LinYee Yuan, Mold
We start the week in New York with LinYee Yuan, editor and founder of Mold magazine. LinYee is completing the production of the third issue of her magazine about the future of food. She has also just been added to the line-up for our ModMag NY Edition, which takes place in a couple of weeks.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work?
Like many New Yorkers, I start my Monday commute with a brisk walk to the train where I make sure to say hello to a neighbour who is like my human weather vane—if he’s out on his stoop, I can be sure that we'll have a solid day of sunshine. On the train, I typically knock out a few easy emails that require less than a few sentences for a response from my phone. And then I transfer trains and read the news on my phone for the rest of the trip—usually a mix of The New York Times’ Morning Briefing and QZ.co’'s chatty app. I save the print version of the New Yorker for my commute home.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office.
I'm someone who is inclined to accumulate knick-knacks—I pick-up paper, business cards, jump drives, press kits, and snacks everywhere I go—so I am always battling clutter. I’m also a person who has pretty predictable rituals so I always have a few key things on my desk: an oversized mug for hot water/tea, lip balm/hand cream, my daily notebook/calendar and some sort of seasonal supplement (this time of year its Chlorella). I also have a giant calendar on my desk so that I can take notes, and also look at the months ahead because I’m always negotiating dates and schedules.
Which magazine do you first remember?
I read Sassy and MAD in middle and high school but the magazine that had the biggest impact on me was Yolk, a magazine for Asian Americans that I discovered my sophomore or junior year of high school. It was very powerful to see people who looked like me on the cover of a lifestyle magazine. From that point on, I knew I wanted to work in the magazine world.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
There's a real flourishing of independent magazines right now and it's very exciting to feel like Mold is part of a movement. I am obsessed with Migrant Journal and the way that they've been able to package a complex, political, but deeply human issue in such an interesting and engaging way.
I also recently picked up Civilization and have been enjoying their provocative and thoughtful approach to creating a “lifestyle” magazine centred on the most deconstructed definition of a magazine—words on paper. It captures the feeling of living and surviving in New York City in this current moment.
At the risk of sounding predictable, I'm also an avid New Yorker reader and it’s the one print magazine that I have consistently subscribed to and read for the past decade. Because of my commute, I usually read it cover to cover over the course of the week. I like the pacing of it and it’s nice to start the week with the dish-y Talk of the Town, get into the meat of the features mid-week, and then wrap everything up with cultural criticism.
Can you describe your magazine in three words?
Design. Future. Food.
What led you to move from digital-only and tackle the future of food in a magazine format?
I had been publishing online for three years and was still being confronted with the same questions around what is food design? Print magazines as a medium, offer an opportunity for people to get intimate with a topic -- because our magazine is bi-annual, it means you have six months to read, page through and digest the content. The design and art direction is carefully considered - we're the first print magazine about the future of food and it is important for us to work with creatives across disciplines and geographies to produce a “food magazine” that sets the tone and expectation for the reader. The designers and art directors, Eric Hu and Matt Tsang, come from the world of fashion and architecture and have consistently produced a visually provocative and engaging magazine that really highlights the printed medium with nuance and rigor.
Additionally, because our magazine is thematic, we’re able to define the boundaries of food design from our perspective. Yes, it's about designing microbes. Yes, it’s about designing ritual through physical objects. No, it's not about plating food. No, it's not about the newest “superfood.” Yes, it’s about designing a more resilient food ecosystem that is regenerative, not extractive.
What’s the most exciting food technology we can look forward to?
I think there’s a couple of answers to this so here’s what I’m most excited about right now: Organic regenerative agriculture and the tools (precision agriculture, machine learning, biotechnology) for measuring and scaling these agricultural methods for the largest impact for our environment, labour and consumers. Blockchain technology and creating more transparency and equity across the supply chain—and how we’ll translate this data to better educate consumers about where their food comes from. Cellular Agriculture and its potential for offering plant-based alternatives to industrial livestock and seafood production.
What are you worrying about at work this week?
I’m currently working on the final stages of production for issue three of the magazine which will be about food waste. I'm also in the nascent stages of planning a big event for Mold in the fall of 2018 so stay tuned! That means we’re writing pitch decks and talking to as many people as we can to get this idea to a place that we can touch, taste and feel.
What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
Seeing Belly on the big screen tonight with my friends.
What will you be doing after this chat?
Answering some more emails. Eating a snack. Taking today’s magazine orders to the post office. Enjoying the sunshine!
LinYee will be speaking at ModMag NY Edition, along with Justinien Tribillon and Isabel Seiffert from Migrant Journal and Richard Turley from Civilization. Check the full line-up and book tickets.
Photographs of of LinYee by Vincent Tullo