Wallpaper* Is Ten

Wallpaper* has thrown everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the cover of the magazine’s tenth anniversary issue, out today. The result is a cornucopia of print finishing.


Wallpaper* has thrown everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the cover of the magazine’s tenth anniversary issue, out today. The result is a cornucopia of print finishing.

We spotted, all on the same cover remember, kiss-cutting, die-cutting, gloss UV varnish, high-build UV varnish and a fluoro (if you can spot anything else, please let us know). The gloss UV runs across the cover except for the logo, dateline and pricing information at the top. Here, the black Wallpaper* logo is picked out in high-build UV: a subscriber-only issue has a white logo.

The kiss-cutting picks out the dates 1996 and 2006, except for the 1 in 1996 and the first 0 in 2006, which are die-cut to reveal the orange fluoro on page 3. Thus, the magazine indicates that it is 10 years old.

To use as delicate a finish as kiss-cutting, where the surface of the paper is cut into but the tool doesn’t penetrate all the way through the sheet, is a commendably brave decision for a mass-circulation magazine. Quite how the issues will stand up to the rampaging hordes on the newsstand remains to be seen – we predict a high casualty rate – but at a time when editorial designers are crying out for magazines to break free from formulaic covers, it is wonderful to see such a high-profile title go for this cover on what must be, in commercial terms, a very important issue.

As such, the issue represents a triumph for Wallpaper* creative director, Tony Chambers. When the ex-GQ man joined Wallpaper* in January 2003, the future health of the magazine was not something to be taken for granted. Its founder, Tyler Brûlé, had departed, along with other senior staff and there was a sense that the title’s moment in the sun had passed.

Chambers, along with editor-in-chief, Jeremy Langmead, reinvigorated the magazine. In a thoroughgoing redesign, he brought in Matthew Carter to draw an italic version of typeface Big Caslon, with swash capitals and 100 elaborate ligatures to use on features. Out went all those endless images of pretty boy Swedes that had become such a cliché as to be almost self-parodic. In came a commitment to great photography. Chambers’ inspired decision to ask photographers well-known in one field to tackle something new to them ensured that Wallpaper* became home to an array of surprising and beautiful imagery. In the very first issue of the redesign, as a marker for what was to come, Chambers asked art photographer Larry Sultan to shoot a furniture story and still-life specialist Toby McFarlan Pond to tackle a travel assignment: he also published a 20 page travelogue from Helmut Newton’s archives.

The birthday issue carries on that tradition with a series of “Power Couple” portraits by Tina Barney, Stephen Shore, Sultan again and Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. Wallpaper* has also given a chance to talented young photographers such as Dan Tobin Smith (who shot CR’s November 05 and September 06 covers).

In order to survive, print magazines must exploit the qualities that give them an advantage over online publishing – tactility, reproduction quality and the pleasure that comes from owning a beautiful object. At 472 pages (not including a rather neat fold-out timeline poster) the tenth birthday issue of Wallpaper* is a ringing endorsement of this approach and the value of great design and art direction.

PS This just in: we did miss something, the black is not just any old black – it’s a high density one. All print done by St Ives, who also print CR
And here’s what Borders have done in the window


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