If you’re setting out to make a food magazine then you really have to have a unique point of view and vision – The Gourmand and Lucky Peach are miles apart, and smaller zines like Put a Egg On It supply the desire for more slap-dash, messy cooking stories. Finland-based Leon’s vision is of elegance and poise – if it were a restaurant it would have three Michelin stars, an immaculate wine list and a hint of opera in its rich dishes.
First and foremost Leon is smartly art directed – the magazine is put together by creative agency Leroy, so the emphasis is predominantly visual. The team know their topic well, and they state in the magazine’s afterword: ‘Creating work for various chefs has given us access to the intriguing machinery of food-creation and an insight into the future direction of gastronomy. Something we wanted to explore further and share with others. Without boundaries or a paying client asking us why.’ Leon is one of those magazines where designers are given free reign, so of course they devise a cover where 3D printed chocolate hands ooze on a dark blue background and where the art of food styling is celebrated in a shoot called ‘Aesthetics over Functionalism’ (above).
The magazine is not all looks though, as an interview with food activist Antto Melasniemi and a feature on the future of food intriguingly demonstrate. But Leon believes, just as judges on cooking shows constantly remind us, that content mustn’t just taste good but it must be well-presented. Quotes for the Melasniemi interview therefore cascade vertically in the centre of baby-blue pages like icing on a cake (above), and illustrations by Bureau Mirko Borsche elevate the striking red typography of the future of food article (below).
Instead of a traditional contents page, Leon has a playfully elegant spin on the periodical table, listing the pages where different food-stuffs are mentioned (above). Looking at the contents, I decided to find ‘Salmon’ on page 97. Instead of what I expected (a recipe), I found a slab of the stuff balancing elegantly on a model’s leg (below). This is what you should expect from Leon – when they look at a piece of food they see theatre and the opportunity for whimsical art direction.