• 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-0102-0103-0105-triptych-%c2%a9-david-shaw

    When the Design Museum planned its Women Fashion Power show, which opened last month, it was very much keen to take the “women” component seriously, appointing them to take care of both the exhibition design and graphics for the show. As such, it drafted perhaps one of the most famous women in design’s practices, Zaha Hadid Architects for the exhibition design; with Lucienne Roberts and her team (Dave Shaw and John McGill) at LucienneRoberts+ creating the graphics.

  2. List

    Based in Manheim, Germany, Deutsche & Japaner have a really great sense of what looks good. They have been on the site a couple of times for their stylish graphic design but this work for the Aesthetics Habitat project shows off a bit more of their own personality. The site is described as “a venture all about meeting objects with a personal interpretation, transforming its function and creating narratives” and in essence its curators invite creatives to respond to and reflect on their relationship with a favourite thing of beauty.

  3. List-flyers-for-the-institute-at-sexology.-photography-by-russell-dornan_-design-by-liam-relph-(3)

    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

  4. List

    Brimming with sophistication and an understanding of what makes great design, Atelier Tout va bien’s portfolio is a glorious way to scroll away the day. The studio is made up of French design duo Anna Chevance and Mathias Reynoird, and it’s the pair’s editorial, poster and book design that really stands out.

  5. List

    The It’s Nice That team recently discussed which discipline we cover on the site would we most like to be brilliant at (it’s the kind of thing we do to wile away the final, dragging hours of these dark winter afternoons). After the appropriate amount of consideration (charts, cost/benefit analysis and the like) I plumped for book cover design and that led me down a little book-design-reminiscence and that led me back to Linda Huang.

  6. List

    Another day, another well-crafted, interesting identity for a topic that isn’t perhaps the most instantly exciting. This time, bringing us issues like “sustainable urban energy planning” and “urban transitions management” (we admit we’re not too sure what this means), is this identity for Sustain, by Filimonas Triantafyllou. Sustain is an academic platform to host discussions between different universities in Europe and Asia about their research into sustainability issues, and it’s refreshing to see Netherlands-based graphic designer Filimonas take such a pared-back, colourful approach to the subject matter. The graphical treatment uses different typographic word-marks for each of the topics being addressed, with each symbol reducing these rather complex issues into a simple motif.

  7. List

    Eschewing the usual white-paged minimalism, Berlin gallery Neumeister Bar-Am boasts a charming identity inspired by all things postage. The gallery is housed in an old Post Office space, and Slovenia-born, Berlin-based designer Neven Cvijanovic chose to look to its former home in designing the identity, using a colour scheme referencing that of the Deutsche Post. The flexible identity system uses icons that recall mail stamps that adapt to each show for use on invites; while other collateral like stationery and business cards are more pared-back. It’s great how the theme is subtle, yet direct – especially in little touches like the yellow tape.

  8. List-dunnamed

    Australian consultancy Sense designed the identity for this year’s Czech & Slovak film festival, which took place in Melbourne and Sydney, creating a look look inspired by the gorgeous hand-printed Czech film posters of the past. The festival was themed around the idea of “resistance”, as a nod to 2014 being the 25th anniversary of the non-violent “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia – a series of peaceful demonstrations against the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia that worked to end 41 years of Communist rule in the country.

  9. List

    If last week on the site was dominated by terrific Norwegian graphic design, then this week it’s the turn of Finland, and more specifically Kokoro & Moi to step into the spotlight. Teemu Suviala and Antti Hinkula’s studio has been going for 13 years now, and it’s always exciting to get wind of new updates on their site.

  10. List

    No matter how long it is since you left school, Monday morning can still bring back that sense of academic-induced dread. The Exercise Book by South London design agency Calm & Collected may well inspire similar reminiscence but all being well it’ll be of the warmly nostalgic kind rather than the “haven’t-done-my-homework-forgotten-my-PE-kit” pit of the stomach variety. The publication accompanied the group’s recent show LEARN and features hand-drawn graphics inspired by education across black and white, colour and risoograph pages.

  11. List

    Whenever we come across graphic design that features non-Latin script we are always aware of the immediate appeal that comes from these letterforms that are so different to our own. In this case though it’s hard to get round that, because Eric Hu’s A Thousand Characters is a very definite and deliberate celebration of these beautiful alien forms. It is comprised of 1,000 unique illustrations of each letter in a classical Chinese poem that has 1,000 non-repeating characters. “These were drawn with my mouse using a dynamic drawing application I had programmed in Processing then manipulated further in Photoshop,” Eric explains.

  12. List-2.-sign_sympton

    While certainly an innovative and useful tool, tech-based health tracking isn’t, perhaps, the most exciting concept. So it’s great to see the look and feel of a new health and technology platform use such playful, bold design cues. The Beautiful Meme has worked with illustrator Tal Brosh on this great look for Health Tech & You, a joint initiative between the Design Museum and AXA PPP, which looks at new breakthroughs in technology that tracks and monitors health.

  13. List

    A cute little one-eyed book reading a cute little two-eyed book greets us on the site of designer and illustrator Julia Boehme, offering an irresistible invitation to delve into her portfolio, which perhaps unsurprisingly, leans toward all things bookish. The wee anthropomorphised tomes also star alongside pretty girls reading books in some great work for Hungarian University of Fine Arts, for which she’s produced a small brochure explaining the four arts libraries in Budapest. Cuteness is very much the order of the day throughout her work, but she manages to stay just the right side of sickly. We love the simple, tongue-in-cheek Wes Anderson aesthetic of the Year Book project from 2011, which acts as another excuse for us to post some ludicrous, large-specs-based portrait photography.