Monocle & Lifo vs Wallpaper* & (symbol)

The current issue of Monocle

Having been the editor a small magazine for the employees of the company I was working for, I can attest it is no easy feat. I constantly juggled with looming deadlines, unresponsive editors, self-centred creative directors and sometimes unexpected disasters. There are some editors, however, who not only have mastered this process of creating and editing magazines, but have the ability to produce some hidden gems: magazines that can be imaginative and inspiring. This post is about two of them, Tyler Brûlé and Stathis Tsagarousianos.

Before I continue, let me say that I have never met them, and besides very few e-mail exchanges with Tyler, I never had any further communication with them. I can only speak judging the finished product, the magazines that they produce.

Lifo magazine

I got to know Tyler as an editor when I bought an issue of Wallpaper*. At that time, Wallpaper* was frequently raised by most of the media, including some of the Greek magazines. Wallpaper* was different in its content from any other magazine I knew. Instead of focusing on people, Wallpaper* was focusing on design. Its editors were carefully touring the world to unearth the latest trends and identify emerging talents. It wasn’t a simple catalogue of fancy gadgets, furniture and rugs but a bible of trendsetting design.

I got to know Stathis as an editor when I bought up a copy of (symbol), a magazine published by the Saturday newspaper called “The investor” (Ependitis). I had seen an advertisement on TV that the issue was featuring an interesting article and decided to buy the newspaper. Soon I found myself buying the next issue that included an interview of a famous person. Those two issues were enough to get me hooked; every Saturday I would rush to the newspaper kiosk to buy the newspaper just to read Stathis’ inspiring editorials, Malvina’s weekly column, Marina The lady Marks’ stories and so many others. (symbol) was a magazine unlike any other at that time; it was centred around columns. Stathis had collected a bunch of talented people who always had something interesting to say. Complemented with an editorial team that was exhaustively unearthing the latest styles, trends and activities in the Athenian capital, it was not long before (symbol) gained wide acceptance and received the title of the “Best magazine of the Year” (which prompted Stathis to write one of he best editorials I have ever read in a magazine).

Wallpaper* issue 49, the last issue that Tyler edited

But Tyler’s success soon ended; Walpaper* 49 (June 2002) was the last issue he edited. In the contributors section, as a farewell gesture, Tyler praised his colleagues responsible for the magazine’s success and bid farewell by saying “As for me gentle readers, little more to say than thanks you and adieu.” It was the final straw between Tyler and Wallpaper*’s new owners, “Time Warner”, the company he sold the magazine he created in 2002. The success of (symbol) was also short-lived; with the collapse of the Greek stock market, interest for the newspaper gradually waned and the publishing house faced financial problems. Stathis’ departure from the magazine was announced abruptly in one of the summer issues. Without any explanation the readers were told that “Stathis was leaving for vacations.”

The issue of (symbol) that announces the 'Magazine of the Year' award

Since then both Tyler and Stathis were busy with different projects. For Tyler is was the creation of a branding agency and for Stathis a publishing house. But it was clear that Tyler and Stathis could not stay for long out of magazine publishing. Very few people have managed to find what they are good at, and for Tyler and Stathis I believe this to be their ability to create inspiring magazine. That’s why I was not at all surprised (well, OK maybe a little) when I heard about their new endeavours: Monocle for Tyler and Lifo for Stathis; both of them fresh, but with an aura of Wallpaper* and (symbol).

And if their success is also short-lived, I do not worry much. In time, I expect them to come back.

Lambda.

[images © LambdaPhage]

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