CR April issue: redesign

Creative Review has been redesigned with a new size, new paper, new typography and, yes, a new logo

CR’s April cover. Illustration: Anthony Burrill

Creative Review has been redesigned with a new size, new paper, new typography and, yes, a new logo


Last month we celebrated our 30th birthday. It seemed the perfect moment to reinvent the magazine if we wanted to ensure its continued success over the next three decades.

There are two specific aims for the redesign: to create a better physical product and to get across the repositioning of our editorial stance that has been developing over the past two years.

Our website has been a fantastic success, bringing us hundreds of thousands of new readers from all over the world. But, inevitably, it raises questions over the printed magazine.

Print as filter: the new Grid spread brings together a month in images, from galleries, books and the web, as researched by the CR team

We knew that we needed to make the printed magazine even more distinct from the website. It had to be more tactile, more of a joy to handle, better quality. But finding the resources to do that is not easy in the face of a recession that has affected advertising, and therefore paginations and revenues, so badly.

We discovered that changes to the Royal Mail’s pricing structure meant that, by reducing the size of the magazine slightly to 250mm square we could save money. Which is all fine but not worth doing if the smaller format doesn’t feel right. So we had some old copies of the magazine cut down to the new size and found that it really worked. It felt good in the hand.

Then, we thought, what if we took the money that we would save from the size reduction and put it (and more) into the paper stocks. So instead of 90 gsm, the text pages are now on 135 gsm with Crit on 115 gsm uncoated. Instead of 250gsm, the coverstoack is now 300gsm. The thickest, best paper CR has never been on. Despite the mail cost saving, we are now spending more money per month on the production of the magazine, but we believe that our readers will appreciate the result – the pictures here don’t do it justice. You have to pick up a copy to really appreciate what a difference the new paper makes..

What’s On page from the front section

So we felt happy that new format and paper stock could deliver on our first requirement. The second involved some design changes.

Over the last two years, in response both to our readers’ wishes and the impact of the internet, the magazine has become less about simply displaying work and more about discussing that work. More than a year and a half ago, we dropped the 12-page Work section that displayed new projects with short captions and replaced it with an expanded Crit section of discussion and reviews. We wanted the design to reflect that CR is not simply a showcase magazine. We will show you great work, but we will also have something to say.

The new logo gives us more of a personality and much more of a presence on the newsstand (where up to half of our sales come from). Yes, the old logo worked well but it didn’t articulate what we wanted to get across about CR. It’s about recognising that the magazine is not just a blank canvas but the home of varied and strong opinions, whether from regular CR columnists, from those in the industry or from our Readers’ Panel.

Great images. Big: the new Hi-Res section

But that doesn’t mean we won’t be displaying great images. Our new sections The Grid and Hi-Res aim to deliver the visual hit that only print can bring. (Yes, we know The Guardian does something similar but it really should be a feature of CR too).

Features maintain a neutral stance, presenting the work without the design getting in the way (as we have always believed is right) and using Theinhardt, a new grotesk from Optimo, as the main display face. Each month we will present a case study of a new project which talks through the process and then asks a selection of industry figures to comment on the result (this month’s looks at Research Studios’ work for the BBC).

And a profile piece will showcase the career of a major figure, in this case, David James.

Other features this month include this extract from Eliza Williams’ new book This Is Advertising

The more opinionated stance of Crit is suggested by uncoated paper stock and the use of the more expressive typeface, Dala Floda, designed by Paul Barnes, which is also used in the logo. Dala Floda has its roots in tradition but feels contemporary and a little quirky – which seemd like a pretty neat fit with what we are trying to achieve for the magazine.

The redesign was done by our art director, Paul Pensom, but Paul Barnes worked with us a consultant on the typography, advising us on typeface choices, page furniture and the logo. For drop caps and other ornaments, we have used characters from a new project of his involving the revival and digitisation of the St Bride type archive (more on this in a later post). We’ve just used Caslon Shaded but there will be a lot more faces available in the future.

We hope that you enjoy the new-look Creative Review. It’s out on March 24.


Cover: Claro 300gsm
Text pages: Galerie Art Matt 135gsm
Crit: Festival Offset 115gsm.
Supplied by James McNaughton

Text: Lyon, designed by Kai Bernau, available from Commercial Type.
Logo, small headlines: Dala Floda, designed by Paul Barnes.
Display: Theinhardt, designed by François Rappo, available from Optimo.
Ornaments, drop caps etc: Caslon Shaded, revived by Paul Barnes for the St Bride Type Foundry.


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