Several months ago, I subscribed to the Midcentury Magazine after stumbling across their website and being extremely impressed by the articles they seemed to be offering. The first issue arrived a week later and I was surprisingly pleased and impressed by it. My second issue dropped through the letterbox yesterday, and once again I’m thrilled with it. Beautifully designed pages accompanied by quality writing and a superb reference point of Mid Century modern designers, both current and of the era. The latest cover looks like a print that could be framed itself.
“Midcentury Magazine is a UK-based biannual publication catering for all you 20th Century design enthusiasts out there.” Taken from the website.
This is essentially what this magazine does – and very well indeed. The variety of articles is well thought out: tapping into current trends (Super Sonics: The Turntable); showing off the kind of homes its readers will aspire to (Scheer Delight: A Bespoke Home from 1968); and even connecting with recent occurrences in the modern world (The Soul Creator: The man behind Tintin). My particular favourite from this issue was the insight into the home of Cherril and Ian Scheer. Designed by Gerd Kaufmann and built in 1968, the couple’s impeccable taste shines through the delightful photographs, matched by their enthusiasm and expansive knowledge of the era, design and history of the Hille company, the founder of which Cherrill is the granddaughter. Clearly, the reporting also matches the high quality of the rest of the magazine as the article oozes with information and warmth for their topic.
Unlike the also recently launched Vintage Life magazine, where the quality control appears to be arbitrary; here quality appears to be key. There is attention to detail in the consistency of the graphic design used and the style of writing employed. Precise prose using a readable, fluent style is always attractive to me: like many others, I don’t want to wade through indecipherable sentences to hit the heart of the subject. Nor do I want fluffy or sensationalist writing. The writers, including Emma Roper-Evans, Tabitha Teuma, Jo-ann Fortune and Tom Rigden, have targeted their audience perfectly. The result is comprehensible and distinctive.
Fantastic writing is matched by beautiful design:
The consistent approach of juxtaposing the text and superb photography (Ben Anders, Jonathan Goldberg and Tino Tedaldi) with bold stripes and sections of colour in Mid Century tones works well and brings a cohesion across issues and articles. Created by the design team of Tim Balaam and Kate Sclater at Hyperkit, it’s a striking look, simple in concept but stylish in execution.
The magazine is also more than just being a ‘good read’. It provides an excellent reference and inspiration point for Mid Century design. Accompanying captions provide details of the objects in the photographs where possible and there is an extensive directory at the back showcasing retailers working in this era of design. Yet, it doesn’t feel like the usual directory that gets crammed into the back of a magazine. In fact, it’s probably the first one that I’ve genuinely looked through with interest, before selecting websites to look up myself. Perhaps that’s because it’s coming up to Christmas and I need the present ideas, but surely that is the point of a well thought out directory? It’s not just any old company who came along and offered the cash for advertising; again, it feels like someone with an eye for quality and consistency has selected who they want to feature.
What Midcentury Magazine has accomplished where, for me, few others have; is to have produced a magazine that plays to its readers perfectly. It’s giving me what I want in the way I want it… Interesting articles, classy writing, inspiration for my own home and all encased inside a beautifully designed package. This magazine is not to be read once before resigning it to the recycle bin. It is to be read and referred back to again and again. Not only an essential for any Mid Century enthusiast, I think it’s destined to become a classic in itself.
For much more information, to read sample articles and to subscribe to Mid Century magazine, visit their website here. You can also follow them on Twitter @midcenturymag.
When I was younger, about 14, I used to have this pack of postcards by Taschen featuring iconic images of 1960s design. It was called – originally enough – Sixties Design. I loved them. They were firstly used to adorn my (orange!) bedroom walls and then later to send letters to Aidan during our holidays away from each other.
I’m not sure what made me think about them again; something last week reminded me of one of the images and once it was in my head, I wanted to see them again.
The more I research and find out about graphics, illustration and design… the more I want to find out about graphics, illustration and design. There are so many different styles, artists, eras, movements, techniques, purposes… I can’t look at it all, but I want to.
This ‘A is for Apple’ poster by The Fool is one of my favourite images. Just picture the students who might have learned their alphabet with the aid of this poster thanks to a hippy teacher with a love for the Beatles… and the creativity it must have inspired. This one will probably get enlarged to fit one of my classroom walls. Psychedelic stories, here we come!