N-E takes a highly conceptual approach to its redesign of Odda magazine

The Madrid-based studio talks us through its considered use of typefaces and selection of colours for the biannual fashion and culture publication.

Date
11 January 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

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The past year has posed many challenges for the creative industry, and the workflow of Madrid-based design studio N-E was no exception. “Change is part of our DNA and our work philosophy,” says owner and creative director Miguel Naranjo, who states how, despite the obvious hurdles, himself and the team have always been optimistic. “We have reinvented ourselves more than ever without affecting our essence, and the challenge has made us reflect on our needs and priorities.”

Looking on the brighter side of things, these past 12 months have indeed given N-E a sense of hope for the future. “We feel really lucky,” he continues, noting how the team has been working “tirelessly” all throughout the year in order to complete a variety of different projects. “Sometimes, the worst situations can turn into opportunities.”

A recent endeavour that took form over the past year is a redesign of Odda magazine, a biannual fashion and culture publication based in New York, founded by creative director and editor David Martin. Commencing at the end of February last year, the N-E team proceeded with a nicely open brief from the magazine’s team. From this, the studio worked collaboratively and was able to determine their needs, objectives and challenges – a necessary move that meant they could accurately hit the mark when it came down to client satisfaction.

As for the magazine itself, the title Odda comes from the Greek work for ‘ode’. By definition, an ode is a lyrical composition that generally praises something or someone. “In Ancient Greece where it originates,” says Miguel, “choral odes were very successful and they were destined to be sung or recited by two or three voices. The interview, the conversation between different voices, is the most predominant text of the magazine.” Because of this conceptually driven ethos, N-E embarked on an allegorical quest and proposed three separate type treatments that “speak together” in each part of the magazine.

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N-E Studio: Odda magazine No.19 (Copyright © N-E Studio, 2020)

This includes three typefaces – Baskerville, Akzidenz Grotesk and Our B Std – a conscious decision made so that the magazine itself has flair and personality running throughout, giving each section its own unique voice and flow. “We wanted to propose fonts that allow us to obtain a timeless design for Odda magazine,” says Miguel. Studying lyrical compositions, the team analysed and sought to “recreate this moment” throughout the publication. This came hand-in-hand with additional influences, including the book Ode to Typography by Pablo Neruda, used to pay tribute to typography in a more traditional and visual sense, “highlighting its shapes, its purity and its beauty”.

Following these pointers and through working with a set of three typefaces, the redesign grew around a 12-column grid system, allowing the studio to compose all of the information and content with infinite possibilities. What’s more, it could imitate the movement and rhythm of these lyrical compositions discovered in its research. “Although the magazine has almost 450 pages,” says Miguel, “the design of each one of them is done with a manual layout system that makes it unique.” Such a move is achieved through playing with the text, image and style of the section together with paying extra attention to the finer details along the way.

Within Odda, expect to find stories that focus on humanity – we have Stevie Wonder and his son Kailand Morris in conversation with Timothée Chalamet, plus covers from David LaChapelle of the Wonder family. Additionally, Josh O’Connor converses with Frances Lee, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Alicia Keys about the topic of female empowerment. As you can tell, Odda is very much rooted in human discussion and compassion, and the design direction needed to reflect that. Colour played a key part in this, according to Miguel. “Although text and image are treated in the same hierarchy, the use of colour is not arbitrary,” he says. “Green symbolises hope, optimism and rebirth. On the other hand, pink conveys love, kindness or protection. All these concepts are linked to the theme of this issue, the union in a context as exceptional as the one we have experienced during 2020.”

GalleryN-E Studio: Odda magazine No.19. (Copyright © N-E Studio, 2020)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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