London-based studio Kellenberger-White has redesigned arts and culture magazine, Elephant, complete with a new logo, page design and paper stock. Launching 6 October, the new identity marks a new chapter in Elephant’s life with a new website also having launched (2 October) to coincide with the updated aesthetic. “We saw it as an opportunity to rethink almost every element of the magazine, from the paper stock to the elephant mark itself, who looks decidedly more youthful and informal these days,” explains deputy editor Emily Steer.
“Our initial brief asked for something raw and playful that would showcase the writing and art within the magazine,” Emily continues. “We aren’t fans of art jargon or academic writing; we want to appeal to those who have a lifelong knowledge of art and visual culture, but also those who are interested in many aspects of design and culture and are intrigued to know more.” To convey this playful tone, the team brought in Kellenberger-White, a studio which has worked with the V&A, Tate, Barbican and Hauser & Wirth on various arts-based projects.
Taking over from Astrid Stavro’s studio Atlas as art director, the Elephant team liked Kellenberger-White’s hands-on approach. “We like its lateral thinking when it comes to design decisions and the studio’s boldness in making changes,” says Emily. “They really have imagined a new identity for us that feels unexpected and completely exciting.”
For inspiration, Kellenberger-White took a trip to Whipsnade Zoo and spent a day learning from the Asian elephants that live there. “We watched how they moved, how they behaved together, how they use their trunks as a tool. Naughty elephants squirt water – not only a mnemonic perhaps. We took this as a suggestion for approaching Elephant magazine’s new graphic identity. Later that day, on a building site near our studio in east London, we tried to create letterforms by squirting water on the ground,” explains the studio.
After experimenting, the studio then wanted to make a connection to the language of print. “Screenprinting requires hosed water to clean down used screens. Working with Coriander Studios in west London, we made letterforms that are bold and raw, shaped by force and chance. We brought the zoo into the studio,” says Kellenberger-White.
This approach is a more literal reading of the magazine’s title that has rarely been embraced before and inside the magazine a dynamic and flexible process has been adopted. “We wanted to design a magazine that wants to be read, generous with type, lots of white space while at the same time prioritising the images,” says the studio. “The typeface we have used is called Agipo, and was designed by Radim Pesko, a London-based type designer whose work we love, and whose foundry develops fonts that feel playful and human.”
Agipo offers two stylistic sets and the sets contain alternative characters and punctuation, “gently colouring text like a regional accent”, and the studio hopes to “apply these accents from issue to issue”. The features developed across the past eight years still reside in the magazine with the new identity being woven into existing and familiar pieces.
As for the website many these design decisions have been reflected in the new website, which went live at the beginning of Frieze week in London. “It’s a much more complex site, with an improved focus on images within each article and many more features that will bring readers into the world of the artist,” explains Emily.
Issue 32 of Elephant launches with a cover by photographer Eva O’Leary and takes the idea of perfection as its research subject, speaking to Eva and many other artists about the hooks and pitfalls of perfection.
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