Over the last few years we’ve seen Italian culture magazine Kaleidoscope develop into a biannual highlight of the publishing calendar. This new issue is our latest Magazine of the Month.
Large, shiny, brash and colourful, Kaleidoscope has featured in our Shop window with spectacular vinyl graphics; it’s been through several design rethinks, without ever losing its clean, modernist, aesthetic; and we hear about a new issue before it arrives, thanks to customer emails and calls asking whether we have it yet, one of a select few magazines for which this happens.
Yet it has never had a ‘big bang’ moment, instead remaining under the radar for most magazine readers. This quiet rise is perhaps part of its success; if you know, you know.
It’s certainly crept up on us here at magCulture; until the last issue I didn’t quite have the measure of the magazine, but with issue 40, the launch of sister publication Capsule, and now the brand new issue 41, I’ve caught up. This is a magazine that matters, confidently owning what it describes as ‘contemporary aesthetics’.
To look first at its own aesthetics; a bespoke font, Monument K, features throughout, a heavy version of which is used for the new cover identity, where a large ‘K’ acts as logo, the weight of that character allowing it to contain additional images or colour. The six cover options of the new issue (above) show how that ‘K’ can operate.
There’s also an unidentified serif font and a series of hand-rendered, pixelated headlines (above). But it’s the use of images that define the magazine. The whole issue reads as a visual spree, the countless full page and collaged images taking a lead over the text, which appears almost as caption material throughout. That’s not to say there aren’t long texts, there are many interviews and profiles that make satisfying reads. But the balance between text and image is very much tilted in favour of pictures. Most are commissioned shoots, but there’s also space for screengrabs, collages and cut-out details—all telling stories and giving visual cues.
The one distinct editorial section is the longstanding ‘Season’ opening series of pages. Here we meet people and trends, each with a double page spread of image and text. As well as hearing from photographer Roe Ethridge and musician Emma DJ, we learn about a NY project that documents nameplate jewelry from an anthropological standpoint (above).
When we then meet illustrator Ana Benaroya (above), the section suddenly breaks step and we’re presented with eight full-page examples of her female superheros on matt paper.
Such twists and turns in pace continue through the 240+ pages, the images catching the reader rather than more obvious text signposting. Familiar names from this area of art/culture publishing regularly pop up: Charles Atlas, DJ Harvey, Hans Ulrich Obrist et al.
But there are also surprises: the current reboot of the term ‘Preppy’ is analysed in detail, the pages wittily mimicking the eighties book that first identified the style. I like the way the tone combines serious reporting with the gentlest of mocking (above); and an overiew of 2022 is dropped as a graphic novella at the back of the issue (below), written by Whitney Mallett, with treated visuals by artist PWR: Ukraine, Slapgate, movies, music, Britney, Depp v Heard… It was not a good year!
As I’ve noted here before, the fashion/trend world is not my heartland but I picked up a lot from this issue of Kaleidoscope. It calmly presents a rich mix of stories that confound expectations—I feel the magazine could feature almost anything in its pages if it were minded to. There’s a passion to learn that encourages the reader to do the same, and a confident authority to its editorial choices.
Kaleidoscope makes an excellent Magazine of the Month. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the future.
Publisher and creative director Alessio Ascari
Art direction and Design Kasper-Florio with Samuel Banziger