Albert magazine's analytical yet colourful design proves how “knowledge can also have sex appeal”
- Ruby Boddington
- 17 May 2019
Albert magazine is a publication released by the Einstein Foundation Berlin. Dedicated to, as you’d imagine, science, it aims to humanise the seemingly complicated and elite branch of knowledge, giving a face to those who work within it. Designer Fons Hickmann and art director Raúl Kokott (both of Fons Hickmann M23) collaborated on the conception and the design of the magazine, of which there are now four issues.
“I got approached by the Einstein Foundation about the possible ways of bringing their scientists into the public light,” Fons tells It’s Nice That. With a central problem of how it’s impossible to design science and how “knowledge can also have sex appeal,” Fons explains: “The most important question that we asked ourselves in the process was how we, figuratively speaking, could plant a couple of flowers or even a tree in the desert of science.”
The design of Albert, therefore is “analytical and downplayed, yet very colourful.” This is most evident on the publication’s covers, each of which features a bold, block background colour, a central image cropped on an angle at the top edge and a sans serif logotype aligned to this cropped edge. They are clean and contemporary looking, far-flung from the world of scientific and educational journals.
A key aspect of the publication’s visual language is the use of photography throughout each issue. Having dealt with the themes of mathematics, neuroscience and classical studies, with the most recent issue, titled “The New Departures”, focussing on the synergy of science in the future, Fons and Raúl had to establish a method of making the information accessible. “We put great value into photography as scientists should be portrayed as people similar to you and me,” Fons explains. “Our aim is to remove the chasm between science and the everyday world and show how deeply rooted science is in our lives.”
In true scientific fashion, each issue follows a few rules. Firstly, a diversity of imagery is key, Fons tells us. “Image research occupies a central role in the execution of the concept for every issue. This particular aspect is very interesting for us as it combines the role of a designer with that of a mediator and a translator. We come up with the suggestions regarding photographers, photo series and illustrators, but also work extensively with archive materials from various libraries in order to hold down the budget costs.”
Secondly, each issue is executed in a five-colour palette. “We choose a matching spot colour, which is first introduced on the cover and afterwards used repeatedly as an accent colour elsewhere in the magazine,” he continues. Further features include a large-scale photographic series, a lot of white space and a clear typographic composition aligned to a grid, but not one that makes itself too known. In turn, “you see a magazine that does not lose itself in the stiff language of scientific communication, but is colourful, multifaceted, highly sophisticated and of the utmost quality,” Fons concludes.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.