Saturday, June 04, 2005

A new style magazine for politics

An interesting items in the Guardian Media site is this from Stephen Armstrong, about a relatively new British magazine (started August 2004) that gets at politics through a very stylish back door. Any young Canadian editors looking for an interesting model?

Lurking at the back of a Clerkenwell workshop is the office of London's latest style mag Diplo. Just like its hipster rivals Good For Nothing, Vice and Dazed & Confused, Diplo is put together by students straight out of St Martin's School of Fashion and Design. It has got all the cutting-edge visuals, the natty cartoons and even interviews with Snoop Dogg. Unlike the others, however, it also carries discussions on the state of Russia's market economy, a detailed history of Sino-Soviet relations and an essay by Denis McShane on Europe. Diplo is pitching itself as a journal of international affairs.

Editor Charlie Barker describes Diplo as the Economist for the Wallpaper* generation. On graduating from UCL, he set out to treat political discourse with the same passion other style magazines devote to fashion brands. To date, Diplo has devoted issues to Russia, Identity and Islam as well as co-operating with French discussion groups on joint European projects. "I'd studied politics and I found the things they were talking about were very interesting and very important but presented in very traditional and stale ways," he explains. "My generation wanted to be informed and wanted to engage in politics but didn't know how to. There was no exciting, innovative way for them to do this so I began to think - how could we translate what the politicians were talking about in a more creative way? So I came up with the idea of a graphic design magazine."

Diplo readers are a curious collection of students, creatives, MPs and party apparatchiks. Barker says: "I think today's generation, and not just my age group but people from all age groups, feel not just dissatisfied but disillusioned with politics. Politicians know that people feel very detached and they don't know how to bring them back into the political process. We don't have a political agenda but we do want people to try and be involved and one way we can do this is using graphic design."


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