Albert Folch set up his Barcelona design studio in 2004, and has designed many magazines since: Metal, Odiseo and Fucking Young are just a few of their projects. We meet Albert as he completes the first print edition of Eldorado, a bookish new print extension of the online magazine about travel, nature and the outdoors.
How was your weekend?
I had a great time this weekend. The weekly work is hard so I always try to enjoy my weekends. I often spend them at Vilanova i la Geltrú, a small seatown 45 minutes south of Barcelona. I walk on the beach, ride my bike, surf, or go to the market. Together with my girlfriend we go trekking across the mountains, or enjoy a proper wine or beer. We just had a baby and now that I am a father everything is much more intense. What I’m trying to do on weekends is staying 24 hours per day with my baby Pau.
This weekend I have been walking with Pau in Vilanova while my girlfriend was at the library studying Catalan. We had lunch with my partner Rafa’s family: It was the first time since Pau was born and we had a great time all together. Finally I returned to Barcelona at lunchtime as my mother-in-law was arriving there from La Rioja to stay with her grandson. Then I went running. We had dinner together and waited until Pau felt asleep to go to sleep early too. This morning I rose early and went surfing.
Tell us about your journey to work.
When we knew that my girlfriend was pregnant we decided to move to a flat near the studio. So we found this place that is 20 seconds from where I work: Which is great, I save time to stay with my son Pau. I normally have coffee at el Dende, a small café-restaurant just at the corner. While I’m having coffee I go over the agenda for the day and organise ideas and thoughts. I often share this moment with my business partner Rafa and together we go through the weekly meetings and presentations.
Describe the state of your desk.
I have a big oak wood desk, comfortable and cosy. Nonetheless it is always full of things I never use nor I need to have them on the desk, but I’m unable to tidy it up. I do envy all those people who manages having organised and not so busy desks, I wish I was like them. But I don’t manage.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Ever since I was a kid I was a nature enthusiast and loved everything that has to do with nature. The magazine that always followed me was National Geographic. I used to go out with my grandpa and he bought it for me together with the animal stickers. Back at home I used to trace all the animals onto drawing paper.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
The magazine that inspired me most is Egoïste. Its design almost goes unnoticed and doesn’t feel really important. I always thought of design as a medium, it should never be the main actor. I dare say that in Egoïste there is no design.
You work on multiple magazine projects. Do you have a single approach to them all, or do you approach each project differently?
Since I started the studio about 12 years ago, we’ ve designed many different titles and many more issues. Designing a magazine is no longer a challenge for us. Every commission is so different, the context and the goals are so different. We never have the same approach on an assignment. I would say that we have such a mastery in this discipline that in the last five years we have been developing editorial projects as experimental and diverse as we could. Eldorado and Odiseo are a good example of this. Our works aims to blur the difference between books and magazines.
What for you is special about magazine design, compared to general graphic design?
It is hard for me to be so specific and speak about magazine design only. To me, editorial design is a whole and you can design a magazine with so many different ways and approaches. I would say that the magazine design concept doesn’t exist anymore. I love talking in terms of editorial structures of information. Those structures can be given any shape or concept. What I really love about the discipline of design is that you can manage making design disappear and highlight what really matters, content. That’s when I’m comfortable about design.
Pick a spread from the new Eldorado and explain how it is typical of the magazine.
We designed the first volume of Eldorado to give the reader a calm and contemplative reading and visual experience. We gave great prominence to images and visuals: no borders, no frames. Pure images. In order to enhance the experience with a secondary level of information, we designed a structure that allows us to pair the traditional proportions of the body text with visual and textual elements that break the grid. Eldorado volume one is a limited edition bookzine that tells travel stories from a global collective of creatives and artists: it aims at both inspire and inform, showing places and making the reader imagining them.
What are you finding most frustrating about your work this week?
Every week we go through many frustrations but also many challenging and inspiring moments. It’s something you must be able to deal with in our job. You need to go beyond frustrations, otherwise they won’t let you work. I only look at the big picture. If it is positive that mean we are working well.
What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
Any of the meeting or presentations related to the brand identity of Barcelona Televisió. We won the contest for the redesign last July and since then we’ e been working really hard on all the facets of the project. It is an amazingly ambitious and interesting project to work on. We have been putting so much effort and thought into it. The project will be revealed on 17 January 2017.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Our Monday weekly meeting. It’s a tradition of the studio, that’s when we go over everybody’s tasks, talk about the new assignments and organise the whole week.
Photographs by Leo García Méndez