Hey guys! This is Bri again, from Nugno. Now, with all this talk of editorial design, we thought it would be a great idea to pull in another voice of expertise on the subject and give you a peek at some of the ways that design can be a gateway to creative freedom.
We sat down with Fabian Leuenberger, Art Director for Transhelvetica, an innovative Swiss magazine focused on highlighting the unique cultural and travel aspects of Switzerland.
Leuenberger began working for Transhelvetica about five years ago and has since focussed on using graphic design and editorial layout to share stories worth reading.
Bri: So what would you say your target audience is? Would you say it's German travelers? Would you say it's Swiss people who want to get out of their comfort zone? What is your magazine’s ultimate goal?
Leuenberger: I think it's finding gems within Switzerland. Regarding travel destinations, routes and activities. That's one aspect, the travel aspect. And then what comes along with it is the people aspect - the culture aspect. Sometimes it's about traveling. And sometimes it's more about the cultural aspect. It really varies. As soon as you travel, you meet people and experience new places and I think that's kind of the field we're in.
Bri: How would you say the design of your magazine caters towards that travel lust and that sense of finding new cultures?
Leuenberger: What we tried to do is construct a relatively classical and peaceful way of layout. We chose a classical evenness, which keeps it relatively subtle and easy to read. It has a classical note. With some magazines, every article has a different layout, big typeface. But we tried to be a bit more subtle, a bit more classical.
We try to have as many large photographs as possible. I think to have a subtle and relatively quiet layout allows you to push the photo a bit more.
We try to be as elaborate as possible. With every little detail. We try to come up with a nice handcrafted typography and layout appearance so that it looks, not clean, but well sorted.
Bri: How would you describe the overall theme of your magazine?
Leuenberger: So we try to tell stories that we find interesting. But we don't try to sell stories. And I think that's a big aspect of how we transfer that mentality to our layout.
Bri: Can you describe your magazine’s process when choosing a cover photo?
Leuenberger: It's a long and democratic process in choosing a cover. We also try to vary our photographs from stunning nature photographs to zooming in on an object or a person. I think it really depends. I think it's waiting for that special moment, where you find, okay, this really hits the spot.
In general, we try to show the travel aspect. That is important because that is sort of the core business which we try to cater to.
And then there are so many different other aspects, which we negotiated on each topic. The picture has to have a certain graphic quality. It can't be too complex. Our name on top and the title at the bottom. It has to fit in, in that setup. How the cover layout works. It has classic qualities. And when you have classic qualities in the photograph, it's relatively calm.
It has to be calm even if it's very dramatic. A lot of things can go on within the photograph, but the composition has to be calm and tranquil.
And I think that contrast of the photo cover having sort of common collected design attributes but may be showing something very dramatic, like a dramatic landscape. That would almost be the ideal.
Leuenberger: It would also be maybe a bit too boring to always use striking nature photography. Like a lake in front of some mountains. So we try to vary it.
What we try to find in a photo is the travel aspect. But sometimes that is completely neglected in the photograph - if we find that the photograph has a quality that suits the topic, and just grabs the attention. So sometimes we take the risk in order to be more appealing.
And I think that contrast of sometimes having stunning nature photographs, sometimes having portraits, or objects and then sometimes having a piece of art on the cover keeps it relatively alive.
You hardly ever know what you're going to get. And that surprise element also is important.
But we keep surprising people. And on a strategical level you might have to say, oh, we're not appealing very much to the travel partners on the travel industry. But you have to take that risk to be able to surprise and I think that surprise element - I love that within it with our cover art.
I think that the liberation of not being too commercial sometimes helps to keep the surprise element.
Bri: What is your favorite part of being in the field of editorial design?
Leuenberger: I think it's the storytelling element. I love stories, a good story is an amazing thing. It can come in so many different forms and shapes. And I was always drawn to graphic design and typography, and that is somehow one way to be a storyteller. I can't write. So graphic designing, that is my way of sort of storytelling.
And I think in editorial, one of the most important things you have to do is read and try to understand what you're doing. And you have to try to dive into that world. Otherwise, you're never going to get that depth that I think you need. You have to jump in.
This magazine is printed entirely in German, yet, the brilliant design, typography, graphics and photographs allows the magazine to transcend beyond language barriers and manages to convey adventurous stories even if the audience does not speak German.
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Nugno is a Branding & Digital Design studio. Founded and run by strategic branding & digital design experts that shares a love of innovation, design and digital connection.
We create strategy and design with production across all platforms. We’re masters of brand identity and on point with websites and apps. Our skills extend to designing books people want to read and environments they feel comfortable in. We also create engaging motion design and much more.
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Luca Amoriello, Director
Tel: +353 (0)87 383 2134