New Statesman | 2006

Redesign in collaboration with Simon Esterson. For this weekly current affairs title we tried to shift the emphasis from pictures to text. The NS doesn't have the resources to make great picture-led layouts but they do have plenty of strong stories and great writers. This strategy is particularly evident on the front covers which we designed for the first 6 months after implementation.

We tried to make it a more pleasant read by introducing a whiter matt paper stock, replacing gloss, and larger page size to let the pages breathe. Upper and lower case headlines and a restrained colour palette give the pages a more measured tone of voice.

Winner Best front Cover and Best Typography, UK Press Gazette Awards 2006; Current Affairs Magazine of the Year, 2006 from the British Society of Magazine Editors

Interview with Jeremy Leslie for MagCulture

Was the redesign a complete overhaul including editorial as well as design?
The redesign brief contained several new editorial ideas. In response to that we also introduced some new organisation and structural innovations. The flat plan was a subject for much discussion and we made several dummies with different sequences to convince the team of the structural changes.

Was there a distinct change in editorial direction or simply an updating of the same direction?
The new editor John Kampfner had been in the job a few months before we were brought in. His ambition was to make the magazine 'a treat' both visually and editorially. He introduced a sharper satirical humour with new columnists such as Julian Clary, and a play called 'Neighbours from Hell'. While he wanted to retain many of the traditional elements that identifiy the magazine as a news weekly, and NS loyal readership were happy to see that their favourite writers and columnists such as John Pilger were retained, there is probably a greater mix of voices than before.

Does the description left- or right-wing matter any more?
We were very keen to get away from the 'angry' typography of red and black all caps headlines which seemed to represent a constituency that was less visually sophisticated. Upper and lower serif headings gave a calmer more considered feel and made the writing seem more authoritative.

Why the increase in page size - an interesting bucking of the current trend toward smaller formats?
It gives the impression that you are getting more content, though that wasn't the chief intention. We wanted to let the features breathe and allow for white space and strong display typography. The space and change of pace possible with a larger page size meant that more feature layout options would give the magazine a distinctly different feel. There a no conscious increase or decrease in the word-count

What fonts are used?
The serif font is Documenta from the Dutch Type Library - including a specially cut headline version used on covers - and Fresco Sans for support typography.

Finally, is there one single thing you feel that underpins your design for the magazine?
The cover is perhaps the most radical change in the magazine's design approach and signals an emphasis on strong stories and excellent writing (where NS can better compete with its immediate rivals) rather than a reliance on producing a sensational news image every week.