Media Design: AIGA Eye On Design, Cosmopolitan UK, Sojournal, 391
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design — both past and present, print and online — from South Africa and around the world:
- Independent print: AIGA Eye On Design presents and blends stories in a way that revolts against orthodox design practices while pushing the limits of ‘good taste at the same time
- Commercial print: Cosmopolitan UK questions the term ‘supermodel’, admonishing all haters and rebuking any bigots out there
- Online: Sojournal is a cultural resource packaged in the form of a sensibly designed website, filled with succinct content about fresh and original interiors
- Iconic: 391 was a non-conformist, unorthodox periodical that promoted the unaesthetic, borderline verbose, and extremely difficult to rationalise within the realms of art and design
Cosmopolitan (UK), October 2018
Questioning the term ‘supermodel’ and admonishing all haters and rebuking any bigots out there, the latest issue of Cosmopolitan UK calls out many fashion designers, film producers, advertising agencies and the like who would still rather forget that women aren’t objects. Relegating most women to the sidelines of society and slating them for their bodies, such constructs — idealised and invented images of femininity — are far from empowering and differ greatly from the lived experience of women.
Giving new meaning to a thought shared by many women when viewing Cosmopolitan covers — “if only I could look like her” — UK plus-size model, Tess Holliday, confidently graces the cover of the October 2018 issue of Cosmopolitan UK, making a powerful statement about women who exist outside the dated constructs still dictated to us by the media. Holliday’s performance — with her emerald-green silk lingerie, auburn hair and eclectic collection of quality tattoos — deconstructs traditional notions of the cover model. The positive impact of Holliday’s unapologetic cover effectively competes against any negative, ignorant sentiments that support the idea that Cosmopolitan is promoting obesity.
AIGA Eye on Design (US) issue 2, September 2018
Sporting a visual language that seamlessly complements its name, the second issue of AIGA Eye on Design (AEOD) is not only an ode to the mind-bending illusions of op-art, recalling the work of Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley, but it is also a superior example of publication design and magazine-craft. Themed “Psych”, this issue dissects the juncture that connects contemporary design with psychedelic experience, performed in an off-beat and unorthodox manner that works so well, it would catch Aldous Huxley’s eye.
Designed by multidisciplinary graphic designer and art director, Shira Inbar, this issue of AEOD constructs a visual and literary narrative that redefines the boundaries of design journalism, presenting and blending stories in a way that revolts against orthodox design practices while pushing the limits of ‘good taste’ at the same time. The reportage, interviews, and visual essays in this issue includes stories about the anonymous women responsible for some of the best psychedelic designs during the ’60s, recreational and vocational drug usage among contemporary designers today, and a record of acid-induced psychedelic design. Printed using copious amounts of DayGlo ink, this issue of AEOD also contains a tear-out poster designed by Slovenian Graphic Designer, Nejc Prah, accompanied by contributions from The Rodina, Alexis Beauclair, Leta Sobierajski, and Jesse Reed, to name a few. Seriously cool and bound to be a collectable.
Sojournal (Germany), September 2018
Looking for an answer that lies beyond the mainstream and commercial design trends, Berlin-based Sojournal is an online interiors magazine focused on bespoke living spaces and curated built-environments. Cosmopolitan and connected, Sojournal is a cultural resource packaged in the form of a sensibly designed website, filled with succinct content about fresh and original interiors.
The design of the site is clean, almost minimalist, embracing the virtue of white space. Textbook typographic pairings complement the layout of the site with a tasteful awareness of proximity, placement and composition, executed artfully. Subtle fade-ins and minor animated elements serve to accent everything beautifully, fulfilling an effective interactive experience. The right-aligned, vertical sidebar is the pièce de résistance, containing intuitive navigational elements that function well as doorways to the rest of the site and its considered contents. All this is proven by the nomination and honorable mention that Sojournal got from Awwwards.
391 (Barcelona, Spain, and New York, US) 1917–1924
Nestled between the year 1916 — when Hugo Ball seeded the birth of dadaism with his “Cabaret Voltaire” (featured in this column in July this year), and the year 1918, when Tristan Tzara started his review called “Dada” — was an anti-art periodical called “391”. Both Cabaret Voltaire and Dada were based in Zurich, the birthplace of dadaism, but the latter had evolved quickly and developed in other geographies, such as New York and Barcelona where 391 was initially based.
New York was a refuge for many European creatives escaping from the effects of WWI. The metropolis created opportunities for prolific proto-conceptual artists, such as Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Man Ray, who met in 1915 and became key organisers of anti-art, dada happenings within the city. Although these exponents never really referred to themselves as dadaists, they nonetheless kept with the true spirit of dada, subverting cultural institutions in New York. The radical creative output of these creatives, which had become an international movement, allowed Picabia to publish his periodical, 391. The publication’s content was mostly literary and provocative in approach and tone, with submissions from Ray and Duchamp, among many other artists related to dadaism. Picabia envisioned 391 to be non-conformist, against all orthodox rules or systems, and promoted art to be unaesthetic, borderline verbose, and extremely difficult to rationalise.
First published in Barcelona in 1917, 391 was in many ways a European analogue to the New York-based avant-garde magazine, “291”, which was published by the infamous photographer and gallerist, Alfred Stieglitz (his spouse was the equally infamous artist, Georgia O’Keefe). Picabia published his first mechanical drawings in 391, featured on the cover of the very first issue, accompanied by the text, “Novia, au premier occupant”, meaning “girlfriend, or bride, the first, or primary, occupant” in Spanish. It’s no coincidence that these drawings are reminiscent of a number of Duchamp’s works, notably “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même)”, also known as the large glass. Four issues of 391 were published in Barcelona before Picabia relocated production to New York, aided by Duchamp from #5 to #7. Issue 8 was published in Zurich, after which the publication moved to Paris where it remained until #19, which would prove to be the final issue printed in 1924.
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) is a designer, writer, and educator currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, working in the fields of communication design and digital media. He works from Gilgamesh, a small design studio, and is a senior lecturer in graphic design at Vega School in Cape Town. Connect on Pinterest and Instagram.
Media Design, formerly Cover Stories and MagLove, is a regular slot deconstructing media cover design, both past and present.
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