Meet feeeels, a new publication examining the margins between the material world and its immaterial representations. Founded by Angela Lorenzo, Drew Litowitz, Lauren Traugott-Campbell and Sarah Mohammadi, the four graphic designers first met on RISD’s graduate graphic design programme. Before that, however, the four creatives had careers outside the design industry, a useful quality that came in handy when it came to informing the debut issue’s diverse content.
Despite coming from a range of different backgrounds, it was at RISD where the group found a mutual passion for iterative, community-based learning. A way of learning fully celebrated in graduate courses in particular.
After graduating, the four magazine founders went their separate ways for a while, but it wasn’t long until they each felt the urge to “recreate that studio-like atmosphere for themselves.” Sarah tells It’s Nice That: “We felt ourselves slipping into a binary approach to design, where others would simply comment on our work rather than engage and converse in the underlying themes and ideas.” They yearned for something that bridged the gap between thematic conversation and proactive pragmatism, somewhere that brought together a range of different responses all in one place. And just like that, feeeels was born.
“As multi-disciplinary designers,” explains Angela, “we wanted a means to address how concepts of tactility have been affected by our increasingly digital world. Although touch is just one of five human sensations, we feel that it is the most powerfully intimate, relying on physical proximity in ways that are completely at odds with our current digital culture.”
With this in mind, the designers were curious to know how a tactile adjective like “fuzziness” would inform the notions of materiality and immateriality. The term fuzzy, for instance, has both a physical and metaphorical significance. It can be used in a broad spectrum of topics and issues, and so, the founders felt it would be an apt theme for feeeels’ debut issue.
Galleryfeeeels: Issue one
Drawing out the associations between fuzziness as a tactile metaphor as well as a nebulous concept, the publication delves into a wide range of think pieces, thoughtfully curated to maximise on the topics at hand. “We wanted the design process to reflect a collective framework,” says Drew on the collaborative process. Instead of implementing a fixed grid system, the designers were interested in how the group’s individual aesthetic preferences could bring about surprising outcomes. Deliberately steering away from current visual trends, the first issue was passed around each designer in equal measure. Each creative applied a distinct touch to the pages, embracing openness as a way to create something wholly unexpected.
Lauren adds on the matter: “It was certainly not the most efficient way of working, but rather a way to break old habits, to push each other creatively and to question the status quo of design-thinking.” To coincide with the inaugural launch feeeels, the founders set out to create a custom typeface responding to said theme. For fuzzy, they brought Jack Halten Fahnestock on board to design their first font; an extremely fuzzy typeface. The bespoke twist became a highlight for the designers, something they’ll certainly look forward to continuing in future issues.
Elsewhere, the group cites another highlight as the “community we created throughout this process.” Working with a total of 49 people, Sarah, Angela, Drew and Lauren gained a number of useful skills throughout the publication’s production. From conversing with contributors, seeking advice on independent publishing, to creating a line of merchandise to run alongside the mag, “every stage of the process was a new way for us to expand our community,” adds Sarah. Among the dedicated 49 people that helped shape this first issue, the founders credit their friends, family “and a lot of patience” for making feeeels happen.
Providing its readers with the chance to deeply consider the physical, feeeels hopes to inspire confidence in our experiences through tactility. “We want to offer our audience a space devoid of avatars and virtual interactions to explore, to question and to make sense of this moment,” the founders finally go on to say. “We want people to feel excited and warm when they read through this magazine; to see the human and emotional side of creativity and passion at work.”