On a very wet Autumn day in the inspirational surrounds of Central Saint Martins new-ish Kings Cross campus, magCulture’s The Modern Magazine day-long conference took place on 16th October 2013. With a lineup including some of the best current editorial creatives, the day promised much. And after a day scribbling notes, tweeting away and meeting a few fellow mag geeks, these are a few highlights of a fabulous day – part 1 of 3.
First up was Omar Sosa of Apartamento (“interiors as personal expression”) and his belief in the beauty of an unmade bed. His description of a printed magazine that is “something that ages and becomes part of our lives” was the first of many expressions of love for the printed product, it’s continuing vigor and our faith in the format, despite increasing competition.
Rosa Park, editor of Cereal magazine was the first to epitomize the idea that a magazine is an embodiment of it’s editor. Smartly dressed and minimalistic just as Cereal is, it was a observation that proved true throughout the day.
The one-man soundbite producer that is Monocle‘s Tyler Brûlé then covered the history of his baby. Quality not quantity is one of their “waterfall of commandments” and one often forgotten in the race for eyeballs across so much media. There were numbers I’d not heard before: up to 22% of their turnover comes from retail, more at Christmas; their first book sold out it’s first run of 20,000 copies; their radio station Monocle 24 was launched at the time everyone was pouring into tablets and has provided greater engagement for same price (1.5m downloads!).
Among his many quotable quotes were these:
– On collectability: “collecting a magazine might only be to the end of a flight”;
– On tablets, “magazines have a commercial back cover.” And mags say something about the person holding them: that back cover is valuable;
– On focus groups. “They’ll say whatever you want if you suffocate them enough in a room with biscuits”.
And then for something completely different, Eye‘s Simon Esterson. A man out of time he came across as a true patriot of design, even when describing his ownership of Eye as “a completely irresponsible way of behaving”. I’m sure I’ll trot out his “two things is a good idea, three things is a feature” at an editorial meeting soon. Flicking through the latest issue I bought at the conference, it was lovely to be reminded what happens when such care is taken in a printed product. I’d forgotten blacks could be produced that deep, lines that crisp, not to mention the range and quality of design writing.