The Holborn magazine has been a favorite for many since its first issue was released last year. Readers are more often than not charmed by its approach, specifically the way it imagines itself to be a gastro-pub in East London and how it divides each section of the publication into the different rooms of a building. There’s the library, the bar, the pantry, and the workshop—and as you pass through the pages, you’re encouraged to picture yourself ascending and descending the sturdy wooden staircase of the imaginary, Victorian Holborn House.
I’ve always enjoyed the concept of The Holborn, but I’ve also wished that the layout would reflect the dusty corridors of the made-up building; fictional structure and physical structure should be linked. The redesign of the fifth issue addresses my concern with a lot more whimsy and personality, largely through commissioned illustration. Drawings adorn the pages like the eccentric, mysterious paintings and intricate wallpaper you’d expect to find in an English town house (if the town house were actually an indie magazine).
“We decided to redesign as part of the decision to go bi-annual, and wanted to create a different offering that suited that new schedule,” say editor Morgan Hamilton-Griffin of the change in format. “We also took on board what we had learnt from feedback over the course of our first year.”
In the new Bar section, there’s an evocative illustration by Brittany Molineux accompanying an article on wartime boozing, and in the Wardrobe there’s beautiful, cartoonish wallpaper adorning a spread that signals the next chapter; I think of these title page double spreads as corridors that take you from one section to the next. In the Pantry we find an explosive array of food drawn by Sergiy Maidukov set on an eccentric dining table. What it actually accompanies is an article exploring the history of the Scottish breakfast.
Illustration suits The Holborn because its concept depends so much on the imagination. I’d like to see a bit more continuity throughout the issues in terms of the typography and photography, but otherwise I enjoy the way that its image and vision is crystalized through illustration. This issue’s Scotland theme fills the house with something new, too. We’re in London, but we’re also beyond the British capital and up North. The magazine is like an evocative portal rocketing you from paper to place.
This article was originally published by magCulture.