Studio Yukiko’s long-running collaboration with Flaneur Magazine has always been a match made in heaven. The publication’s unique approach to telling the stories of cities – through localised explorations of a single street at a time – combined with Studio Yukiko’s expansive, experimental designs, has always resulted in beautiful, engrossing work. For example, the eighth issue from 2019 travelled to the Kangding / Wanda Road in Taipei and received an award-winning typographic treatment courtesy of Yukiko.
Now, for its ninth issue, Flaneur has focused on the Boulevard Périphérique, an eight-lane ring road located on the outskirts of Paris. Importantly, Flaneur’s editorial team were intent on not falling into well-trodden tropes when representing the city, says the magazine’s co-founder and co-editor in chief Fabian Saul. “After an initial research on site, the Boulevard Périphérique seemed a suitable starting point to reveal the military, controlling geometry of the city, but also to talk about the imagination of Paris beyond the centre,” Fabian continues. Such a focus led down many interesting avenues, but the overall function of the specific location was to show “the concept of the beautiful boulevard that hides its function to divide, control and essentially build a city for the capital through measures of beautification”.
After many conversations with the editorial team and Studio Yukiko, the design direction became clear. Zooming in on one specific function of the Boulevard Périphérique – its 24/7 car usage – the team began discussing the relevance of pollution in all its many forms: air pollution, light pollution, sound pollution. “Much of the architecture applied later are ways to deal with the pollution. Green spots, sound barriers, covering parts up or designed to fortify this boundary,” says Michelle Phillips, co-founder and creative director of Yukiko. “Pollution felt like something we couldn’t ignore.”
Taking the theme quite literally, Yukiko decided to “pollute the pages” of the publication, explains art director Sébastien Millot. They did so by choosing murky colours and bringing “debris” of conversation together, amongst other choices. “Even the transparency of the thin paper choice plays a polluting role, letting content from one page leave a trace on the next,” Sebastian says. “It’s nearly impenetrable, much like the highway itself.” Moreover, to account for the rich cultural backgrounds that the street surrounds, Yukiko created a variety of bespoke headlines to mirror “the plurality of voices and communities neighbouring”. The only graphic consistency is the use of neon orange, primarily used in typographic elements, referencing the light between green and red in traffic lights, and expressing the idea that the Boulevard Périphérique is a place of “transit and transience”.
Throughout the magazine, you’ll find four photography essays – each approached with entirely unique curation and layering. Readers encounter the architectural photography of Matthieu Gafsou, then Alassan Diawara’s intertwined street portraits of people and liminal spaces. Michelle also highlights Melek Zertal’s illustrated comic about Plume Banlieue, a local self-organised news organisation working with young people from the suburbs to tell stories about their environment. “Melek comes from the same neighbourhood as some of the protagonists so it was a beautiful fit,” Michelle says.
For the magazine’s co-founder and co-editor in chief Grashina Gabelmann, one of the defining features of the ninth issue was its collaborative nature. Working for the first time with four curating editors – Justinien Tribillon, Heryte T. Tequame, Anabelle Lacroix and Alix Hugonnier – was a perfect opportunity to “decentralise our magazine-making process even further,” including exchanges, collaborative research, site-specific workshops and curated contributions. Fabian ends by detailing how well the design elements complement the publication content and aims. “I think this issue is an extraordinary example of design drawing from the concrete, architectural realities and bringing the content back to that space,” he says. “It shows the density, the complexity and the sometimes-overwhelming feeling of being confronted with a place that seems insurmountable.”
Cover Photograph: Alassan Diawara (Copyright © Studio Yukiko & Flaneur)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.