We have it on paper! (All about really good magazines)
Stanisław Jerzy Lec said that “window onto the world cannot be covered up by a newspaper”. There is a great deal of truth in this, especially with regard to the period in which the poet lived and worked.
At present, the printed media is being steadily replaced by the truth of the screen, in fact, the screens: displaying online editions of both small zines, large corporate printed media as well as of local newspapers. However, nothing can replace the charm of printed media, its smell, and the curiosity about what may be found on turning to the next page. Curiosity that can be aroused or made dormant, but that will not be put to the ultimate test of perception, as happens with digital services. Printed media is a closed system. If it refers somewhere, it is to the imagination and further exploration. The latter, however, are precisely defined.
Printed newspapers have other advantages – they can function as a screen. Although the times when a periodical (a beautiful word, by the way) published in Poland could be physically used to protect one’s privacy are long gone. To hide from the prying eyes of a fellow rail travel companion. Then there are, possibly, the foreign newspapers. “The Wall Street Journal”, “The New York Times” or the “Finacial Times” would be perfect for this. Although there are even larger formats, particularly popular in Australia and New Zealand. The largest size, the broadsheet format (there are still the berliner, the tabloid and the compact in descending order) is popular in Anglo-Saxon countries in general. This has it’s historical, and specifically fiscal, reasons. In 1712, the so-called Stamp Act was introduced in the United Kingdom, which correlated the amount of tax with the number of pages in a periodical. That is why publishers would print on the largest possible formats in order to fit the entire edition on as few pages as possible. It was the broadsheet format newspapers in particular, which could act as paper ‘screens’, that have always enjoyed particular esteem in this culture. They are perceived as a mark of intellectual refinement. Not only in the Anglo-Saxon culture.
The history of art, and especially of the cinema, is full of characters brandishing a huge newspaper, which has become an attribute of dolce vita and maybe even dolce far niente. Many times it featured among the spy’s essentials, or as an insect repellant, a notebook and as a ‘last resort’ rescue for the shy. It gives you a chance to focus on something. Today, this role is still performed by mobile phones. The newspaper was also one of the characters in Dzien Swira[Day of the Wacko],where the protagonist, Adam Miauczyński bought out the last issue of a women’s magazine, to spite a certain lady.
Coin and a magpie
The word “gazeta”[newspaper] probably derives from the word gazzetta used in Venice, a type of low-denomination coins that were used to pay for the newspapers. Other etymological enquiries point to the word gazza meaning “magpie”, as well as to the Hebrew word izgard, which was used to denote a “messenger” or a “herald”. However, one thing is certain – since newspapers started being published regularly, that is, presumably since the beginning of the 17th c, their impact on reality has only increased.
At present, the role of newspapers is equally important, although its impact is different. Today, once again, they are a somewhat elite medium, but they provide access to quality content within a certain framework. In times of an endless stream of images and information, it is difficult not to appreciate the signature approach, behind which lie intellectual, aesthetic or cognitive values. The specialist knowledge that is imparted by the press is also noteworthy, as it is transferred in a form that is of high editorial, linguistic and artistic quality.
From the back and to the end
From the thick fashion magazines, often over three or four hundred pages long, through niche, beautifully published periodicals, to business dailies. Let’s page through a dozen or so recognised titles that describe the world in a thoughtful and intriguing manner. They can be safely judged by their cover and read from the back and to the end. Thanks to the closed composition, clear marking of the beginning and the end, the fear of missing out (the famous FOMO) should not interfere with our reading.
Maps of archipelagos
In the summary, it is worth noting the interesting and increasingly frequent phenomenon of media mixing and blending by publishing brands. In this case, printed magazine publications act as a hub for curatorial, business, artistic or communication vision and strategy.
In tye summary there are several examples of such activities with very different aesthetics or positioning. What they have in common, however, is similar thinking about contemporary culture as an archipelago of niche motifs that are worth integrating with each other to build a brand with a distinct and diverse ecosystem. Magazines are not only a source of knowledge and aesthetic pleasures, but also objects of culture, which today is multidimensional and its structure remains in a constant state of flux.
Enjoy your reading!
The British periodical “System” follows different fashion configurations… It contains interesting articles and insightful comments on the state of the industry. There are also thrilling interviews (e.g. by the chief curator of art and luxury – Hans Ulrich Obrist), as well as excellent photo shoots incl.those made by Juergen Teller.
The interaction of business, cultural and social aspects of fashion, highlighted in the “System” is also interesting. One can also detect an undertone of a light and ironic approach to the fashion industry, which is sometimes taken too seriously. It is only the newspaper itself that is heavy – more than four hundred pages do their job.
The Korean magazine “B” is unique on the market. Each issue is a monograph of a selected brand. A printed case study in which we can find factual analyses of the brand strategy, philosophy or approach to design. This multi-level presentation allows for a better understanding of the key elements that have contributed to the success of the brands concerned. The selection of the topics undertaken by the magazine is not accidental and varied. It allows to trace the success story of such companies as Acne Studios or Chanel, as well as Rolex, Netflix, Vitry, MINI or YouTube. A similar concept characterises “A Magazine Curated By”. In this case, however, it is the creators of the individual brands who take on the role of editors of the issues devoted to them
The “Holiday” magazine was founded in 1946 in Philadelphia and was published until 1977. During that time, it has gained a reputation of a noteworthy travel magazine. It was the perfect reading material for the American society and the aspiring middle class, which, thanks to the dynamically developing commercial flights, began to travel around the globe with an ever increasing intensity. It was distinguished by both excellent photo shoots (of high artistic and narrative quality) as well as essays and reportages commissioned from the representatives of the then literary elite. The adequate intellectual level was ensured by such names as Joan Didion, Colette, Truman Capote, Arthur Miller, William Faulkner and John Steinbeck. The editors often sent them on trips lasting several weeks. If Don Draper was planning to travel to Italy, he would probably had used the ‘Holiday’. The magazine was like a combination of “The New Yorker”, “The Paris Review of Books” and “Vogue”.
The magazine was reborn in 2014 in Paris thanks to Franck Durand, the owner of the Atelier Franck Durand creative agency. The contemporary edition of„Holiday”is equally interesting, although it is more of a fashion journal (still beautifully published) than an intellectual and travel gem. Over time,an entire ecosystem was created around “Holiday”, in which the fashionable Holiday Boileau fashion brand plays the central role. Durand thus repeated the strategy of Tyler Brûlé and his magazine “Monocle”. Durand is also responsible for the artistic management of the magazine “L’Etiquette” – aimed at dandies of timeless taste.
The Barcelona magazine is an example of a wise, humorous approach to the subject of housing, architecture and design. It avoids the glamour found in many of the popular interior design magazines. It makes up for it with its original photo shoots, careful composition and unpretentious texts. Living in a beautiful environment and cultural and social design competences are more important here than fetishising things and reality. “Apartamento” is as much a magazine about art or craftsmanship as about experimentation and the art of living (the designed one and the spontaneous one).
Nacho Alegre, Omar Sosa and Marco Velardi, the founders of the newspaper, have also established Apartamento Studios – a creative agency collaborating with brands. The agency’s client list includes representatives of design (Vitra, Flos) or fashion (Diesel, A.P.C), as well as the publishing houses (Rizzoli New York or Arnoldo Mondadori Editore).
„Apartamento” is another example of how valuable cultural capital is today. A similar combination of industries – publishing (albeit online) and consulting agency – characterises Freunde von Freunden and their studio “MoreSleep” (in Poland they worked for the Puro Hotels chain). The portfolio also includes exhibition space.
One of the more progressive publications from the world of art and visual culture. It was founded over a decade ago in Milan and is run by Alessandro Ascari. “Kaleidoscope is like a luxury magazine or a “street” version of Maurizio Cattelan’s “Toiletpaper” and Pierpaola by Ferrari. Avant-garde, but also elegant at the same time. If it experiments, it does so in an aesthetically sophisticated manner. You can sense the Milanese touch that combines the old with the new in a both nonchalant and virtuoso manner. The newspaper itself is an element of a larger project, the form of which is comparable to that of the huba branding, which meets the needs of the economy of experience and art.
The integration of the worlds of art, fashion and business can be seen clearly in the exhibition space of Spazio Maiocchi, which showcases both artists, and projects carried out under a specific brand name. There we will find projects by Harmony Korine, Sterling Ruby or H. R. Giger, as well as Rimowy, Valentino or Google.
Highsnobiety.com is one of the largest street culture, fashion and art services alongside Hypebeast.com and Complex.com. They all started as niche projects, and today they are mainstream media. Just like the street culture, which owes its transformation to pop-culture partially to the activity of mainstream media. Today, Highsnobiety is a brand with a global reach and enormous potential: with its own online shop, thematic websites and a number of other projects, including publishing. An example of the latter is the series of projects prepared with the Gestalten publishing house. These publications reveal a greater ambition than a catalogue of Nike’s latest shoe arrivals or hip-hop records. They include analyses of new forms of luxury or the role of culture in brand communication. From time to time Highsnobiety is also available in print form, however this does not happen on a regular basis. Its last incarnation is a magazine entitled “HighTech”, which, in addition to fashion shoots, includes an interview with Marc Jacobs conducted by…yes, yes, Hans Ulrich Obrist. It is worth watching this title, because it is an important example of a new media school and the so-called phygital phenomenon.
In 1996 TylerBrûléfounded a magazine called “Wallpaper”, which differed significantly from other titles on the shelves with lifestyle magazines. After a year, he sold it to Time Inc. but remained its chief executive for a decade. His next project was the magazine “Monocle”, which dealt with art, fashion and design more from an economic, social and business perspective rather than an aesthetics perspective. The publishing house has also achieved success with special editions such as “The Entrepreneurs” or “The Forecast”. The Canadian has built a brand that offers books, clothes, accessories, as well as specialized conferences. All under the same auspices. The extensive range of its services also includes company boutiques and cafés and the Winkreative branding agency. Brûléis a champion at identyfying market needs and its most promising niches.
The latest publication from Brûlý’s stable is the “Konfekt” magazine, aimed mainly at women, which premiered in December this year. Although it refers to timeless elegance and longing for European-style culture, and its content oscillates between cuisine and art, it does so in a contemporary and refreshing manner. Stories on artisanal manufactories can be found adjacent to photo shoots of sophisticated interiors. A bourgeoisie chic of the highest order with a touch of humour and distance. According to the editorial staff, the magazine gets edited in both Zurich and London.
Finally, the name, which does not need an introduction Its hallmark are its characteristic salmon-colour pages. “FT” is a daily source of information about the global economy. Deserving and reliable. With a tradition going back to 1888. The newspaper was founded in London and is now owned by the Japanese company Nikkei. Next to the “Wall Street Journal” it is the most prestigious publication in the category of business dailies. Reading its weekend edition – “FT Weekend” – is a ritual in many homes. It is devoted not only to politics or economic issues, but also to art, travel and interior design. The monthly supplement to the Financial Times is the magazine “How to Spend It”, which, as the name suggests, is aimed at people who do not usually have to ask about the price. A good reading for luxury strategists and contemporary incarnations of Thorstein Veblen.