It’s difficult not to get excited about Material Magazine’s latest issue when it includes Nadine Ijewere, Hedvig Jenning and Osma Harvilahti among its list of featured artists. Characterised by its commitment to female-identifying individuals, Material cuts across disciplines like design, art, fashion, film and architecture to delve deep into and dissect a prevalent social issue. “The magazine seeks to unite bold visuals with an honest, no-bullshit approach to talking about women in creative fields. Even though we operate from Berlin and Vienna, we continue to collaborate with an ever-growing network of renowned international teams,” Kira Stachowitsch, the head of Material’s creative direction and strategy, tells It’s Nice That.
The incentive behind Material was the state of fashion journalism. The fashion industry is often reduced to a luxury sphere for the privileged few, yet representation in campaigns, magazines and on catwalks can shape individual opinions and mould collective outlooks. “It is very important for us to understand fashion as a form of communication, it helps us to express ideas and talk about the world around us. But it is crucial to not fetishise fashion nor fall back into outdated and misogynic narratives that are so often reproduced in lifestyle media. There is so much marketing happening around the female identity, it’s important to own our stories and also acknowledge the responsibility that comes with being able to give visibility and provide a platform,” Kira explains. This thoughtful approach is particularly evident in the way Material selects the artist it covers and commissions; the publication places equal value on intriguing character studies and compelling contextual stories as it does on aesthetics.
Material’s latest issue explores the word “trans” through a number of different meanings; transgender, transformation, transplantation, transition, transmission and transparency. “We wanted to capture the notion of being in-between, might that be in between places, definitions or identities. Transformation is a big part of our lives and a unifying experience,” Kira says. Transplantation, for example, is explored through the challenges that come with moving from one culture into an entirely different context. An interview with stylist Djamila Imani shines a light on the difficulty of living as an African woman in France, and notes that the distinct racial and cultural differences have played a formative role in the ways in which she perceives herself. Another section looks at transformation through the eyes of four veteran drag queens who host weekly performances in one of San Francisco’s more marginalised neighbourhoods.Particularly striking is Material’s considered composition, which strikes the fine balance between understated simplicity and forceful typefaces. Bold headlines differentiate one section from another, while vivid colour changes are carefully selected to harmonise with the magazine’s content. Kira says: “There is a certain volume in which simplicity can speak once you tweak the sizing. We go for classical elements that develop a certain uneasiness, something to break the innocence. The most important thing is to complement and not outshine the personalities we portray through design. This issue plays with strong colours too, it’s funny what a radical thing a bright red page can be these days.”
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