Yes, flipping through your favorite magazines at the newsstand is free, but we think paying to have them sent to your home, where you can fawn over the editorial layouts, savvy mix of typefaces, and maybe even the writing at your leisure is well worth the price—especially for these six magCulture-approved titles. Given that founder Jeremy Leslie and his small, ardent team have been so busy this year redesigning the site, producing the annual Modern Magazine conference, and opening their very own brick-and-mortar shop it’s almost surprising they have any time to sit around reading magazines at all.
Rob Alderson, contributor
I remember chatting with Jeremy on Monocle24’s The Stack programme last December about how brand magazines would start to borrow more from the indie scene over 2015. It has been really interesting to see this play out, with some brands getting it laughably wrong and others getting it really, really right. Time and again I come back to The Happy Reader – it’s brilliantly edited, nicely designed and genuinely affordable. I have huge admiration for Seb Emina and his team, and for Penguin for trusting them to produce something great without (seemingly) meddling too much.
My favorite discovery of 2015 was Rubbish Famzine, an occasional publication from Singapore that changes form every issue. First discovered when presented by the parents-and-kids team behind it at the U-Symposium back in March (their presentation a charming reminder how meeting the people behind a project brings it to life), I was immediately taken by it.
Each issue reflects the family’s life, weaving in different themes. The latest one (issue four) celebrated the country’s 50th year of independence by focusing on the capital city’s Garden City identity. The issue cleverly combines several small booklets screwed into a wooden flower press; each seperate part deals in different ways with Singapore’s obsession with greenery and planting. It’s well-researched, well-designed, and neatly mixes the personal and the common in a beautiful package.
Madeleine Morley, writer
Great content matched with great design makes The Gentlewoman my favorite magazine. It almost goes without saying, so much so that it actually doesn’t get said much any more. Yet 2015 has been a subtly interesting year for the sophisticated, independent woman’s mag, and I think that because everyone loves The Gentlewoman so much, it ironically gets left out of magazine conversations and round-ups. That’s why I’m celebrating it here.
The Spring/Summer issue marked a step away from the typical bright border covers that had defined The Gentlewoman, and instead signified a new style of covers with muted borders and lively, colorful portraits. A thoughtful Bjork made the perfect cover star for the change. Autumn/Winter continued with the new cover design, featuring a stunning shot of Saoirse Ronan by Alasdair McLellan, and inside there was a particularly fantastic interview with Pamela Anderson, who discussed vegan food while dressed in PJs. A new flat-planning editorial design also created a sense of unique edge that elegantly juxtaposed the decision to feature more commercial fashion shoots. 2015 has seen The Gentlewoman become even more established as a contemporary classic, but it has also demonstrated an editorial direction that is continually changing, mutating, and refining; a trait that all the greatest magazines share.
Jamie Atherton, shop manager
A long time in the incubator, the fifth issue of Little Joe (a “magazine about queers and cinema, mostly”) is epic—it’s hard for anyone not to remark on its girth. For the enthusiast drawn to the nether regions of the magiverse, the cheeky cover will prove a delight: a tribute to Boyd McDonald, the man behind Straight To Hell, once described by Gore Vidal as “one of the best radical papers in the country.” There’s too much wonderful stuff populating the black and purple pages to detail here, but I will just say to look out for the little something extra within: a sheet of temporary tattoos created by filmmaker Mike Kuchar. Be warned before applying one of the more salacious designs to your neck, however. The word “temporary” is used rather liberally.
Kelsey Freeman, designer
My favorite mag of 2015 has to be Mushpit! I’m always so excited for the next issue to come out, and as soon as it does I read it all in one go, laugh all the way through, and then am annoyed that it’s over. It’s so brilliant that there’s a magazine aimed at people my age that inspires and educates us about politics, fashion, and stuff that happens to young women everywhere. I thoroughly enjoyed their talk at The Modern Magazine 2015 and can’t wait for the next issue.
Stephanie Hartman, producer
For me it has to be Amuseum. Every element of the publication feels considered, the visuals are spot-on, and issue two opens with a beautiful description of the serendipitous moment the Slinky was created by American Naval engineer Richard James. Perfect!
Jese Sui, designer
My favorite magazine for 2015 must be MacGuffin. It’s the perfect Sunday read: not too intense, very relaxing with sudden interesting bursts of unexpected design elements. It gives a unique voice to objects that emphasize the journey of the “life of things,” rather than solely discussing the “design of things.”