Erotic Review Studio Frith

Good Reads: Erotic Review relaunches with a suggestive new look

Studio Frith is behind the creative direction and design of the reincarnated magazine, which is exploring desire in its many forms and complexities today

First published as a pamphlet by the Erotic Print Society in 1995, the Erotic Review has an illustrious place in magazine history. Taken over by Rowan Pelling in the late 90s, the editor transformed it into a lavishly illustrated bimonthly title featuring the words of writers such as Barry Humphries, Auberon Waugh and DBC Pierre.

After changing ownership several times, the magazine became online-only in 2010 and a descent into obscurity swiftly followed. But almost 30 years after the title first launched, the Erotic Review is back as a new art and literary journal exploring desire in its many forms and complexities.

At the helm of the relaunched title is editor and publisher Lucy Roeber and deputy editor Saskia Vogel, who actually interned at the magazine under Pelling. Studio Frith has also been involved since the outset of the project and is behind the creative direction and design of the first issue.

In many respects, it feels like an apt time for an erotic magazine that speaks to a more diverse audience, given the broader shifts in societal attitudes and the increasing prevalence of sex positive brands such as dating app Feeld.

In her first editor’s letter, Roeber writes: “We, at the Erotic Review, believe that our erotic lives inflect our entire existence. Desire is both intensely personal and can connect us to our common humanity … the idea of a different discourse, and its potential to transform who and how we could be in this world, has become the imagined centre of this project. We hope your experience here is deeply satisfying.”

Positioned as an object of desire, the magazine will showcase poetry, short fiction and book reviews from leading writers and new voices, as well as photography and an illustrated comic. Each issue will also feature a different guest curator, the first being Frieze sculpture park 2023 curator Fatoş Üstek.

Highlights from the first issue include an essay on the blossoming popularity of romance fiction, a photo sequence from the performance artist Esben Weile Kjaer celebrating the art of the kiss, and an explicit short story about a porn shoot from veteran contributor Michel Faber.

Desire is also at the heart of Studio Frith’s identity for the Erotic Review, which spans digital and print and includes a bespoke typeface, photographic commissions, the print magazine, website design, a set of animations, and social media assets.

“We believe that desire is at the foundation of almost all human behaviour. It is what drives our everyday actions and who we are. All culture is shaped by it. The idea of creating an object that is desirable in itself was important: a magazine that you are drawn to and want to pick up, a format that invites you to explore its pages, flaps, words,” says the studio’s founder, Frith Kerr.

The graphic language was developed from the concept of ‘give and take’, with a typeface and logotype that appear to inhale, absorb and release. Based on the idea that desire is fundamental to all creatures, the letters are designed to be abstract and fluid, coming to life on the printed page, the website and social. The typographic language has also been expanded into a set of illustrative emblems that become vessels for the title pages, as well as playing with headings and interrupting the text within the magazine.

Finally, the studio enlisted the help of photographer Polly Brown to bring the debut issue to life. Her cover image features a subtly suggestive photo of an egg placed in an open mouth, while full-bleed images inside the issue include a ketchup bottle placed between open legs and the residue of soapy water dripping from the wheel of a car.

“Desire runs through all of [Polly’s] work, in the way she playfully inspects the everyday,” says Kerr. “She manages to capture human mood in modernity and transforms the still into something living. Sex is life – and the egg is a cosmos of sorts.”

Erotic Review issue one is out now;