The food magazine is such a traditional genre in publishing that it’s easy to overlook how far from lifestyle and recipes many wander. And perhaps the most adventurous is Mold, the New York title focused on the future of food.
Like a good novel, this penultimate issue – the team have a self-imposed limit of six editions – had me holding back on finishing reading it. I wanted it to carry on spreading its reach, every article using the theme ‘Seeds’ to stretch further from the expected.
The best themes are open enough to offer such space of course, and ‘Seeds’ has plenty of metaphorical scope. But Mold goes further; the mix includes a first person report of a window garden in New York that has its writer, performance artist Devonn Francis, expressing his envy of the freedom enjoyed by his germinating seeds (above).
In a familiar tale of sourdough starter shared during the Covid-19 pandemic, Lexie Smith reminds us that bread is a ‘reliable canary when the Earth’s coalmine is on fire’. As we grasped for control in a strange new lockdown world, turning away from the industrialised bread industry made sense. She notes how this obsession quickly dissipated as the murder of George Floyd triggered broader concerns.
The cover story is accompanied by Romain Lenancker’s beautiful photography of abstract seed-like objects. Alongside them, Dr. Suzanne Pierre uses the natural history of seeds as a stucture through which to weave the rise of humankind and our ideas of evolution.
Fermentation has been a hot food trend for some time. Opening with the story of Jewish émigres bringing yogurt cultures to New York, Dr. Johnny Drain describes the reciprical care inherent in the human-microbe relationship (above). His story is typical of the magazine in the way it weaves different subjects and tones; here we have history and science, fact and allegory.
Mold is a food magazine but like the best publications it contains so much more than it’s starting point. The issue addresses democracy, history, utopian idealism, human survival, climate change, design thought and immigration. And its pages look fantastic too; contemporary and urgent thanks to unfussy but confident typography. The design lifts the pages, a feat when so many images – the cover shoot and a Shaker portfolio by Amy Li aside – are technically relevant but of limited quality. The result is a contemporary and urgent articulation of the content.
Some magazines push the parameters of their content, others push their art direction and design. Mold belongs to that special catageory of magazines that successfully do both. It’ll be missed when it ceases after the final sixth edition later this year.
Editors: LinYee Yuan & Johnny Drian
Art direction: Eric Hu & Matthew Tsang
Design: Jena Myung