Marcus Fairs, the British journalist and entrepreneur who elevated Dezeen from a slick-but-scrappy blog covering design and architecture into a multifaceted digital media juggernaut, tragically and unexpectedly died on June 30. He was 54.
According to a July 4 statement released by Dezeen announcing its founder’s sudden passing, Fairs had been hospitalized after falling ill earlier last week and received a short period of intensive care immediately preceding his death. Surviving Fairs are his wife, Rupinder Bhogal, also a director at Dezeen, and children Jordi and Millie Fairs, along with his parents and sister.
“Tragically, our leader and mentor is no longer with us. But the entire Dezeen team is committed to continuing what Marcus started and ensuring that his legacy stands the test of time,” reads the statement.
Although 15-year-old Dezeen changed hands last year when it was acquired by Danish company JP/Politiken Media Group, Fairs stayed on as CEO and editor-in-chief. Prior to famously launching Dezeen from his spare bedroom in 2006, Fairs served a three-year stint as founding editor of seminal British architecture and design quarterly ICON. Fairs’s earlier bylines as a staffer and freelancer can also be found in numerous other publications including Building and Design, Building, The Guardian, Conde Nast Traveler, and others.
Fairs’s rise within design media was a somewhat circuitous one, as he first studied 3D design at the University of Wolverhampton before later going on to receive a post-graduate certificate in periodical journalism from University of the Arts London in 1996. Fast-forward just a decade or so later, and the awards and accolades already garnered by Fairs for his journalistic efforts—for both ICON and Dezeen—had grown to populate a veritable trophy chest. These honors include, among others, Business Web Editor of the Year (2012) from the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) and an honorary membership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2017—a first-of-its-kind recognition for a digital journalist.
In addition to being highly decorated within his given profession, Fairs, as evidenced by the outpouring of remembrances that have flooded social media since the announcement of his death, was beloved not just by his colleagues at Dezeen but by his larger group of peers within design media. His impact was indelible.
Writes Aaron Seward, editor-in-chief of The Architect’s Newspaper:
“We are incredibly saddened by this shocking news. Marcus Fairs was a true visionary who introduced an impressively broad audience to the world of design. Dezeen came on the scene a few years after AN and quickly distinguished itself as a leader in the digital-only realm. The publication continues to be special in its ability to grapple with serious discourse relevant to professional designers while remaining fun and digestible enough to engage amateurs and the merely curious. While I only had the opportunity to meet him in person once, while at a symposium in Turin, I was impressed by his generosity and love for life. Our thoughts are with his family and the whole team at Dezeen.”
Below are just a few other reactions from those who knew, admired, and worked alongside Fairs:
Terribly sad, shocking news. Marcus changed online publishing as we know it and was always a mischievous, provocative presence in the design world. https://t.co/sD5yKAZ8xm
— Olly Wainwright (@ollywainwright) July 4, 2022
This is so sad and shocking. Dezeen is many things but Marcus saw me speak at a conference and said, Come use my platform to write whatever you want, and that made a huge difference https://t.co/gnywoFCAan
— Alexandra Lange (@LangeAlexandra) July 4, 2022
Marcus Fairs was a world, a star, an energy source for so many of us. He made careers and changed lives. An incredibly talented, passionate journalist, editor and friend. He had my back, supported and was part of almost everything I did. What will we do now? I’m heartbroken.
— Beatrice Galilee (@_Beatrice) July 4, 2022
We are shocked and saddened to learn that Dezeen’s founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs has passed away. Fairs launched Dezeen from his spare room 15 years ago and his ambition changed the course of online design media. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues
— The Architectural Review (@ArchReview) July 4, 2022
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend Marcus, a creative visionary who I had the great pleasure of knowing personally.
— StudioOlafurEliasson (@olafureliasson) July 4, 2022
We are deeply saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of @dezeen Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief Marcus Fairs. Our thoughts are with Marcus’ family and the dezeen team. pic.twitter.com/yEPrBtM8gB
— London Festival of Architecture (@LFArchitecture) July 4, 2022
We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Marcus Fairs – what he accomplished with Dezeen was a phenomenal contribution to architecture and design publishing and we are all the poorer for losing him. Our thoughts are with his colleagues, friends and family. https://t.co/AhDRM6c5Fh
— Architects’ Journal (@ArchitectsJrnal) July 4, 2022
“Marcus was an exceptional journalist with a passion for architecture and design, which he covered with elegance and flair.” RIBA President, Simon Allford, pays tribute to Dezeen Founder Marcus Fairs: https://t.co/sdrpuca9RU pic.twitter.com/XJZ2U9XCaD
— RIBA (@RIBA) July 5, 2022