︎︎︎ Confetti effect on page edges to denote IDEA Awards supplement.

(inside) Interior Design Review, issues 73–77


After the print edition of Grafik closed in 2011, I worked for Wallpaper* magazine and on the iPad edition of Wired UK before deciding to return to Australia for a bit of respite from hectic London life. Within weeks of arriving I became art director for the architectural division of (niche:) media, a long established publishing house based in Melbourne. My remit covered their architectural titles including two core magazine titles—Architectural Review Asia Pacific [︎︎︎more about this here] and (inside) Interior Design Review.

Architectural Review Asia Pacific had only recently been relaunched when I started, with Norm and Lineto’s Replica at its core (thanks for previous art director Sabine Selbach). Replica is a great typeface to work with and suited the title so there was little need to change anything there.

(inside), on the other hand, appealed to a much wider, less niche market and was therefore considered more successful. There was little reason for change. A redesign, undertaken a couple of years prior, had addressed the brand’s visual identity but there were still a few things the previous art director hadn’t found the time to address—the body text, for instance, hadn’t been updated for decades and was looking tired.

A typographic refresh

The cut of Garamond being used for body text had never been made for small scale type settings and was disappearing into the page. To improve readability, as well as boosting the modernity the title was known for, I started looking at the Plantin family of type—one with a rich legacy but had continued to keep in step with contemporary concerns (as demonstrated by Monocle magazine). With this in mind I wanted to find a less common cut and ended up with News Plantin for body text. Originally built for newsprint, News Plantin had a robust yet slightly off-kilter appearance when used within the context of a glossy interior design magazine.

To support News Plantin I searched for an agile, adaptable typeface that addressed current trends around smooth—almost monoline—geometric forms that had some odd quirks and ticks (like Erbar ‘a’s, etc.) to further emphasis (inside)’s unique visual identity. I had my eye on Maax for a little while and, after having a play with a couple of weights, it turned out to be a perfect fit.

I was so pleased the way Maax was helping set the tone for the magazine that I went back to editions205 and grabbed another one of their typefaces, Beretta, for use in subsidiary text such as captions. Beretta is interesting because, although the linework is constructed using spaced dots—essentially degrading—it becomes increasingly legible the smaller it gets. This gave the text a “grey” quality that let it recede on the page without having to make the text an actual grey colour. This took the guesswork out of how grey text might reproduce at small sizes.

Legacy

It took an initial three issues of testing various ideas out along with editors Leannae Amodeo, and later, Alexa Kempton to get (inside) to a place where we felt the design had settled into its place. Since departing (niche): I handed the reigns over to ex-Desktop art director Hannah Lawless to evolve the title further. My hope being that I’d created a visual identity that was roomy enough for play whilst being robust enough to be instantly recognisable as (inside).
This text was written for Font in Use and uploaded in 2013. See link at top of page to view the original article in context. If you’d like to hear more about changes made beyond just the typography, drop Michael a line via michael[at]okinterrupt[dot]email