Emma Kaniuk and Tana Mitchell founded the Britomart-based Studio Akin. They’re part of the team behind the new architecture and design magazine Here, which launched in late June.
Britomart: You contributed to Here. Can you tell us what the magazine is about, how you came to be involved and what you did?
Studio Akin: Here’s focus is local architecture, as well as the interconnected culture and community that surrounds it. We felt awful, angry even, when we lost some of our favourite titles during lockdown. However, conversations in our creative community soon turned towards perseverance: as creatives we are well placed to imagine new futures. We’ve worked with Simon Farrell-Green (editor) and Sarah Gladwell (art director) previously — we’re all longtime collaborators — so we were super-excited when they invited us to art-direct the first feature section.
Several design and architecture magazines collapsed during the Covid-19 lockdowns (including Home, which Simon Farrell-Green previously edited) leaving New Zealand design media in a very shaky state. How do you think Here will contribute to the scene in a new and fresh way?
Here feels more thoughtful, more personal, more responsive and more community-spirited then previous incarnations. Regardless of these troubling times, it is a celebration of Aotearoa New Zealand place-making. The craft, photography and production standards are high as always, yet overall the design intention is looser, and more expressive.
The turnaround on the magazine was incredibly quick, from a fundraising effort last month to on-shelves last week. How hard did you have to work to achieve this?
HARD. It was a huge effort from the small team involved. We got it done because as a group of creatives we were already aligned — we know and respect each other as people and practitioners. So, regardless of so many reasons not to do this, the trust we collectively had and our united “Fuck you Covid, we’re gonna do this” ambition got us there.
What do you enjoy about magazine design work?
We love editorial: the tactility, the physical parameters and the pointy-headedness.
Magazines were deemed 'non-essential services' by the government during lockdown (leading to the aforementioned closures). What do you, as designers and readers, find essential about magazines?
Long-form, investigative journalism or specialist storytelling is how we capture and reflect upon ourselves, and for us, this is best captured in print. Documenting, collecting and archiving is a different practice to scrolling — if Covid taught us anything, it’s that screens are not the only answer.