Steve Kroeter, Editor-in-Chief, Designers & Books
Today we're browsing through the magazines of Steve Kroeter, editor-and-chief of Designers & Books. Every week, the site adds a new book list to its collection, one that’s been curated by a designer of note, so today we’re turning the tables around. We’ve asked Steve to make his own list for us - a list of favourite magazine issues.
Next week Designers & Books also launch a Kickstarter campaign in collaboration with the Centre of Italian Modern Art in New York to publish a new facsimile edition of the 1927 monograph Depero Futurista. Fortunato Depero's artist book is also known as 'The Bolted Book' because it's famously bound by two large industrial aluminium bolts. To celebrate this incredible piece of publishing history, Steve has selected 3 more recent examples of print that he finds intriguing.
As always, we asked Steve to select a new issue, an old issue, and another thing...
A new issue: Gratuitous Type, #4.5
‘You'll want to take a look at this,’ the art and design book buyer at McNally Jackson said to me the other day. She handed me a copy of Gratuitous Type. Given the condition of the few remaining copies, there were a lot of people who had taken a look before me. It was issue 4.5, the fifth overall but the first ‘half issue’ - an idea to return to topics not entirely exhausted in the full issues. This is just one of the twists and turns of the self-described ‘occasional pamphlet of typographic smut celebrating the letter in all its forms.’
There have been five issues since January 2011 - with all the key specs (edition sizes, trim sizes, page count, printer, and special features - centerfolds, silkscreened inserts, die cuts, cover acetates, enclosed prints) varying from one issue to the next. 4.5 includes a smorgasbord of smut: interviews, essays, an art portfolio, and the article I spent the most time on: Designer as Shopkeeper. GT’s considerable flair comes from the intelligence and innovative spirit of its inventor, Elana Schlenker - who for this issue indulged her love of polka dots in especially apparent and easily appreciated ways (shown).
An old issue: House Beautiful, 1955
I managed the Frank Lloyd Wright Collection licensing program for 20 years and over that time I accumulated a lot of Wright-related stuff. Somewhere along the line I bought a copy of the November 1955 House Beautiful that was devoted to Wright's ‘contribution to the beauty of American life.’ Elizabeth Gordon was the editor of the magazine then and a huge Wright fan.
She brought in one of Wright’s Taliesin Fellows, John deKoven Hill (or was it that Wright installed him there?), as architectural editor to help with the issue. Everything about it is interesting if at times over the top - from the way Wright is idolized (quoted as saying ‘I believe a house is more a home by being a work of art’) to the articles Wright contributed (‘Faith in Your Own Individuality’) to evidence of the Mad Men era in advertising (‘More than 1,000,000 Families Enjoy Modern Living with the Filter Queen Method of Home Sanitation’).
And another thing... (or three!)
The oldest is a copy of the March 1950 Flair - issue two. The die-cut cover hints at what Fleur Cowles, the editor, had in store for the reader. The table of contents was two color; contents in black, page numbers in red. The masthead (all in red) included a ‘representative for Italy.’ And then there is one feast for the eyes - and the mind - after the next. Bound in sheets of varying size; a bound in art portfolio; no two pages using the same paper (or so it seems), a feature on beds followed by a feature on Spain. A half-page opposite side gatefold (that opens like Rolls Royce doors). An article by Margaret Mead. Almost too much! Indeed it seems it was too much, as the magazine ran for only 12 issues.
Also from the 1950s - the Spring 1958 issue of The Paris Review (its fifth anniversary). This one notes on its cover the interview with Hemingway and drawings by Giacometti (though it neglects to mention fiction by Roth). The website I publish, Designers & Books, ran a story a while back (January 2014) about how cover design has helped define the cultural significance of the TPR.
From 1976 the New Yorker with the Steinberg cover. I have a cache of these I got from somewhere a long, long time ago when I thought they would some day be worth a lot of cash. Hasn’t happened. On the cover, off in the background geographically improperly nestled next to Canada (and almost within view of Russia) is Chicago, where I lived prior to decamping for New York.