Many years ago, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was travelling two or three times a year from the U.S. through the Southeast Asian city state of Singapore. These trips were usually en route to Australia and Papua New Guinea to visit family and make “visa runs” during the summer and winter months. I got in the habit of visiting bookstores in Singapore and picking up a lot of novels along the way to satisfy my voracious reading habit on the long flights and months traveling this part of the world.
In Singapore, there’s a lot of contemporary literature by local writers published in English. One such book was “Man of Malaysia” by Tan Kok Seng. His novel reads like a memoir of a poor, working-class man coming of age and finding a life in a homeland that was going through rapid economic development and social change. For a young, white Western man, his story offered a fascinating and rare perspective.
Many years later, I stumbled upon this book in a box we unpacked during a move to a new home. The minimalist design and line-drawn portrait on the cover make the book stand out and is probably what first got my attention when I browsed the display tables of a bookstore in a mall off Orchard Road in Singapore those many years ago.
Good design can serve many purposes. One is to invite the viewer in, to pique a curiosity and draw them to further explore. This book didn’t change my life, but it offered profound, unique insight that likely I would not have gained had I not noticed the book in the first place.
We recently attended a small talk with the co-founder and editor of Apartamento magazine, Omar Sosa. The talk was at one of the creative marketing companies run by mega-global advertising agency TBWA in Los Angeles. Sosa (pictured at right in the photo above) with Emilien Crespo, the talk moderator at the agency, spoke at length about how he and his designer friends started Apartamento in Barcelona in 2008 and how the magazine has grown and developed a devoted, almost cult-like, global readership.
We’ve been picking up copies of Apartamento since the first time we spotted it on the rack at the McNally-Jackson Bookstore in New York City way back in 2009. Part of what sets the magazine apart is its documentation of what it calls “everyday interiors.” Rather than showing slick images of pristine, carefully-staged, aspirational living spaces in the tradition of many commercial “shelter” mags, Apartmento shows the spaces of various creators in their cluttered, lived-in, natural glory and in a more intimate photographic style.
Issue No. 3 of our favorite Euro-centric, global, artsy, small-format indie surf magazine has just arrived. We love Acid magazine, and this issue is a keeper (but aren’t they all? Yes, they are.) Lots of beautiful photography, essays and art in this one.
The clothing store Tenue de Nimes is among Amsterdam’s most influential purveyors of denim, clothing and style, if not its foremost. The shop reliably stocks an impeccably curated selection of well-made clothing, jeans, shoes and accessories, including a lot of limited edition items. The shop also publishes a popular tabloid-format magazine on newsprint called Journal de Nimes and recently delivered edition No. 9 of the magazine in English marking their 5th anniversary. Beautifully designed and illustrated, this issue of Journal de Nimes provides a Best Of list of the owners’ favorite places in Amsterdam to eat, drink, find culture and even get tattoos. Other highlights are an interview with Yuki Matsuda (of brands Yukaten and Monitaly) and a visit to a Japanese textile-making workshop.
Brand-awareness ads in magazines rarely come as simple, bold and minimalist as this two-page spread for the Italian bicycle maker Bianchi in the Dutch cycling mag Soigneur. Aside from logotype and slogan on aquamarine-like blue, the pages are blank. Love love love the color.
We were in Paris a few months ago when some ad agency friends in the French capital turned us on to a new and ground-breaking food magazine and restaurants guide that is blowing up in France at the moment. The magazine is called “Fooding,” and it’s providing a fresh approach — in historically conservative culinary France, at least — to how people think and write about restaurants, dining and food. Its timing coincides with a generational and cultural shift in France (a rebellion, some might say) in how food is prepared and presented within the restaurant dining experience. It’s a big deal because classic French cuisine is amazing, but firmly established and thus, until recently, relatively strict, rigid in its ways, hidebound to traditional methods. Though primarily in French, Fooding (or “Le Fooding”) has a lot of reviews translated in English. We really like the look of the magazine, its layout, design, photography, illustrations and graphics, as the photos from the 2013 edition of the guide below show. And we really appreciate the craft and design of an actual printed magazine, especially now, at a time when so many us consume magazine content online or digitally and — seemingly almost as a reaction to that — he art of the the small-run print magazine is showing a resurgence.