There is a trend towards white space, watercolors, matte paper, and whimsical pretties in the print world. Graphic design is a major part of FIT’s outlook, so I notice when new looks come across my desk. These five titles embody this new minimalism (which comes with a side order of comfy kitchen.)
This barely-there showpiece takes this aescetic aesthetic to the worlds of travel and outdoor photography. The product is a gorgeous magazine with text so stripped down that it’s difficult for someone with failing eyesight to read. Which is made up for by the incredible photography and a very specific artistic vision that is not unlike yogic meditation for the eyes.
Like its brethren, Cereal lays claim to broader lifestyle commentary with articles about artists, food, architecture, products, and fashion in these sparse pages. A recent issue even includes a literary supplement. While the blog focuses mainly on the gorgeous images that fill the print version, the site also offers travel guides for favorite cities, for a small fee.
The founders of this title, Rosa Park and Rich Stapleton, both grew up traveling frequently. They attribute their love of comfortable things and new places to the itinerant nature of their youths, saying that this reflective perspective helped create their pared-down aesthetic. Rich in particular, always travels with a camera, aiming to catch the essence of a place on film, yet with a Cereal perspective.
Cherry Bombe: 2x/year, Brooklyn, N.Y., begun in 2013.
Sue me, I know this one is stupidly trendy, but it’s my favorite so far. It is the quintessential new-style mag: lots of white border, matte paper, simple, candid-looking-but-heavily-stylized photography, funky illustrations, artful poses, child-like art, and recipes. The theme is women chefs and food writers, through the looking-glasses of both feminism and the slow-food, locally-grown, artisanal fresh foods movement. Imagine if Alice Waters and Nora Ephron had a glamorous daughter who put together a magazine. Or maybe what Ruth Reichl would have designed if she’d grown up in the ’90s instead of the ’60s.
It’s sort of a homey Gourmet, or an upscale Bust+Women’s Day. It communicates food culture through watercolors, photography, recipes, interviews, and foodways. It’s just beautiful. And it has both an online and a radio presence (?of all things).
The editors, Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, used a Kickstarter to begin the project in 2013. They percieved a gap in independent magazine coverage (or any, really) of the indy food culture that was happening on the streets, and in the fields and greenmarkets. Their choice to tell their story largely through female producers appears to be an attempt to address the male-domination of the Super Chef phenomenon.
Despite its Aussie origins, frankie continues to make a splash this side of the globe. It hits the current sweet spot between fashion, cuteness/DIY, and youth culture-of-this-precise-moment in such a complete way that it’s carried in the U.K. by news vendor W.H. Smith, and in the U.S. by a stream of hipster shops. These are helped along, of course, by the fact that the editors have made great use of online resources as Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to get their aesthetic out there worldwide.
frankie‘s tone is more celebretory of geekiness than the average club-kid magazine (e.g. Jalouse or i-D). It has more DIY projects than other alternative titles, such as Apartamento, Worn, or Kinfolk. Its voice is most similar to Bust, but it’s more fashion and pop-culture oriented. Warm and quirky, this is the Zooey Deschanel of magazines.
When people ask me what to add to our PERS subscription mix, I often answer “more Australian magazines!” Australia has a large fashion industry and is closer to major garment producers China and India than we are. Consequently, they have their own substantial culture of fashion that’s really tough for us to get at.
Few of our suppliers carry these titles (e.g. Russh, which we used to get from Magazine Cafe, will no longer be available in the U.S.) and they are difficult to get subscriptions to. frankie is the rare exception. I love that there’s a Shop Directory in each issue, even while deploring the advertorial blurring this section suggests for the mag’s content. Here in the U.S. we don’t have many other ways of getting information on Australian brands.
Kinfolk: 4x/year, Portland, OR, begun in 2011.
This is another of the Extreme Curating! titles, like Cereal and Oh, Comely. Describing itself as “discovering new things to cook, make, and do” Kinfolk covers many aspects of popular culture like fashion and interiors, but also includes recipes, and conceptual articles on topics of all sorts. All of this is presented with the white-edge, spare typeface, watercolor-embellished concept at its sparest extreme. Each issue is built around a theme.
This stylized, minimalist hipster magazine is produced by the Japanese company Ouur, which has an even more minimalistic website (think normcore streamlined). Ouur sells plain, unisex clothes in the colors black, white, gray, khaki and navy blue. Advertising is also minimal, and from companies with basic products, such as Levis and Toast. This aesthetic prevails throughout Kinfolk as well.
Ouur conceived of Kinfolk to further their vision of a worldwide community living a slow, simpler lifestyle. The title is aimed at creative professionals in urban areas, and editions are produced for Japan, China, Korea, and Russia as well as the U.S. This global focus is expressed with use of diverse models and interviewees throughout. Articles have a nostalgic filter, but a (urban?) inclusiveness. Recipes seem to be the new down-to-earth go to to keep these severely curated magazines approachable.
The Kinfolk project is driven by a production company in Copenhagen that has a gallery, which it shares with a group of like-minded product (mostly interior) designers.
Oh Comely: 6x/year, London, U.K., begun in 2012.
The last title, Oh Comely, comes from gentler impulses, advertising itself as a compilation that “makes people smile, full of quiet moments and stories.” This magazine, published in London, is designed to be pretty and soothing, rather than challenging and thought provoking. “Read it with a cup of tea or a toddy,” declares the publicity text.
And of course it comes with/from a blog…
The subtitle encourages us never to lose our curiosity, and this independent title pursues music, fashion, cooking, “culture”, and other aspects of pop culture in a very “cute” way. Oh Comely has a homey flavor. It’s ideal seems to be a curio shop from some idyllic movie. It uses muted pastel colors, pages with 1/3 white space, light printing, and foggy images all artificially empty of everything but models. It contains a lot of illustrations, some interviews, some how-tos. Like frankie, described above, it’s Martha Stewart’s Living for a younger, priviliged, diy audience.
The fascinating thing here is that each of these titles comes from a different city (even different part of the world) and has a completely different editorial staff. This re-proves the idea that style changes really do have separate but culturally responsive breeding grounds. Each generation, reacting against the previous, creates its own image. That old Zeitgeist thing again.
Come up and take a look!