Magazine of the Week

Welcome back, everyone! Spring break is over and it’s time to get down to the hardest work of the semester: Crunch time, before the end of the academic year.

This week’s magazine is Surface. I chose this issue because it’s one of the few titles on our Display shelves which depicts a woman of color (WoC). It’s sad that this should be notable, but it is. I’m going to write more about that issue later this week, but for now, here’s more about Surface.


Surface was founded in 1993 by San Francisco publisher, Richard Klein. His partner, Riley Johndonnell, was the original editor and art director. It was originally a tabloid format, published 10x/year, and focused on the night life and art scenes of the west coast. Gradually the focus shifted towards global avant garde design of all kinds, it’s current topic. In 2004, Klein attributed the magazine’s success to the growing design consciousness of Americans, citing examples of product designers and architects who have become celebrities during the magazine’s tenure. By associating the title with the work of these designers, Klein hoped to establish Surface as a brand synonymous with contemporary design.




One way Klein accomplished his branding goal was to launch the Avant Guardian issue, which featured the finalists in their fashion photography competition. This contest and issue ceased in 2015. In 2005 the title moved to New York City. More recently, Surface began a travel agency and developed city guides. The publishers work with a series of hotels and real estate developers. The title also advertises launch parties designed to give projects an initial glamorous splash.




Between 2009 and 2014 the title changed financial backers several times. The current version, the title produced by Surface Media, was established in 2014, under CEO Marc Lotenberg and editor in chief Spencer Bailey. The title is now published 6x/year, and each issue has a particular theme. Like so many of their print competitors, they also make use of their online component, for more frequent updates on their larger themes. This site includes products for sale by companies with sympathetic aesthetics. The company also consults on custom video and publishing projects.



Bailey’s projects include a new focus on fashion, with Valerie Steele, head of the Museum at FIT, collaborating regularly on fashion coverage.

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