• 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

    Boasting PVC-clad bottoms, surreal jazz photography and beautifully-rendered risograph prints of basketball hoops, Shabazz Projects’ homepage certainly offers a well-curated and striking experience. The LA-based publishing platform was founded by Hassan Rahim and Brian Okarski, releasing art, photography and design-focused books and objects, all with a run of 200 or fewer editions. Stand-out pieces include the Various Basketball Hoops risographs, which put a whimsical spin on these often weary-looking monoliths; and Eric Wrenn and Antje Peters’ Jazz photographs, which place instruments against a dramatic plume of smoke. Hassan and Brian say their aim is to “provoke and surprise,” and from the images on their site alone, they’re certainly not letting themselves down.

  2. Hellotalja_kit-list-image

    Many a blue-sky-thinker and envelope-pusher has been extolling the virtues of meditation and mindfulness to pseudo-spiritually swell their business jargon lately. So it’s refreshing when a beautifully branded, creatively-minded product emerges that promises to offer that lucrative “pause from modern life.”

  3. List

    If all the magazines and small publications that used the internet as their subject matter were dumped on your head it’d be curtains for you – there’s bloody loads of them. Some, like Offscreen, deal with the people that make digital culture happen and try to bring these unsung heroes out from behind their screens into the RGB limelight, others, like French publication Nichons – Nous Dans l’Internet (Tits – We In The Internet) are more conceptually-minded, analysing and assessing the social and cultural phenomena brought about by the ubiquity of technology.

  4. Main

    Setting up a design studio and changing your name to a cool pseudonym is a good two-fingers-up to life on the quiet side. Parisian designer Julien Ducourthial decided to make this leap, and now overseas The Jazzist, offering bold, fluoro design work “serving in fields of graphic design, illustration and art direction in digital & printed media.” When Julien emailed us he told us he was inspired by 8-bit imagery and cartoons, which gave us an immediate inkling that we were going to like his work. Anyone looking to commission a great French designer any time soon? Julien is your man.

  5. List

    We haven’t featured Oslo-based studio Heydays on the site for a while but a quick check-in with their portfolio shows they’re still producing top-quality work for an eclectic range of clients. Nöra is a design house based between London and São Paulo which among other things supplied the seats for the World Cup stadia in Brazil. Heydays wanted a look and feel that felt “sophisticated with a stylish twist.” The pointillist type treatment pulls this off neatly and there’s some impressive animated elements you can see below as well. Keep up the great work team Heydays!

  6. List

    When it comes to a trendy commission, a restaurant in east London that serves everything on the bone is right up there. Credit is due then to Burgess Studio, whose identity for the eatery doesn’t take itself too seriously. Built around a nice typographic wordmark and the simple idea of making the all-important bone into a smile, the look and feel rolls out seamlessly across everything from bags to cups, menus to the website. It’s simple, it’s striking and it steers well clear of some kind of terrible hipster overload, all of which is to be very much commended.

  7. List

    It’s been a while since we last checked in with Stockholm-based Bedow studio but there’s a host of new work to enjoy over on their site as ever. I was particularly drawn to their ongoing collaboration with Essem Design, “a Swedish manufacturer of artisanal hallway interiors.” Bedow used a refreshingly straightforward way in to what might seem like rather a niche product, building an identity around the Swedish words for “hello” and “goodbye” – the utterances most commonly heard in a hallway.

  8. List

    Producing graphic collateral for one of the world’s largest international contemporary art fairs is a brief that would have some graphic design studios quaking in their boots, but when London-based Studio Frith was approached by Frieze Art Fair they accepted with relish.

  9. List

    “Churn out” always sounds like a derisive expression when referring to exceptional creative work, but the prolific nature of some studios means it’s the only one I like to use use to conjure up the relentless mechanical precision with which these studios proceed – and I definitely don’t mean it derisively. And so to Praline, the products of whose churning we’re here to admire.

  10. List

    For graphic design types, the opportunity to run wild with a printer’s various techniques is pretty much the dream brief, and Mexican agency Anagrama have well and truly lived that dream. They were one of seven agencies studios invited to create a notebook with Imprimerie du Marais, and they were given free rein to experiment with effects like hot foil stamping, microembossing, silk screening and sewn binding.

  11. List

    When David Mckendrick told us he was leaving Esquire and setting hop a new venture with Wallpaper* art director Lee Belcher, we were fascinated to see what the fruits of such a top-notch collaboration might look like. Last week we got our answer, when a copy of the new Christie’s magazine came dropping through our letterbox.

  12. List

    When you’re set a challenge by Google’s UXA design team, there’s the expectation for something pretty darn special to be created. Fortunately for Manual, they nailed their brief and created a smart, clean, eye-catching interpretation of Google’s visual language.

  13. List

    It’s a widely-acknowledged fact that Tony Brook and his Spin team can do no wrong – they just design cracking stuff. So imagine our surprise when… no, just kidding, their latest project’s a belter too. Commissioned by Sim Smith, a London-based gallery representing emerging British talent, Tony and his team went about producing a slick, simple, monochrome identity that’s as unfussy as the artists the gallery represents. The logo, website and print collateral are all pleasantly understated, meaning the Sim Smith name won’t ever get in the way of the most important thing – the artists’ work.