The Sounder

A little bit of history for you – the term ‘magazine’ first arrived as a description for printed publications back in 1731 with the launch of Gentlemen’s Magazine in London from one Edward Cave. Previously the word, a version of the Arabic term for a storehouse, had been used to describe actual and metaphorical hoards of treasure and, in a literary sense, books containing lots of useful information for sailors, travellers and so on. In using the word, Cave was trying to express the richness, variety and bounty of new periodicals.

Today magazines, particularly independent ones covering various niches, are nuanced, challenging, offering varied and insightful perspectives all helping us to understand the world we live in – much as Cave intended all those years ago. So here, in no particular order, are The Sounders 9 current favourite indy mags everyone should read. – RS

1. THE TRAVEL ALMANAC There’s a huge appetite for travel magazines – in no small part because who wouldn’t want to make one. From Flaneur to Lost to Drift most embody what might be called post-tourism. That is travel as experience, as genre, as local, as design, as far more than a hotel and a beach. One of the first and best to do this was The Travel Almanac, started in 2010 from New York and Berlin. It’s known for its elegant and minimal design, is packed with considered and very literary travel writing with images and ideas that really evoke a sense of the feeling of a destination. The current issue, TTA12, has an imprint of four different covers and features conversations and contributions with Taryn Simon, Whit Stillman, Anna Cleveland, Dev Hynes and more as well as a beautiful New York Special.

2. THE GOURMAND Husband and wife team David Lane and Marina Tweed’s biannual food and culture journal was founded in 2011 and it’s been going strong ever since. We love it for its inspirational words, images, illustration all about food and drink – it’s pretty much a foodie work of art in that it always looks good enough to eat. If you like food you need The Gourmand.

3. DELAYED GRATIFICATION DG is all about slow journalism. If you’re tired of news delivered to your smartphone screen as short paragraphs, click-bait and eye-catching headlines to be devoured in seconds without much thought then Delayed Gratification is for you. Slow journalism, and DG’s, approach is careful and considered, thoroughly fact-checked and properly researched. Each issue covers what’s been going in the world three months before so the big news stories are tackled with the benefit of hindsight and all the facts as they’ve happened. So you’ll read long form journalism combined with data-driven and cleverly conceived infographics that add deeply insightful knowledge to what’s been going on in the world. It’s a fantastic read and will improve your level of dinner conversation no end. Head’s up – in next month’s Sounder look out for an interview with the DG team on how they put the magazine together.

4. JOURNAL SAFAR It doesn’t come out often (once a year for now) but when it does it’s highly anticipated. Journal Safar describes itself as ‘Beirut’s graphic design and visual culture journal’ and is the product of hipster Beirut-based design firm, Studio Safar, headed by Editor-in-Chief Hatem Imam and Creative Director Maya Moumne. Not only is the journal a thing of beauty – as you’d expect from designers – it’s also filled with some incredible and thought provoking content. From a layout point of view, it solves the ever difficult problem of combining two languages, English and Arabic, via a system that allows seamless reading from both right-to-left and left-to-right, the words printed within the fold in single columns on inserted paper so as not to get in the way of full page illustration and photography. The current and third issue, Obsessions, has an eye catching cover that’s spread over the front and traditional back, and includes original poetry from writer and musician Alexei Perry Cox illustrated by John Blezard, and an essay considering the design of the new biometric Lebanese passport and its significance as a document by AUB Architecture and Design professor Ahmad Gharbieh, among much more. What's not to love?

5. BENEFICIAL SHOCK One of the two newest magazines in our list is also one of the most exciting around at the moment. It combines film and illustration in magnificent ways and is a must-read for both celluloid and artistic aficionados alike. Far from being just another movie magazine, Beneficial Shock, is colourful and clever giving the chance for large form illustration to enhance the stories themselves and really push the visual element. At times it’s like an original comic, the imagery really liberating the film-themed texts as opposed to the majority of movie mags that simply use stock imagery. One to watch and most certainly one not to be missed – the launch issue is out now.

6. RIPOSTE When it comes to smart women’s magazines there’s few in our humble opinion that come close to Riposte. It’s a magazine by women for women packed with honest interviews and discussions covering women and subjects across the fields of art, music, business, politics, business, health and more. Far from the mainstream titles in the field Riposte is a hard-hitting journal and not afraid to speak out about difficult as well as more straightforward issues affecting women today. Add to that exciting, cleverly designed spreads and a highly readable design and you get the most influential women’s magazine out there today.

7. THE OUTPOST A magazine that’s very close to The Sounder and Papercup’s heart is currently Beirut’s best independent, free-thinking magazine, something not easy to achieve when combined with the constant upheaval taking place in the Arab world. Our friend Ibrahim Nehme’s ‘magazine of possibilities’, The Outpost, is exactly that. It’s positive, intellectually challenging and artfully put together providing a space for young Arabs both at home and abroad (as well as foreigners as it’s an English language publication) to understand – and with a little luck change – their world.  Nehme’s stated aim is for The Outpost to be a beacon for sociocultural movement in the region. With its mix of personal narratives and long form journalism including questions of identity and what the future holds, and crisp, readable design as well as thought-provoking photography we believe it’s got every chance of succeeding.

8. PASTURE Clean design, beautifully shot photography and a deep love of food makes the first issue of Pasture one you’ll want to read over and over. The makers’ stated aim is to get “behind the plate of food and delve into the environment, the product and people behind it” and they succeed in doing this phenomenally well. With features on mindful eating, how to grow your own kitchen garden with a Michelin-starred chef, mushroom foraging, the evolution of our interest in food, and even how the pottery we eat off is made, Pasture is a wonderfully refreshing take on what we eat and how we eat it. A note on the images – its super hard to take attractive and good photos of food but by focussing on close-ups and using exceptional colour and reprographics Pasture nails them.

9. CEREAL Cereal might just be our favourite independent travel magazine for its singular vision, minimalist design and perfectly balanced editorial. The words are always evocative and thought provoking and the photography bold and huge and beautifully printed that really take you to the destination. Cereal Volume 13 has a cover we absolutely adore for it’s simplicity and impact, and features a discussion on design with John Pawson and Margaret Howell, covers the urban sprawls of London and Sydney, and escapes to Bali and Sri Lanka as well as featuring a tour of the former home of Georgia O’Keeffe.