Thanks to the digital revolution, fewer and fewer of us are getting our hands on paper copies of books, magazines, or newspapers these days. Online subscriptions and digital versions can fill the void, but sometimes, picking up a glossy magazine is simply the best way to absorb inspiration. You can’t beat the smell of fresh ink, the texture and weight of high-quality paper, and the sound as you flip through the pages. When holding a magazine, I’m not simply reading it—I’m immersed in it.
I asked my fellow designers which publications they find the most exciting, and I’ve included a few of my favorites, too:
Yes, I suppose it’s an interior design magazine, but instead of focusing on beautiful, minimalist, multi-million-dollar houses (not that there's anything wrong with that), Apartamento covers real, lived-in homes and the creative people who occupy them. Raw portrait photography, cluttered spaces, and intimate interviews show how people really choose to live. Based in Barcelona, Spain, it’s survived through subscription revenue and a higher newsstand price, and has bucked the trend of featuring numerous ads or sponsored content. Plus, its perfect novel size, centered layout, patterned spine, and chunky typography are delightfully raw and unfussy. —Lindsey Turner, IDEO Cambridge
B magazine is published in South Korea. Every issue, it takes an advertisement-free, documentary approach to a single iconic brand. It’s covered many amazing brands, from the luxury to the mundane, including LEGO, Ray-Ban, and Bic. Each issue goes deep into the people, history, evolution, products, experiences, and philosophies of the brand it covers. Fans and collectors are also often included. I recommend it to anyone who likes branding and brand strategy, or just loves products and design. The many ways it looks at a brand and all its expressions goes far beyond simple identity and logo. —Clark Scheffy, IDEO San Francisco
In 2014, first generation Asian-Americans Vicky Ho and Kathleen Tso launched Banana magazine, a lifestyle magazine dedicated to exploring the intersection of Eastern and Western cultures. Ho and Tso are not claiming to be experts in Asian culture, but rather are discovering it right alongside their readers. Their goal is to understand what this third identity—neither Asian nor American, but Asian-American—means. As a designer, I think it’s fascinating to understand how cultures can blend together. With the growing influence of Asian countries on design trends, this magazine is relevant, vibrant, and bold, and offers great graphic design inspiration. —Coline Prevost, IDEO Palo Alto
[BranD] is a Hong Kong-based magazine that explores communication design in visual art, advertising, products, graphic design, and architecture. It brings together designers, artists, art directors, marketing specialists, and business-minded people of all stripes to share new ways to express ideas and brands visually. I'm an avid reader of [BranD] for inspiration in my craft; it's a great vehicle to stay connected to the ways other designers are stretching their own skills and building their crafts in a discipline—comms design—that is always evolving. —Joshua Lavra, IDEO San Francisco
Cat People is an English-Japanese bilingual magazine featuring interviews and works by cat-obsessed artists, designers, photographers, and writers. It’s only in its first issue, but it’s already sold out. I’m very excited for future editions because this magazine promises magnificent inspiration for design and feline die-hards (like me). —Camden Foley, IDEO Palo Alto
Cereal is a biannual travel and style magazine based in the United Kingdom. Each issue highlights engaging interviews and stories about unique design, art, and fashion on a specific theme, such as sustainability or desire. I’ve followed this magazine since its inception in 2016 and have every issue to date. Cereal’s publisher offers beautiful magazines, city guides, art prints, and even a children’s book—all with some of the best photography and design I’ve ever seen. —Camden Foley, IDEO Palo Alto
The Collective Quarterly is a magazine about travel and creativity across the U.S. The magazine staff—a rotating team of writers, photographers, illustrators, and other creatives—visits small towns or regions around the country to interview artists, creators, and other cornerstones of local life. As a photographer, the exceptional photography caught my eye, particularly that of one of the co-founders, who still shoots film photos like I do. It’s inspired me to get out with my camera more often. I recommend the magazine to anyone who seeks a deeper appreciation of creativity in intimate communities, hopes to explore non-urban corners of the country, or wants to bask in the magic of film photos. —Tara Safaie, IDEO San Francisco
Back when I was a barista, my mornings were spent adjusting the espresso machine's grind and my tamp to each bean's age and provenance. I learned that coffee is ubiquitous, yet highly circumstantial; you can find it in virtually any city, and yet each urban environment and its inhabitants have radically different rituals, cultures, and methods of consumption for this most essential drink. Drift transports its readers to different cities and their respective coffee cultures, allowing readers to intimately engage with new adventures in new places through a common cup of joe. —Adam Cristobal, IDEO Palo Alto
As we reach the peak of our food media zeitgeist, The Gourmand has emerged as one of the leading alternative voices in the space, covering everything from new ways of visualizing food emoji to Georgia O'Keeffe's strict diet. Boasting both witty writing and distinct art direction, the magazine offers a unique perspective and inspirational fodder to foodies, designers, and creatives of all stripes as we look for more visually appetizing ways to engage with the world. —Adam Cristobal, IDEO Palo Alto
Offscreen is a print magazine published three times a year, as well as a weekly newsletter, that takes a thoughtful, human-centred approach to technology. It’s is a slow counterbalance to the fast pace of popular media, exploring creativity and design through introspective writing and thoughtful human stories. Offscreen is a proponent of the “slow web,” celebrating the idea that not all that is instant and convenient is necessarily good for us. —Nathan Paterson, IDEO Tokyo
Surface is a New York magazine that covers a little of everything—design, architecture, fashion, culture, and travel. I picked it up because I judge magazines by their covers. Each cover features a great close-up portrait of a creative person—an architect, musician, industrial designer, etc. The portrait is paired with restrained, Swiss-style black typography and a grid well versed in white space. The magazine examines culture through the lens of design and has a whiff of one of my favorite blogs, Sight Unseen. It's conspicuous consumption for sure, but sometimes that's what magazines are for. —Lindsey Turner, IDEO Cambridge
Next time you want to explore cutting-edge design—or just enjoy a little eye candy—crack the cover of one of these magazines for an inspiring read.
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