be distributed in rooms at chic hotels such as the Starwood Hotel & Resorts Worldwide W chain. Time Warner is distributing the magazine; at launch, its rate base will be 200,000.

That struck one publisher of established shelter and design magazines as a bit ambitious. "We'll see when they launch it," said John Miller, group publisher for magazines such as Elle Decor and Home at Hachette Filipacchi Magazines. The former has a rate base of 400,000 while the latter's is 1 million. "It's niche marketers coming into the market and making a business out of these little niches," he said, dismissing, unsurprisingly, any notions that the new magazines pose a competitive threat to his titles.

One had its genesis, Ms. Lyon said, in an untitled prototype for a modern design magazine that had been floated internally at Wired in the mid-90s. And Stacy Morrison, the former Bride's editor who's now One's editor in chief, produced a design magazine prototype for her senior thesis in college called Lines. "But don't print that-it's not about Lines, it's all about One," she joked.

An article in the first issue follows Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant's work with Adidas and car designers from Audi to produce a new shoe (which truly resembles the car pictured in the layout); another article concerns the aesthetic of the white square in design, from architecture to the Beatles' "white album."

Across all of its media platforms, One targets a wired, affluent 25- to 44-year-old, with what Mr. Mitchell called an "average minimum" household income of $75,000. One Media is backed by West Coast venture capital firms SierraVentures and WaldenVC.

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