To relaunch our Magazine Rack feature, where we seek out the people behind our favourite magazines, we got in touch with one of favourite new discoveries from last year. Now on their third issue, their ‘Defiance’ issue, Lobby is an architecture magazine which is unlike any other we’ve read. Our three words would have to be: vibrant, innovative and enticing. We sit down with Editor-in-Chief Regner Ramos to find out more:
What does the magazine seek to achieve? What’s the story your seeking to tell?
LOBBY is a biannual architecture magazine. In each issue we lobby for a particular theme that’ll come across to our readers as surprisingly non-architectural – at first glance, anyway. This allows us to be playful, while giving readers something unexpected, something they won’t get from any other architecture magazine out there at the moment.
One of the things that LOBBY tries to do is to feed our readers with short ideas or musings – some really accessible and some a bit more complex. It’s food for thought. We want to inform and inspire our readers, not bombard them with cynicism. Someone once referred to the articles we feature in each issue as ‘tapas’ – Spanish cuisine where you get small plates of different food to tickle your taste buds and to pass around. I thought that was quite accurate, and funny too! That’s another thing. We like to playfully introduce a spark of humour throughout each issue. If our readers crack a smile as they turn the pages, then I think we’ve done part of our job.
Even though today we consume huge amounts of written and visual content on screens – and we too feature original commissions in our website – there’s still many people people that like to hold an actual magazine in their hands, display it on their shelves and even smell its pages. I know every editor says that, but it’s true! There’s something about ownership that comes with print that you don’t really get with digital, and it might have to do with the fact that you can interact with print through more senses than just the visual. It’s tangible; you can go back to it time and time again. I think that’s pretty responsive to how architecture and design work too. As architects and designers, we don’t just want to give our readers information, we want to give readers a valuable, physical object they’d want to keep.
The magazine has a terrific production quality. Tell us about the decisions around production and design.
Thank you! We’ve always strived to make a magazine that from the very moment you set your eyes on it, looks like no other architectural magazine. Our illustrated covers are a great example of this. Our Art Director(s) have been phenomenal at giving LOBBY a material form and a visual language. We wanted it to be playful and colourful, while still being coherent and logical. Our goal is to give our readers the most beautiful product we can possibly give them, so instead of feeling limited by our very small production budget, we’ve used this to our advantage. Many of the design decisions derive from that – the sections that are printed in monochrome and the condensed typography, for example.
LOBBY, like The Holborn, has an architectural structure. How does this inform the Editorial process?
The magazine was conceptualised as a spatial experience where the reader ‘walks’ through different rooms to engage with the different kinds of conversations. This makes each section perform differently, catering to our different readers’ preferences. For instance, the Exhibition Space is the most ‘magazine-like’; it features the most visual content and exhibits texts that resonate the strongest with the theme in the most accessible manner. Seminar Room, on the other hand, features a reprint of an academic text. We then ask a selection of contributors to write a short essay responding to that text, before holding a round-table discussion with them, which is then transcribed and published.
Where do you and your team take your inspiration from? Do you have any office favourites amongst other publications?
We want to fill in the gaps that are left in between what our favourite publications are doing and saying. We respect their work, and don’t want to repeat or copy them, so our inspiration is to be slightly tangential, quirky and charming in the theme we lobby for, the articles we print and the visuals we commission. I’m personally inspired by magazines with strong visual identities and unique tones – publications like Glass, The Gentlewoman, Tank, Man About Town and Boat. They’ve helped me to think about publishing architectural theory in a new way, aesthetically and content-wise.
Tell us about the current issue. What are the highlights?
For ‘Defiance’ we wanted to challenge the simplistic notion the word usually has. To be defiant isn’t about irreverential rebellion, it’s about the upholding of the ideals and beliefs we hold dear. We explored this idea through various ways: a story on weeds, an interview with Mario Botta, an article on Versailles, a photo essay reinterpreting George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’! We also interviewed Carme Pinós, who’s one of the astonishingly few female architects with an international reputation. It was fantastic to feature her as an iconic woman defying a field dominated by men. And kicking ass.
What do we have to look forward to in future issues?
We’re in the production stage of our ‘Abundance’ issue, which is a super exciting topic to explore because of its sheer diversity! Readers can expect a variety of clever articles, phenomenal illustrations and photographs, we bid adieu to the bellyband, and we bring The Toilets section – which has always been a poster – inside the book to make it a bit chunkier to the touch! We’re also featuring some really great interviews with some amazing architects… and with one very, very famous cartoonist. It’ll be a really fun, insightful issue.
Interview by Morgan Hamilton-Griffin