The World of Interiors, July/August 2020

The World of Interiors is a favourite of staff and customers alike at magCulture – one of the few ‘traditional’ magazines that has stood the test of time and come out stronger. The mag is (almost) 40 years old – yet we’ve never covered it on the journal before

The magazine is still a leader in its field, using its Condé Nast banner and hard-earned reputation to seek out the most inspiring stories. Despite the new kids on the block – the biannual, ‘everyday life’ interiors mag Apartamento or the luxurious, book-like CabanaWOI remains the industry standard, the original influencer. It’s not a question of choosing between the established and the disruptive either – interiors fans always buy both.

So I was not surprised when I saw the latest ‘cover’ of WOI pop up on my instagram feed, thinking ‘what a good idea’. Rather than the usual shot of an interior under the title, this one pictured a man walking through a cacti grove under a re-imagined title – ‘World of Exteriors’. As we’ve seen over recent months, magazines have responded creatively to the disturbance caused by the pandemic. This special feature was intent on ‘celebrating the restorative power of the great outdoors’, and the issue was the first produced remotely WFH by the creative team.

‘WOE’ is a feature predominantly about the late Hans Thiemann, who ‘found himself yearning for exotic climes to cultivate cacti’. Uprooting his family from the German cacti nursery he inherited from his father, he made for Marrakech, where the plants now cover 17-acres.

Thiemann’s move in the 1950s was prophetic – houseplant obsession is a defining feature of the post-Instagram interiors world. Succulents, ferns, orchids and palms are one of the few ways to bring the outdoors in, especially in cities where garden-space is limited. Here in London, the magCulture Shop wouldn’t be magCulture without our cactus. The plants are so popular that Thiemann’s family have stopped exporting to continental Europe, and now sell exclusively to the ‘burgeoning’ Morrocan market.

Some of the shots in this feature are breathtaking – from the cacti bigger than elephants to the detailed woven fences that protect the plants from the public. It’s the kind of story that completely transports you.

And credit is absolutely due to the rest of the feature too: here is the outdoor content we never knew we needed. An in-depth history of botanical photography by Alex Ramsay (above) is followed by a piece on a waterfront ‘galvinised guest pavilion’ built in the grounds of a Sussex oast-house. The terraced orchards of a white-washed Baroque villa in Menorca follows a story about a Neoclassical rotunda in Porto that was once a butcher’s. And now? It sells seeds.

WOI continues its reign as the classic interiors mag, in this issue sharing spaces from Porto to Paris via New York and Lisbon . Although not a blueprint for new publications, it remains a benchmark in its field, each issue as beautifully crafted as the last, reminding us that the monthly magazine can still be a relevant format.

Editor: Rupert Thomas
Creative director: Jessica Hayns

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magCulture Meets Limbo

Our next Instagram Live interview features Nick Chapin and David Lane, two of the team behind new magazine Limbo.

Published to raise funds for people in the arts and publishing worlds who have lost their source of income due to the pandemic, Limbo has the support of contributing artists, printers Park Communications and WeTransfer. Chapin describes it as, ‘a mash up of all this mad work made in odd ways under lockdown.’ Contributors include Scott King, Stephen Shore, Miranda July and Julie Verhoeven. It’s an impressive debut, a fascinating response to our times.

Publisher Nick Chapin has previously worked at Frieze magazine and Vice Media; David Lane is creative director of both The Gourmand and Frieze. The magazine is edited by Francesca Gavin, who also contributes to Twin, Good Trouble and many other indies.

Nick and David will be discussing the project with Jeremy Leslie. Expect to hear about how the project came together, their hopes for it, and the ability of a magazine to make a difference.

Instagram Live,  Tuesday 14 July, 5pm BST
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Subscribe for an email reminder on the morning of the event

Cabinet #66

After two years, Cabinet is back with a printed issue. I spoke to founder and editor-in-chief Sina Najafi about the past, present and future of the magazine. 

‘We announced in 2018 that we would do three more print editions then switch to being a digital monthly,’ Najafi explained, ‘We thought this process would be completed in 2019, but actually last year was completely absorbed with all the changes we had to make to be ready for the transition, so we published only one issue, out now. We are about to send the next issue to press; it has a theme section on Dreams. And then issue 68, which will have a theme section on The End.’

The first of these final issues is unthemed – though arguably the absence of a theme is a theme in itself. It’s the first of its kind since the magazine launched and as Najafi says in his editor’s letter (above), almost a trial run for when the mag goes digital and fully themeless. And while the idiosyncratic structure of the magazine has resulted in an issue that’s not hugely unlike previous iterations, there are a few notable differences.

For those unfamiliar with Cabinet, its coverage of art and culture has always been split across three sections each issue.

The first, ‘Columns’ features pieces in a rotation of regular titles, a few of which are: “Inventory” (creative reassessments of various types of catalogues, lists, and taxonomies), “Ingestion” (examining the intersections between eating, aesthetics, and philosophy) and “Colors” (a wide variety of writers ranging from scientists to poets and many others in between consider a specific color assigned to them).

Most significantly, “Colors” is not present in issue 66, though a satisfying catalogue of hand drawn objects from public libraries makes up the contents of “Inventory” by Laurel Rogers – think filing cabinets and “perfect inkstands” (above). I’m also delighted to see the latest line from Brian Dillon’s “Sentences” in Columns: ‘Paper storage, fragments of delirium eaten away by dust,’ (below). Dillon examines a sentence in such minute detail that often the line  becomes embossed in your own brain – in fact I still remember Hillary Mantel’s ‘…long feet like blades carving through the rain’ from issue 65.

The third section that is usually dedicated to the theme is smaller than usual, simply titled “And”, meaning that the major body of this issue is found in the second section, “Main”. As ever, this features a quirky selection of material: “Singing Disappearance” by Adam Bobbette is about ‘Javanese songbird competitions and the ventriloquizing of extinction,’ (below), while “The Non Boundary” by Justin E. H. Smith opens with the line – ‘A thought experiment: what would our metaphysics look like if nature or the creator had endowed us with exoskeletons?’. It’s classic Cabinet: gently fastidious, consistently thought-provoking, occasionally dark and surprisingly playful.

So what will happen after “The End”? Najafi: ‘The magazine will be a monthly, with two unthemed issues followed by a fully themed issue. It’ll be more or less like the magazine as it is now, but broken up over three issues. We have also launched an online platform called Kiosk, where we’ll publish essays that are more timely and that we can edit quickly.

‘The goal is to have three rhythms of publishing: a relatively quick tempo with Kiosk articles, a slower temp with Cabinet issues, where the essays, which can be much longer, are not going to suffer from being published six months after we first receive them (so, for example, historical material would end up in the magazine); and then the books.’

‘The first book in the para-philosophy series is by Aaron Schuster and is a short book that builds on a very interesting essay he did for the magazine on tickling and philosophy. Tickling has always posed a problem for philosophy, in part because you cannot tickle yourself and you can also start laughing at the very idea of being tickled, to mention two interesting parts of the phenomenon. And tickling has been discussed by tons of philosophers, inc. Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Freud, Derrida, and Lacan. So the book will look at this apparently trifling topic as a way of understanding how we have framed the idea of pleasure and how it can at times turn into something excruciating.’

Even if it won’t be in print, I’m glad to see Cabinet continuing to do what it does best. The magazine has always served as a refuge from stuffy academia, casting a magnifying glass over the overlooked or obscure. It’s exciting too that whole books will emerge from past Cabinet articles – proof that magazines are still very much the launchpad for new writers, artists, and ideas.

Buy your copy from the magCulture Shop

Here #12

I’ve only recently caught up with Here, a quarterly travel magazine published by luggage company Away that arrived announced in our post. It’s a refreshing publication that proves customer magazines needn’t be predictable PR vehicles for the brand behind them. Here we look at five elements from issue 12 that sum up my enthusiasm for the title.

1: COLOUR  Here’s 86-pages are vibrantly colourful throughout. The use of a black and white portrait of Moses Sumney on the cover is heightened by the warm magenta frame image from another story and flouro orange logo. Inside, blocks of colour, chequer board patterns and gradients establish a rich sense of happy warmth.

2: PHOTOGRAPHY   Much of the imagery sits within these patterns and gradients, but one story reverses this. A series of luggage x-ray shots sit in white space, the headline orange on white. The story – headline and all – stands out from the rest of the issue as if the whole pages are inverted, like the objects on airport security screens.

3: BLACK AND WHITE   In a similar shift of pace, I love this simple, monochrome, nod to a musical quaver icon on the opener to a series of reports from music-rich cities (London, Mexico City and Tokyo). Note, however, the two different blacks and the subtle blue gradient to left.

5: UNRULY  While individual sections maintain some consistency within each issue of Here, there appears to be no formal grid or structure to the pages. All the regular parts are present, but none follow a format. The page furniture, for instance, is recognisably styled but jumps about the page at will (above).

4: LEGIBILITY  For all the colour, patterns and unruliness, the text is unformally clear and readable – it’s always black or white out of black, using one of two typefaces. This is an obvious way to achieve a readable text but it’s impressive how this simplicity is fitted into the happy chaos of the pages, and a vital part of the success of the finished piece of print.

Editorial director: Ally Betker
Art director: Chloe Scheffe

Buy your copy from the magCulture Shop

magCulture Meets Mundial

Our next Instagram Live interview features Dan Sandison, editor-in-chief of football magazine Mundial. Join us on Tuesday 5 July to hear him in conversation with magCulture’s Jeremy Leslie.

This event has already taken place — watch a video below.

Dan and Jeremy will be discussing the ups and downs of print publishing. Since his talk earlier this year at the magCulture Shop – our last live event before the lockdown – it’s been announced that Mundial has suspended their print edition.

Recorded from Instagram Live on Tuesday 5 July 2020

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Another Gaze #4

Issue four of feminist film journal Another Gaze was due to arrive in-store in March, but delays held it up. This doesn’t affect reading it at all though – AG is timely in a drawn out way; considered, never rushed. Each essay is ruthlessly erudite – unsurprising considering the impressive (fully female) list of contributors. Here is a journal with a capital J – a publication that feels like it’s been around forever.

The issue begins with humour. An essay called ‘The Last Good Male Film Critic’ by editor Missouri Williams (above) features her co-editor (and founder of AG), Danielle Shreir. It follows their escapades around the Austrian film festival Diagonale, and their small obsession with n+1 film critic A. S. Hamrah. It’s beautifully written – laugh-out-loud funny and self-deprecating, the perfect ‘editor’s letter’.

So what else to expect from this issue? It’s unthemed as always, but each issue’s content page groups together mini themes (above). The call for entry requested pitches about: commodity (film) feminism, auto/biography, sex scenes, subtitles and translation, borrowing dangerously, imagined adaptations, objects in film and actresses. From what I’ve heard anecdotally, the journal was inundated with submissions.

Amongst others, this is just some of the content that made the cut: articles about Brazilian cinema, the late Ukranian director Kira Muratova, contemporary filmmaker Zia Anger in conversation with Ashley Connor and ideas of ‘rebellion’ and the ‘anthropocene’. Another Gaze doesn’t skimp on illustration either, with pages full of collaged photographs accompanying most essays. This is not, as you can imagine, a slim journal.

Another Gaze is undeniably erudite, but never to the point where it feels alienating. The editors describe the writing they publish as ‘thorough and research-based but not opaque or academic’. Not having heard of the films discussed in its pages is part of the point of the journal – it is a discovery handbook. And unlike its contemporaries, Little White Lies or Sight & Sound, the content is comprised of essays, not just reviews. ‘Peyote Queen: Trance, Ritual and the Female Body in the short films of Storm De Hirsch’ by Sophia Satchell-Baeza and Missouri Williams’ ‘How Do You Solve a Problem like Duszejko?: On Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor’ were two of my favourites in issue four.

It’s impossible to read Another Gaze and not come away inspired, a long ‘films to watch’ list saved in your phone notes. Reading it will always like having a long conversation with your sparkiest and most knowledgeable friend.