• Co1
  • Co2
  • Co3
  • Co4
  • Co5
  • Co6
  • Co7
  • Co8
Graphic Design

Luke Hayman: Cosmopolitan redesign

Posted by Rob Alderson,

The chance to redesign a wildly successful, established publication is one that most designers dream about. But with such a fantastic opportunity comes great pressure and a responsibility to the publishers and readers alike. All eyes were on the new Cosmopolitan when it hit the news-stands late last year, and we spoke to Pentagram’s Luke Hayman to find out what it’s like to work on such an anticipated, and scrutinised project…

Tell us about the project came about. What was the brief like? What did Cosmo want to achieve?

We were one of a number of people called in to meet Kate White, the editor-in-chief, Ann Kwong, the creative director and Abigail Green, the managing editor. It was a bit of a leap of faith on their part – we’ve done a lot of magazine redesigns but nothing quite like this before. But with every redesign we focus on finding the appropriate voice for the project rather than imposing a style.  

The brief: we were asked to rationalize the departments, look at reducing the number of sections and make the navigation elements clearer for readers. We had to freshen up the magazine, make it more contemporary and to make it fun to look at – both for browsing and reading.

And most interestingly we were asked to make it not look like a magazine. What they meant is that they wanted to move away from the rigid and formal three column justified text columns that they’d been using for many of their departments, columns and longer text-based stories.

Cosmo has such an established brand – what impact does that have on your ideas and the final designs?

Cosmo is a very established and hugely successful brand. But we realised it was the written voice, the spirit and story ideas that are the essential pieces rather than any particular fonts or graphic devices. So we worked on visually interpreting that particular tone.

When we came to it, the magazine had several different graphic looks across the different parts of the magazine. As often happens at magazines, new sections are added and they get developed on the fly. The new pages are often developed in isolation and start to stray from the original big picture.

Having said that it was also important that this magazine in particular not feel too formatted and rigid. So although we created a set of tools – fonts and graphic devices – they were applied  in quite a wide range of combinations but always with the same spirit to create an over all unity. There was a looseness built into the system.

What for you are the key features of the new-look magazine?

I think the fonts are always a core part of any magazine. We usually use a couple of families but for Cosmo we used four. The spirit needed to be young and lively so for text we used Parry which has chunky serifs, almost typewriter like. The sans we used is Helsinki which like Parry has a bold character across a lot of weights. We deliberately stayed away from overly-refined, pretty and elegant fonts.

The colour palette is bold, feminine but not too sweet and girly. And we added some graphic bars that have an irregular width – we called them chopsticks. There are wiggly rules and captions in thin bars and these were placed off the grid at angles all with the intention of feeling immediate, casual and spontaneous.

We also worked with photography director Liane Radel to evolve the photography. We wanted the spontaneity to come across with more aggressive cropping and a graphic pop sensibility.

How does a design process differ for a publication that has a relatively short shelf-life such as Cosmo?

This redesign embraces the fact that for a lot of the audience Cosmo is a quick read. These women have many other choices for spending their time so the editor was very clear about making the pages feel light and approachable.

We reduced text significantly on many pages and avoided long blocks of grey text. Display copy, sub heads, pull quotes, captions and web touts were deployed to provide multiple entry points.

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    Marcello Velho is one of a school of graphic artists subverting the forms of internet art that we’re becoming used to seeing, and doing something completely unanticipated with them. His abstract compositions are experimental and ambiguous, but that’s exactly what makes them exciting. He’s a pretty dab hand at design too, working on magazine covers, art directing features and just generally applying his magic touch wherever it’s needed. It’s only a matter of time until a global fashion brand with a wildly cool following happens upon his work and immediately has him applying his learned eye to look books, textile design and event invitations. Just for the record though, we got here first, yeah?

  2. List

    Behold! Dutch illustrator and designer Julian Sirre has a portfolio packed to the gunnels with beautiful futuristic design. His posters and prints take inspiration from 1980s sci-fi, Japanese printmaking and superhero comics, all amalgamated into a wholly unique visual language. He’s worked for Dutch science fiction magazines, London venues and a variety of extraordinary exhibitions including a group show with Jordy Van Den Niewendijk, Viktor Hachmang and Robin van Wijk – all exceptionally cool dudes.

  3. List

    Battersea Power Station is one of my favourite buildings in London (you can add that to the list of things-you-don’t-care-about-which-I-tell-you-anyway-in-these-posts if you like). Anyway this summer it’s hosting the Everyman Cinema and east London’s Bread Collective was brought in to create the branding and hand-paint all the on-site signage. Bread has previous experience when it comes to large scale design work that packs a personality-filled punch and it’s great to see them unleash their talents on such a famous landmark. The bright and lively visuals juxtapose neatly with their industrial surroundings and there’s a consistency that ties the site together without feeling sterile.

  4. List

    My favourite thing about Paris-based design studio Twice is that they continually combine texture and colour in such a way that I’m practically banging my hands into my computer screen with wanting to hold their publications in my hands. That’s the trouble with tactility – it’s not practical – but that shouldn’t mean designers abandon it altogether in favour of a wipe-clean, stark, sterile aesthetic that makes us lose all hope in print.

  5. List

    I was lucky enough to visit Istanbul for its inaugural design biennale back in 2012 and although I was blown away by its creative scene, I didn’t come across too much graphic design. Rummaging through Studio Sarp Sozdinler’s website this week, I had the nagging feeling that I might have missed out.

  6. List

    Belgian graphic designer Broos Stoffels has it all; great poster designs, great typefaces, great Dance Organ-powered drawing machine for the creation of custom vinyl sleeves – no really! The young designer is a former student of Sint Lucas in Ghent, a institution with proven design pedigree, and has spent the last few years honing his practical and conceptual skills into a fantastically coherent body of work.

  7. List

    If you aren’t familiar with The Casual Optimist blog about publishing and book culture then it’s well worth checking out (I’ll wait). Anyway last week its author shared these amazing posters created by the leading German graphic designer Gunter Rambow for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house back in the 1970s. What’s interesting is that some of them tiptoe right up to the edge of being gimmicky, but always stay the right side of the line thanks to Gunter’s unerring image-making brilliance. I really can’t get enough of these.

  8. List

    When a studio does everything it can to get to the very root of a client’s working philosophy, it often leads to the most interesting and effective identity design. This is definitely true of Toronto-based studio Blok Design’s work for Dallas film production company Lucky 21. Created to mark the company’s new venture – “taking on the highly competitive LA market” – the identity takes into account the brand’s character, which the studio describes as “full of humour and fiercely passionate” to create a set of visuals that fall close to home.

  9. List-2

    Illustrator and longtime mate of ours Michael Willis is straying away from illustration and into something altogether more design-focussed. The elements at the heart of his images are the same; placing retro and contemporary influences side-by-side to create something so contemporary that it feels ahead of its time. He’s been working recently with Mood NYC, providing photographic manipulation and graphic treatment for their look book as well as helping create an overarching aesthetic for the brand, one which evades the recurring trends and repetitive styles that seem to permeate many designers’ portfolios.

  10. List

    Three years ago Milan studio Leftloft were commissioned to help iconic Italian football club Inter Milan with a ticket sales push, but the relationship developed into something much more comprehensive. Here art director Francesco Cavalli tells us how they came to lead an extensive rebranding of the whole club, from a new crest and a bespoke serif typeface to an exhaustive style guide for use across print and digital.

  11. List

    As of 6.30pm last night Airbnb looks a little classier. Having spent the past seven years growing a vast community of country-hopping collaborators, the world’s largest online accommodation marketplace has decided it’s time for a change. Gone is the awkward, dated logo that still reminds me of a bad ice cream parlour, likewise the cold, clinical blue that serves as the accent colour for all San Franciscan startups; and in its place is something entirely more exciting.

  12. List

    Massimo Vignelli was one of the most important graphic designers of his generation and his death in May affected the creative community very strongly and very immediately. The tributes poured in (some of which we included in our piece here) but for some the response to his passing would take a little longer to formulate. So it was with Colorado-based studio Berger & Föhr, who began this set of tribute posters when they first learned of his illness.

  13. List

    In our first feature on Shillington College we looked at why its founder was compelled to create a new kind of graphic design education to better prepare graduates for the working world. But how does the college pursue this aim in practical everyday terms, achieving what can take several years into other institutions in a matter of mere months? To find out we asked the people who make it happen– the teachers themselves. So we quizzed US director Holly Karlsson, Melbourne lecturer Carlos Chavez, Manchester lecturer Jeffrey Bowman and senior London lecturer Corrie Anderson. Here’s what they had to say…