It seems like yesterday that Lunch Lady launched in the UK and we picked issue one as our Magazine of the Week. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength and we find ourselves revisiting it as the 14th issue hits the shelves three years later. We look through five spreads to sum up what makes it so popular.
From the start, the magazine settled on a strong visual formula for the front cover, accompnaied by the tagline ‘food + family’. The page is always bisected by two complimentary, bright, patterns, with a contrasting wrap-around cloth spine, making it instantly recognisable. A photograph takes centre place with a gloss finish, summing up the vibe of the magazine with its playful nonchalance. It seems to have that sunny disposition that comes with its Australian roots, and the hand-drawn patterns and titles continue as design features throughout the magazine.
Lunch Lady was started by Kate Berry as a food blog with emphasis on healthy family meals, so it is unsurprising that this is the focus for the first half of the magazine, along with a smattering of DIY play projects. However, what really struck me was the absence of an editorial letter, (Berry left in 2017, and publishers Louise Bannister and Lara Burke took over) I didn’t expect to miss it as much as I did – such an opener allows you to orient yourself and involve yourself in the magazine’s concept as much as its contents. It feels somewhat anonymous without one.
In this issue, an essay by Courtney Tabor-Abbot about blind parenting is complemented by an insert showcasing an accessible typeface that combines visual lettering with raised braille dots. This typography has been developed by Japanese designer Kosue Takahashi to allow sighted and non-sighted people access to the same information at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. A great find for the magazine and not where I’d have imagined coming across this revelation!
Lunch Lady is kid-friendly but not for kids, as this architectural-focused story will make clear. Quite a lot of the magazine is a little indoorsy, so it’s interesting to get the Lunch Lady perspective on aspirational ways of living outside of the kitchen or playroom. It balances out the magazine’s focus and is one of several longer family-oriented pieces in the second half of the magazine.
Rounding out the magazine is a cheeky little section called ‘reflections’, where parents get their say. There’s plenty of dry humour in these anecdotal stories, and the look of these pages is pared down: no patterns or images, just stories told well. It’s a little acknowledgement that not everything in life is as clean and tasteful as it appears in the rest of the magazine.
Editor: Louise Bannister
Creative director: Lara Burke
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