Harriet Fitch Little, Kindling
As Kinfolk marks its tenth anniversary with a new design, it’s Copenhagen-based publishers are also launching Kindling, a new magazine for parents and children. We start this week at work with Harriet Fitch Little, Editor of Kinfolk and Editor-in-chief of the new title.
Kindling could hardly be more different to its parent magazine. The handbook-sized guide has a relaxed graphic style using infographics and hand-drawn illustrations to share stories that range from ‘the serious to the silly’. It’s a fresh approach to parenthood and a genuinely exciting new launch.
What are you up to this Monday morning?
Hopefully I’ll be dialling into a video meeting of the Giraffe Lovers Alliance, chaired by my two-year-old goddaughter in Dublin. But she has a fairly lax approach to time keeping, so I will probably make do with calling John—Kinfolk’s editor in chief—who is based at the offices in Copenhagen.
I’ve always worked remotely, but it’s been even more remote than usual over the last year. I moved from London to the countryside and obviously haven’t been able to visit Denmark. Kindling has been made entirely over Zoom: our art director Staffan Sundström is in Copenhagen and our design director Alex Hunting is in London.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see from where you sit.
There are three places I work in the flat: a windowsill that I use as a standing desk, my actual desk, and the sofa. I try to move through these in order of laziness over the course of a day, but I’m normally on the sofa by 11am.
Above my desk, I have a painting of a woman with her head on fire.
Posters promoting the new magazine in Copenhagen
Are you feeling optimistic about 2021?
On a personal level, yes, quite. In any more global sense, no. Things have felt pretty hopeless for the past four years or so. But one of the things I find oddly calming is thinking about all the environmental red tape that exists, like when you read about how someone can’t build their dream house because there’s a bat living in a nearby tree. There should be a magazine full of those stories.
Which magazine do you first remember?
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying The Beano, but you are talking to a true super fan. I used to wear head-to-toe club merch to school. My friend Orla subscribed to The Beano during lockdown, so I was reading it recently at her flat. It’s so funny. And I’ve clocked that in the jokey ‘note to Ed’ captions, Ed means editor. I am Ed!
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I definitely miss the print version of The Economist’s 1843. I like ‘ideas’ magazines like that, but for some reason they seem to struggle in the UK. 1843 was really well balanced: you’d get a long form on robot morality next to a column laying into the folding chairs at Paris Fashion Week. That mix between serious and silly is what I’d like for Kindling.
In Issue One we’ve got lots of fun stuff, but we’ve also got a report on the damage done by orphanages as a form of social care, which many people will find difficult to read.
I’m also interested in The Fence, which is a relatively new satirical magazine. It’s very London-centric, but they’ve got some really funny ideas—like a format where they review the reviewers, i.e. critics like Giles Coren.
The design, by Mathias Clottu, is amazing: the grid is very sober, it could be the London Review of Books, but there are doodles all over the place and these really bombastic type-only pages.
Describe Kindling in three words.
Cute. Clever. Easy-going.
A magazine about kids and parenting isn’t the most obvious addition to Kinfolk. What inspired it?
Honestly, it started with the name! Kindling’s first life was as a quarterly magazine about fatherhood that circulated in the US from 2013 to 2014. After it wound up publishing, Kinfolk acquired the right to use the title.
I wouldn’t call what we’ve done a relaunch, it’s a different magazine now, but we’re very happy to be building on that legacy. David Michael Perez (one of the original founders, along with August Heffner) is part of our editorial board. He’s been really encouraging, which is great. It mattered to us that he likes what we’ve done with the title.
More generally, a magazine about raising children just made a lot of sense. Kinfolk has been publishing for ten years and a part of our readership has aged with us.
Is the magazine based on personal experience or do you have professional advisors?
We’ve got an editorial board of parents and educators who read through the magazine before it goes to press, and sometimes send ideas or write pieces. I’m not a parent, but I think that is something you’d want to have in place for a magazine like this regardless.
We want to make something that feels relevant to anyone currently involved in raising a child—a single mother, a foster carer, a grandparent who’s been roped in to do the afterschool shift. Doing that requires a diversity of voices.
The vast majority of our contributors are people currently raising children, but there are exceptions. For the launch issue Elle Hunt wrote a piece about the boom in ‘family gap years’. She was the right writer for that story because she spent four years living on a boat with her parents when she was a child. I think it’s interesting for us to write about being parented as well as parenting.
Kinfolk is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a fresh look; it’s almost unrecognisable now from the original iteration. What would you say to people who still have it filed under the latte/Instagram cliché?
Pick up a copy! I think it’s been eight years or so since there was a cup of coffee pictured in the magazine. Kinfolk has evolved with every issue, like all magazines, but those first few issues clearly resonated with a particular slow living zeitgeist, so they continue to have a currency that is somewhat separate from the magazine itself.
Having said that, I don’t think any of us who make it really mind: there are worse things in the world than people posting nice pictures of your magazine on Instagram.
Are there plans for further additions to the Kinfolk range?
Unfortunately Catfolk and Kinkfolk have both been vetoed.
What will be your highlight of the coming week?
My sister is visiting and I have tricked her into thinking that digging over my allotment in the rain is a good holiday. One of the few advantages of the pandemic is that it has dramatically lowered everyone’s threshold for ‘fun’.