Risky Design in the Contemporary Art Niche

Contemporary art magazine Frieze is undergoing a redesign, according to Sarah Dawood in Design Week. The magazine, which regularly includes art news, features, reviews and listings, is moving award from gorgeous and toward a more honest representation of current contemporary art.

“We’re thinking about covers in a different way and creating things that are more striking and arresting, and less beautiful,” says Frieze art director David Lane. “For the last few years, the Frieze covers have been very elegant and calm. That’s not necessarily representative of contemporary art – it’s more about reaction and making a statement. We’re going to take more risks with covers.”

The design changes aren’t just on the cover either; the inside is getting more flexibility and imagery to better tell the stories.

“We’ve allowed features to have bigger imagery and have looked at each one in its own merit rather than applying a one-size-fits-all template,” says Lane.

It’s not just changing for change’s sake, either. According to Lane, “the content has always been engaged in current affairs, but I’m not sure that’s always been represented in how the covers look.”

It’s a subtle yet profound form of reworking the medium to accurately portray the contents…with imagery that does more than simply delight the eyes (although it’s still stunning as ever). It’s also worth noting that they’ve changed paper stock, too, a move which Lane says add “more volume and tactility.”

This is absolutely in keeping with current thinking on designers and the importance of paper to a tactile-hungry audience. We appreciate good design in any form, especially when it’s consciously done with intended meaning. It’s worth a look just to see how this idea of intentional change is executed on the printed page.

Speaking of meaning, the folks at Artwork Abode have put together a witty little glossary of graphic design terms. It’s not for numpties and hopefully helps non-designers overcome their pain points talking to the design geeks on the team. Enjoy!