Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Engrossed by design

I've disappeared a little into analogue recently - I've become absolutely obsessed with typography and magazines. It started with Stack Magazines - a subscription service where you get sent a different magazine every month on rotation from a group of 'independent' magazines that are slightly quirky - so Wire, Little White Lies, Oh Comely, to name but a few. It's hit and miss but I really love the ethos.

Then I did some research on bike magazines to further feed my obsession and discovered The Ride, Rouleur, Privateer and Boneshaker, among many many others (though those are the ones which I think will persist when the whole fixie frenzy has died down).

From there, it's been a wonderful and rewarding journey via Frankie, Make, Fire and Knives, Sew, Monocle....resulting in subscriptions to not only Stack, but Singletrack and Wired UK.

By now, you're probably thinking 'how can one person read all of those magazines'. Well, I have a confession to make. Quite easily. I finished reading Frankie 70 minutes after opening the cover on the bus journey into Manchester this morning. I can read half of Boneshaker in bed before I go to sleep. My RSS feed would probably terrify a lot of people - it doesn't really keep me occupied. I was consuming masses of information that was work related but due to various factors, not least feeling entirely burnt out and watching my motivation disappearing quickly down the pan, there is a space where the work reading once was and instead of local government I instead read about beautiful fabrics, beautiful dresses, beautiful journeys and beautiful bikes, perhaps in the hope that some of the beauty will rub off on me. All of these magazines are beautifully designed, all are beautifully laid out. All are full of elegant and precise words and prose, accompanied by excellent illustrations.

And perhaps that's the attraction. The web is not. Whether we like it or not, the nods to accessibility and IE6 in local government mean that I spend my day looking at websites which are, at best, functional, and most of the time not even that. They're minimal and workmanlike. They're completely focussed on delivering information and transactions as quickly and as painlessly as possible - they are not designed to intrigue, nor to warm, to elicit laughter nor pique curiosity.

My magazines are a defence against the utilitarian necessity of simplicity. They are a rebellion.

There will always be a place for analogue in my life.

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