My background is in architecture. Unfortunately, most architecture magazines are horrible. Architecture is about 15 years behind the rest of the design world, and this is particularly evident when you look at magazines. Industry staples like Architectural Record, Architecture Digest and Architectural Review revel in the “tradition” of architecture, but don’t offer a progressive direction for the profession or any editorial space to those who are paving a new path.
Luckily enough, there is CLOG. Unlike its contemporaries that focus on the flavor of the day, CLOG “aims to slow things down.” Launched in 2011, every issue tackles a single subject pertinent to architecture, and it does so by gathering submissions from whoever feels like they have something to say about the subject, regardless of their background. You can think of CLOG as a crowd-sourced architectural digest that goes beyond any given topic, and beyond architecture itself.
The inaugural issue focused on Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), an architecture firm that has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the most visible practices in the world. Highly digestible 500-word entries examine every facet of Bjarke, his team of BIGsters, and their projects. The icing on the cake is an appendix of responses from Bjarke himself, attempting to refute the more venomous of the features. The formula is powerfully effective.
Fast forward to Spring 2013, when CLOG launched their fifth issue, titled National Mall. The issue is more mature than the first, but still features the same cheeky, analytical punch. Testifying for the variety of backgrounds that CLOG refreshingly draws ideas from, the issue leads with an article by a journalist, my wife, Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman aka The Italien), as she examines what the real American Mall is: the National Mall in DC, or the famous commercial center, the Mall of America. As she points out, the first 6 search results on Google are for the commercial center.
CLOG’s themes are great, but the magic is in the format. The magazine prides itself on publishing content “succinctly, on paper, away from the distractions and imperatives of the screen,” but I think the alchemy here is a bit different than what the editors are touting.
Flipping through CLOG is more akin to browsing a well written forum-thread, than, say, Architectural Record, where you’re going to have just a handful of lengthy features. Gone, also, is super-gloss architectural photography, and in its place is a smart use of black and white, a minimal layout, and punchy typography.
The length of time that it takes to absorb the content of a magazine is vital, and CLOG, unlike the speed that its name implies, actually expedites this relationship between content and reader. CLOG is more effectively understood as a cross-breed of architecture magazine and bathroom reader; succinct, entertaining, and informative. Compared to something like Paradis, CLOG is fast.
CLOG will be launching its next themed issue, on Brutalism, within the next few weeks. If you would like to see more, be sure to check out the CLOG website.
TISSUE first caught my eye almost a year ago at McNally Jackson, tucked on a hidden half-shelf between the glossy fashion section and the cafe. The cover was nondescript, but the edginess of the darkly patterned background combined with an atypical layout promised a few punches. It was love at first sight.
That was the first issue, and now TISSUE is officially launching their third issue in Berlin on February 26th at their big sister’s office, 032c. Unfortunately the commute is a little too long for me, but I encourage any of my German friends to make the trip – it will be well worth it.
TISSUE is all about sex, and it flaunts its sexiness in a shockingly honest, voyeuristic way. It is both anti-stylized and highly refined. The content begs the questions: Is it porn or art? Is it erotic? Is erotic a fitting term to place something between sex and art?
What does not exist in TISSUE is the high-gloss, high-photoshop, highly-implanted corpulence of porn. There are no snarling 40 year olds with boob jobs, oompa-loompa-orange skin, patterned knee-high socks and pigtails. Gone, even, are the couples, triples, gang bangers and gay brothers. In their stead are artful (through composition, texture and lighting) nudes gracing the likes of spare art galleries, window ledges, horses and suburban bedrooms. TISSUE tasks itself with creating a new eroticism that proves it is possible to communicate sexuality by completely devoting itself to exhibition and whimsy.
Breaking into the publication world is not easy. There is a growing genre of magazines that toe the lines between fashion, art and porn. The result of this often finds its home in highly stylized editorials, done in the name of Art but often lacking it, filled with soft-core porn. This approach dresses up porn a bit, kind of like putting lipstick on a bulldog, but in the end its still porn. At the same time, typical editorials are stuck in a nether world where people lay around in ridiculous poses and situations. It reaks of the same staged fakeness as porn.
Luckily enough, TISSUE is at the other end of the spectrum by avoiding the pitfalls and cliches of both porn (hard and soft) and fashion (HIGH and low) and sets out to take “sexy to the most unsexy of places” through a host of subjects including “women, men, horses, architecture, fire-breathing and porn paraphernalia.” The result is a new understanding of eroticism that unites very talented contributors within a graphically unique format.
The layout is minimal, but it’s not lazy. Infact it must take a massive amount of work to craft a magazine like this. I have a theory that TISSUE could be about anything, the graphic quality and layout are so unique that it would still be a fantastic magazine even if it traded cake decorating pics for the nudie shots.
There are only a few magazines that I swear by (032c, Purple Fashion, Pin-Up) — magazines that hold their weight every issue, magazines that are recognizable on every spread, and TISSUE is the newest to the list. Lazy magazines rely on the success (and consequently the failures) of their contributors like crutches, doing little more than placing content on the page. TISSUE breaks the mold by crafting a singular, immersive landscape for themselves, their collaborators and most importantly, their readers. The result is a very special magazine.
We managed to catch-up with the mastermind behind TISSUE, Uwe Jens Bermeitinger and set out to uncover a bit about the magazine and its mission.
Matthew Hoffman & Francesca Giuliani Firstly, can you tell us, why the name TISSUE?
Uwe Jens Bermeitinger Well, the title refers to the tissue you use to clean up your mess. And of course, the biological term “tissue” fits very well with what it’s all about. At least on the surface…
MH/FG Before embarking on TISSUE, you created and directed Nude Paper, which unfortunately only lived to see three issues. Can you talk a bit about your adventures with Nude Paper, and what the similarities and differences are with TISSUE?
UJB Nude Paper was big fun. I was sharpening my tools. We had a few difficulties with the publisher of Nude Paper so the whole team split up. Now we’ve started something deeper: TISSUE Magazine. Melanie Jeske and I publish it on our own, along with an ambitious team, the best contributors, and a lot of support from colleagues, friends and readers. TISSUE is a collective. It only works because nobody, except the printing house, is asking for money. I fund it with my own savings and the money I earn as a freelance art director. Nude Paper explored the ways of expressing nudity – a much simpler and short-dated concept. TISSUE Magazine goes deeper into human sexuality. We like to call it a “bedroom produced art and sex manual.”
MH/FG You mention that TISSUE takes “sex to the unsexiest of places.” Can you elaborate on that? What place is the unsexiest?
UJB This is a pretty cool quote from our friends over at 032c from an article on Nude Paper in their 20th issue. We loved it so much, we just stole it for TISSUE. It’s like having the Midas touch in sexy matters.
To answer your second question, the waiting room of a urologist is the unsexiest place. The unsexiest of things are definitely foot orthotics – which I should wear. But I don’t.
MH/FG As far as TISSUE is concerned, is there an added value in approaching the topic of sex from a German perspective?
UJB Germans are hardcore. Like Kurt Tucholsky said: “Deutsch sein heißt eine Sache um ihrer selbst willen tun.” It means: doing something for its own sake. This is exactly what we are doing. We have no business plan and don’t do marketing – we just do what we want and give it all to the project.
TISSUE is proud of its German origin and we also know that it’s an international product with contributors and influences from around the world. Germany had some very dark times in history, but there has also always been a strong will for freedom. There were nudist movements in the first decades of 20th century, as well as in the 60’s and 70’s; people were striving for sexual freedom. On the other side of the wall, too. There have always been feminist and gay movements in Germany, and these influenced me a lot in my youth.
At the end, I think TISSUE is about freedom!
MH/FG What would you say is vulgar?
UJB Constantly complaining about one’s life while not recognizing that life itself is the highest gift of all. The privilege of living in the western world where everything is available at anytime in big amounts. Not seeing the opportunities of the freedom you live in. That’s vulgar.
MH/FG How do you go about selecting contributors for each issue?
UJB The best results show when the artist has total freedom and the guts to use it. I chose artists because of their special view on things; on sex, on life. I want them to dig deeper into the universe of human sexuality and the human factor. At least it just has to look cool.
MH/FG You made a leap from Issue #1 to a much more substantial Issue #2, from “underground fanzine to wannabe-highbrow magazine.” Is this natural growth or is there something more to it?
UJB This is natural growth, or better: we’re accomplishing our objective issue by issue and we will never stop improving or re-inventing ourself. With issue 2 we obviously gained more color without getting glossy. We fight against stupidity, convenience and the visual fascism the mass media forces on us. We are searching for the truth.
MH/FG What publications inspire you, and who do you look up to? Do you collect magazines yourself? What makes you choose one magazine over another?
UJB I love and collect magazines. It’s my fuel and a big spring of inspiration. I look up to our big sister 032c from Berlin. 032c is the best magazine in the world. Richardson Magazine is a benchmark for us too.
MH/FG Last question, what is next for TISSUE?
UJB We are releasing issue N°3 right now. We are looking for a small distributor in the U.S. and more outlets. We are thinking about opening a gallery in our hometown of Hamburg, Germany, at least for a few months to bring all of our friends and artists from around the world together in one place. Japan is our biggest market, maybe we should release issue N°3 there. Let’s see what happens!