The Modern Magazine conference kicks off
The Modern Magazine morning began with Omar Sosa (Apartamento), Rosa Park (Cereal) and Tyler Brûlé (Monocle), just a few of the great figures in the magazine industry set to take the stage.
‘Thank you for the punishment of being the first speaker’, began Sosa, the co-founder and art director of Apartamento. ‘I’m the Spaniard, I’m supposed to be eating breakfast right now.’
Teamed with Nacho Alegre, they began the task of producing an interiors magazine that featured interesting people and the relationship they have with the places they live, aiming to produce a magazine that wasn't from Barcelona for Barcelona, but a publication with an international appeal printed in English.
Apartamento is comprised of a series of home-centric short stories, illustrations, photographs, profiles and lengthy interviews with people in their homes. Interviews with Bob Gill, Tomi Ungerer, and Ai Wei Wei, among numerous others, give insight into their character through language and imagery. In the spirit of the magazine, Apartamento fills its pages with real living spaces that break from the polished and curated homes of other, glossy interiors mags. Their competitors ‘missed life and were too sterile’, propagating the idea that ‘a perfect arrangement of chairs’ somehow amounts to making a house feel like a home.
Sosa showed slides that demonstrated their preoccupation with ‘human occupation … living with a bit of mess’. But, at some point they were concerned they were showing no furniture or corresponding design credits, ‘we decided we’d make some product still lives to entice advertisers. We started with ceramics and continued with fabrics and kitchenware … then we realised advertisers didn’t care. Then we went with more useless things, like tape and clay, why not? It’s beautiful.’
Making magazines for Apartamento includes designing shop fronts, traveling and launching food events (Tasca Milan, 2011 with Jasper Morrison).
Rosa Park, founding editor of Cereal magazine (based in Bristol) is a quarterly food and travel publication that looks and behaves a lot like a book. It is a reflection of Rosa’s obsessions – cleanliness, Modernity, white space – and is the realisation of her curiosities developed over three to four chapters per issues. Known for it’s beautiful imagery, painstaking measures including rigorous planning and researching are taken for the editorial to match or surpass the magazine’s visuals.
Parks set out to replicate the Cereal reading experience online, ‘with an exclusive features section and a blog of original content’ as well as a new sister site called Explore set to launch next month.
Cereal is a ‘certain brand of minimalism’ that increasingly extends to lifestyle products, which include journals and notebooks designed by the Korean stationary company O-Check, photographic prints and tote bags made in collaboration with the clothing company Albam. Their 20,000 print run is set to double by next year along with the addition of advertising.
Keynote speaker Tyler Brûlé is a magazine heavyweight. After founding Wallpaper* in 1996 (which was sold to Time Warner in 1997) and building design/branding agency Winkreative, Brûlé launched Monocle magazine in 2007, which covers international affairs, business, culture and design. Now in it’s 67th issue, he recalled Monocle’s rise to success, ‘speaking grittily and commercially’ about making magazines. They publish ten magazines and two newspapers (‘something more disposable’ as a spin-off, designed with the holiday goer in mind) whilst broadcasting around the clock, as well as maintaining retail outlets and cafés that complete the brand vision.
‘Great journalists are great salespeople’, said Brûlé. In response to a question from the audience, Tyler said that in 2005, they saw media consultants suffocating focus groups, and that the model didn’t lead to beneficial criticism. ‘We respond to readers … we have a very responsive business. It’s about being in front of your audience all the time and meeting them. If we have to do a focus group, we do it internally.’
And apparently, the key to covers is eyewear, beards and an apron. ‘If you can throw a dog in there, even better. There is science to covers actually!’ Tyler concluded by saying, ‘Every success is yours, if it fails, it’s your failure.’
By Sarah Snaith