Monocle/Portfolio

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Today’s MediaGuardian has David Hepworth comparing Monocle and Conde Nast’s new US launch Portfolio, two new magazines aiming for the afluent business person. He concludes Monocle should be a TV show, and gives Portfolio a better chance of survival because it appeals more directly to the vanity of its potential readers. Read the piece here.

In case you haven’t seen a copy yet here are some pages from the $150m Portfolio.

Naturally, it’s a very American design, lots of devices and detail that from a European perspective are over-fussy. The need to look aspirational and upmarket seems to have confused the designers – there are lots of rather self-coscious ‘classical’ elements like double rules around features (below).

The launch issue feels almost unready, as if the many different components haven’t quite gelled yet. There are lots of single-page openers to features to accomodate, which makes the pace uneven. Here are a couple of spread openers:
portfolio spread

portfolio spread

A lot of the devices involve loose panels of yellow tint with parallel rules, as below, which give the pages a rather uncomfortable, if efficient, visual identity. (Another example can be seen floating on the left page of the Olympics spread, top). Overall, it feels too unstructured and certainly not aspirational enough, despite a clearly enormous photo budget.
portfolio close up

The one element I really like is the way the same yellow tint is used to create a box to the pull quote, below. I wouldn’t expect it to work but it does (ignore the run-of-the-mill type!):
portfolio close up

Like all new magazines, Portfolio is worth a look, but I expect more from subsequent issues. Interestingly, Conde Nast aren’t planning a second issue until September, from when it goes monthly. Lets hope they take advantage of that time to develop the design.

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