Through the magic of the interwebs, I came across this design magazine, Backstage, published by a design and branding studio, Milk Design Directors, in Europe. They were sold out of their first issue so I snagged their second one. I wanted to get a feel for what other design studios do when they produce a printed magazine.

First off, it is a unique size, though likely just different from North American standards, a perfect bind sized to 7.5" wide by 10.5" tall. when you think of it - should there be a digital version, this allows for the content to print within standard printer margins. The outside cover is laminated and the white bold type on the front is debossed which you can see on the inside front cover over an ad spread. Seems a risky step to imprint copy on an advertisement - but I do appreciate that they stepped out and broke a rule.

One significant design choice I have with the cover is the choice to use black over such a dark blue. There is next to no contrast and with the sheen of the laminate, it is exceptionally hard to read.

The publication has limited number of ads, but a visual inspection shows them to all have a certain design style that aligns with the magazine design theme.

Digging into the content, I can see how the typographic design style emphasizes content over visuals. You can flip through it and easily scan quotes and messages and decide if you want to read the fine print (copy). I think what they could have done was a more savvy inclusion of the few images they do have which are part of the articles. For me, it's a personal taste, but photos just sort of placed randomly and not integrated with the design is a miss.

The colour palette seemed on the blah side to me. I think on the screen the pages would have been vibrant, but when it came to press, the uncoated paper stock really absorbed the ink and seem to suck in all the light. Whether this is intentional by design or not, on a personal end, I prefer more pop.

A fun feature was the use of inserting a small booklet that featured a designers art. 


Overall, this magazine design seems to base itself on a trend. Clean simple copy, with limited integration. It feels like reading in a stop and start fashion and not much flow. What I am a fan of is the spirit of the studio. I really loved the handwritten note included with my purchase.