We all know that the internet has given niche markets the ability to gather and create online communities from all corners of the globe, but now we’re able to see a new phase of interaction amongst these groups as they search for the next best thing, that is, the real thing.
This observation stems from many a trip to Magnation and witnessing the amount of new-wave foodie magazines being released onto shelves. Kinfolk, Cereal, the Gourmand, Lucky Peach and Gather Journal are just a few of the many that feature recipes, beautiful photography and articles all based around the subject of food.
Although each magazine holds a slightly different style, it is evident how much design and consideration has been put into each publication to ensure it creates the best experience for their favoured reader.
The balance of white space, the carefully kerned serifs, the justified columns and grainy film photography all speak to an audience in search for simplicity and authenticity. Even the choice of uncoated stock conveys the ideal of stumbling upon an old recipe book, and spending a special afternoon making the perfect tea cake.
However, a shift has taken place. We now not only want to reproduce the recipe as listed in the magazine, we also want to know what it should look like, where is best to enjoy it, who is best to enjoy it with and which angle is best to post it on instagram afterwards.
It only seems natural then that such publications would launch local events and gatherings to keep their established communities engaged.
A great example is the story of Kinfolk, a publication turned global food community which originated from Portland in the US. Not only do they publish issues quarterly, they curate seasonal ‘gatherings’ every so often to welcome like-minded “food-loving friends, photographers, designers, cooks and other creative types” who share the same values and opinions, but not necessarily the same city or country. These events and gatherings contain the same ideals and aesthetics as their printed counterparts – just in a three-dimensional capacity.
The Kinfolk Gatherings have huge online traction as they involve local chefs, bloggers, designers and stylists depending on the city they’re in. This is a two fold process, as it allows them to constantly generate new content. They enlist an army of photographers to document each gathering as it unfolds, allowing for a new post to keep us entertained online, or printed feature to read in their next issue.
Not surprisingly, this roaming-foodie-community has made it’s way to Melbourne. For example, Pot & Pan is an owner operator duo from Melbourne who provide Culinary Tailoring for different occasions and pop up events. Conjuring ideals of medieval feasting, Otis Armada (and their tagline “savour. relish. repeat”) recently hosted a Winter series of dinners exploring the communal experience of food, art, music and wine in one setting. Sticky Fingers Bakery have also devised Sweet Talk, a “conversational workshop exploring inspiring baking tips and ideas” for burgeoning bakers.
In all of these examples though, it is design which is needed to promote the same level of intimacy that was attractive in the first place. A fine line between commercial appeal, yet still niche enough to create an authentic and special experience. Much like Kinfolk, Cereal, the Gourmand, Lucky Peach and Gather Journal, these sites all employ beautiful photography, bespoke design and considered copy to convey their unique positioning against other culinary driven projects.
As graphic designers we constantly battle with the notion that ‘print is dead’. However, this example of Kinfolk proves that print hasn’t died but rather evolved to create a different type of user engagement. Our access to anything and everything at the same time means that we won’t settle for complacency, and that publications, games, TV shows and films will need to adapt to our growing needs to see and feel more.
We can only expect that traditional design mediums will not only evolve to impart a sense of authenticity and fulfilment for users, we will witness the integral role of design in facilitating this unique experience.