Design and Place Times Three
At the time of writing these are our three most recent issues. All delve into the relationship between design and place. Prior to these issues we chose a different theme for each issue, so for us this three issue series on a single theme is unusual. So, why did we do it?
The challenges we face
One of the challenges we found with the one theme per issue was that the themes we chose all tended to be bigger than could ‘fit’ into a single magazine. There are a couple of reasons why this challenge arose. The first was our deliberate decision to buck the narrow (niche) focus trend in magazine publishing. We remain consciously broad, dividing the field into four design domains; communication, spatial, object and experience. We try to incorporate ideas from several, if not all, of the domains into each issue/theme. We want the ideas and approaches from each to rub up against each other to see what pathways and opportunities for novel thinking they opened up.
The other reason we struggled to fit themes into single issues was the nature of the themes we chose, for example ‘By Hand’—Issue Three, ’Simplicity’—Issue Five or ‘Touch’—Issue Six. Big, big themes despite the small titles (and Design & Place is no different). In order to manage the huge scope of themes such as these, we introduced the meta themes of Mind (intellect), Soul (spiritual) and Body (practical) which we applied alternately to each issue providing a little direction to how we selected content. It also meant that we could revisit a theme at a later date with a different meta theme focus if we chose.
Why we really did the series
In a sense this doesn’t really answer the question of why we did a three issue series. The real answer is as simple as because we wanted to see if there was any value in carrying a theme through the three meta themes in sequence. We will leave you to judge the value of that. It certainly threw up a few new challenges for us.
As you may be aware we have a new design team working on each issue. This was certainly no different for issues seven to nine. The three very different teams had no contact with each other. Our challenge was to create three issues that were unique and drew on the differing skill sets of each team. And were visually linked in some way. The nature of the process for each issue precludes using the same internal design so we had to find another way.
The solution was in the cover and how we found a way to carry just a few elements through. As a result each issue works as a stand alone and as a set—just—which is all we really wanted. Each issue has a letterpress cover and internally a different grid and type and colour palettes. For the series we employed minimal trimming so that the normal printer info—trim guides, registration marks and colour bars show. The top edge is completely untrimmed to show the burst fold. Our intention was for you to see some of the mechanics of the ‘place’ that is a design magazine and offer a little unusual interactivity.
We also pushed the design as far out into the ‘waste’ area as we could get away with. It seemed a waste not to use the extra space we had available to us.