With a new incarnation of Wired UK about to be seen on the newsstand, I have been thinking about Wired laast time round.
It was back in 1995 that Wired first made an appearance in a UK edition. I was working for the Guardian PDU (Product Development Unit) back then and remember word spreading that the Guardian would be doing it. PDU, the slightly loose-cannon design department for marketing, was tasked with producing it. I did a few mockup layouts to see if I could get the work, but had no chance. . I was certainly not one of the very-self- consciously-cool people who were likely to make the grade.
Chatting to people today I have found out a little of the background to the very difficult birth of UK Wired, a product which, though short lived was destined to bring a lot of people to the Guardian who are still here today.
Mark (Porter) told me that he came to the Guardian to do the launch issue. Apparently when the US owners and editor saw the type of work being done by the UK team (led by Rick G) they thought the work looked a little tired (not Wired) . . so Simon Esterson, who had just recently started to work for the Guardian, asked Mark - who was on a break from Colors magazine - to step in. He did, and found the process for doing the first couple of issues a very difficult one. The US team were quite demanding “Thousands of emails were going back and forth between Farringdon road and the US, and of course it was the early days of email”. He soon went back to the relative pleasure of Colors, but without that few months he would likely not be the Guardian Creative director with the historic Berliner redesign under his belt (not to mention some great work on Weekend and other Guardian publications).
And it is not just Mark, there are others - Tara, and another woman who’s name I forget from Wired were brought over from the US to sort out production, and bring a diligence and attention to detail and deadlines which were hitherto not present.
Tara, with Luke H were key to the shift of the whole Guardian over to new style-naming conventions and workflow methods which came in alongside Simon Esterson’s 1999 redesign (Mark Porter as his deputy). The redesign coincided with the transfer of the Guardian from Atex over to Apple Macs. I was seconded from my job as Art Director of Money Observer, to the project team which made Quark Xpress templates for the newly designed paper. It was a tough but rewarding few months.
Jennifer W was brought in during this, to be Tara’s hands, when she suffered from appalling RSI. Jennifer proved to be a very dedicated ad excellent deisnger who played a big role in the Observer redesign amongst other things, and now works in Spain, having redesigned a number of newspapers, including parts of the Mirror.
The other direct result of the 1999 redesign (called the “spring changes”) was the creation of ESD, the Editorial Systems Department, which is a permanent grouping responsible for writing and testing software for editorial, as well as training editorial staff. It is composed partly of IT and partly editorial staff. ESD had Tara and Luke at it’s core.
So that’s a bit of potted Guardian history which I will update at a later date.