• 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. Lundgrenlindqvist-hbtqrethink-itsnicethat-list

    Icon magazine’s Rethink feature – which challenges studios to redesign a well-known identity or industry – has long been a source of innovation and inspiration. In the past we’ve covered Design by St’s fish packaging, Manual’s new US road signage and Studio Makgill’s funeral parlours.

  2. Studiobaer-thomaslohr-itsnicethat-list

    When Studio Baer’s gorgeous book of Thomas Lohr’s plumage photographs arrived in the studio last week, I waxed lyrical about its Japanese paper cover, which felt unlike anything I have ever had the good fortune to stroke before. Add in the subtle, debossed title and I was in publication heaven, but the rest of the editorial team wasn’t so sure –“like weird rubber/reminds me of fingernails down a blackboard/gives me goose pimples” those philistines mewled.

  3. Groszcolab_ascuiandco_itsnicethat_list

    The power of colour and its ability to influence our visual language is fascinating. Using colours to signal change and progression is Australian studio Grosz Co. Lab and their identity for architecture firm Ascui & Co. Architect.

  4. Sea-aiap-fedrigoni-madeinitaly-itsnicethat-list

    Europe has a fine graphic design tradition but certain countries – Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the UK – tend to predominate when it comes to coverage. And so we’re always keen to hear about initiatives that celebrate lesser known design scenes, such as SEA and Fedrigoni’s upcoming exploration of Italy’s graphics heritage. Made In Italy showcases post-war Italian graphic design by way of a show in east London and a series of monographs focussing on some of the most interesting practitioners – Ilio Negri, Heinz Waibl, Franco Grignani and Giancarlo Iliprandi. With amazing access to the Aiap archives in Milan, SEA has also put together a book for the show with the explicit aim of putting this “untapped” subject firmly in the spotlight.

  5. Eddie-opara-pentagram-frida-kaho-its-nice-that-list

    While there’s no shortage of Pentagram projects on It’s Nice That, a partner whose work we don’t show too often is Eddie Opara. We’re not sure why, but remedying that we bring you this lovely project from Eddie and his team in the form of the catalogue for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Mexican Modern Art. Showing the famously monobrowed mistress of 20th Century painting and her husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera and letting the imagery speak for itself, the design is simple, strong and confident, using a bright blue for the book’s spine inspired by Casa Azul, the couple’s home in Mexico City. Elsewhere the palette draws on the colours of Mexican folk art, while the striking large portraits on the front and back covers look to “position the pair as icons,” according to Pentagram. The catalogue accompanies an exhibition entitled Kahlo, Rivera and Mexican Modern Art, currently on show at the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale.

  6. 5173

    As the creative world digests last night’s big D&AD winners (those that scooped Black and White Pencils), there was a host of interesting work recognised in the 44 Yellow Pencils given out at the London awards bash. In total, the D&AD juries considered 847 projects this year and so less than one in 20 made the prestigious Yellow Pencil cut. Here’s our rundown of those winners that caught our eye for one reason or another – you can see the full list of winners over on the D&AD site here.

  7. The-plant-art-15-its-nice-that-list-

    Staying two seasons ahead (calendar-wise, at least) of the autumn art fair scrum, Art 15 takes place this week over in west London, heralded by some unmissably bright new branding by The Plant. The annual fair – now in its third outing – used to take place in February, and its new look aims to reflect its sunnier spot on the calendar. “As it’s spring and it’s a fairly new fair, we felt [the new identity] needed to look quite bold,” says Matt Utber, founder of The Plant, who also designed the fair’s initial identity. “We chose colours that were very bright and vibrant because of that light change – it reflects new life, flowers bursting into existence, it’s that kind of feel.”

  8. Thomaswilliams-bolo-itsnicethat-list

    Australian designer Thomas Williams’ work has appeared on the site several times over the years, in the shape of his editorial work for MADE, Nourished Journal and The Process Journal. He has recently decamped to Los Angeles and set up his own studio, Thomas Williams & Co., which comes complete with a newly updated site on which you can peruse his publication work alongside all manner of considered and communicative identity projects.

  9. Chwast_nose_08-1020x1600its-nice-that-list

    I don’t use the word “iconic” lightly, but in the case of designer Seymour Chwast, it fits. Co-founder of Push Pin studios, Seymour shaped what graphic design and being a graphic designer meant in the 20th Century, creating images that not only looked incredible, but distilled a message that could be anything from a light-hearted comment on design itself to an anti-smoking poster. His much-imitated graphic and illustration style still holds up brilliantly today, as proved by a fantastic new online resource, the Seymour Chwast archive.

  10. List-naonori_yago_laforet_itsnicethat_1

    I’m all for a bargain but when I hear about people queuing up at 4:30am for the big Next sale every year I can’t help but sigh. Surely sleeping is more preferable to numb lips chapping in the wind as you stand next to other haggard shoppers? Even bigger than Next’s sale is Japanese department store Laforet HARAJUKU’s annual “Grand Bazar,” which has taken sale shopping to a new level.

  11. Ah_ha_ciclovia_de_aveiro_it's_nice_that_list

    “Studio AH-HA started as an experiment. We never took ourselves too seriously, and we think that is why things have been working out,” say Carolina Cantante and Catarina Carreiras. For the last three years the Portuguese designers have been making lovely things out of their studio just a stone’s throw from the Lisbon City Museum and the university where they studied and met. Between them, Carolina and Catarina cut their teeth working with some of their heroes; Catarina at Fabrica with designer Sam Baron, who they still collaborate with, and Carolina at the renowned OMA led by “starchitect” Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam.

  12. List-vasundhara-pachisia-its-nice-that

    Brookyln-born graphic designer Vasundhara Pachisia is still studying, but has managed to clock up a CV including work with MoMA Design Studio and Ralph Applebaum Associates. Not bad at all. She’s currently studying at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where she’s making some great work combining vivid colour palettes with some gorgeous experimental typography. This is perfectly exemplified in the piece Until Perfect Comes , a typeface the designer says is “an ode to Victor Vasarely.” We’re sure the “grandfather of op-art” wouldn’t be disappointed.

  13. Antonio_ladrillo_lines_it's_nice_that_list

    Back with a colourful series of minimal, origami-like creations, Antonio Ladrillo’s Colors, Lines and Dots continues the same optimism and sense of play that has made the Barcelona-based illustrator is an It’s Nice That favourite. You may remember our enthusiasm for his exhibition of 40 small paintings on repurposed wood, Crash or his book Being a ghost is cool! The three new softcover books are designed with the same cuts, folds and palette but use different patterns, taking on multiple 2D and 3D combinations like folding cards. Part papercraft, part publication, like all of Antonio’s sunny portfolio, Colors, Lines and Dots is simple yet striking.