Making Fiera magazine

by Steve Watson in June 2014
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Art & design

I first met Katie Treggiden, author of the Confessions of a Design Geek blog, when she attended one of my Magazine Publishing Masterclasses at the Guardian earlier this year. (Incidentally, the next Masterclass runs from 12-13 July, and there are still a few tickets left).

She arrived at the course with a strong idea for a print magazine that would build upon the success of her blog, and left with a clear set of next steps and a steely determination to make them happen. And so it is that, this week, she launched the Kickstarter campaign for Fiera, a new magazine dedicated to covering the world’s design fairs.

Fiera magazine

Congratulations on reaching the start of your Kickstarter campaign. Could you tell us a bit about what Fiera is?
It is a biannual independent print magazine, covering the world’s design shows. Every year cities around the world host these design weeks and design festivals to showcase the best new product and furniture designers, and I go to all of them, scouring them from dawn until dusk looking for new designers and unearthing new talent, rather than focusing on the big brands.

So what makes you want to turn that into a print magazine?
At the moment it gets covered on blogs, Instagram and Pinterest, and that’s brilliant. It’s fast and it’s immediate, but it’s as chaotic as the fairs are. There’s nothing that really rounds it all up in one place and makes sense of it by offering some critical analysis, and that’s what the magazine will do. Print is a good way to take a step back and make sense of it all.

And who do you see as the reader?
The prime target audience is people who would love to be going to those shows themselves, so designers, design buyers, journalists and students. There’s a huge amount of people who should go to these shows and would probably love to but can’t because they don’t have time or they can’t afford it, so that’s our core audience.

But we’re going to be very much about the people and processes behind the products, so I think anyone who has an interest in design will find this magazine interesting, as will anyone who’s interested in people who are passionate about what they do.

Fiera magazine

Of course we met when you came to the Magazine Masterclass at the Guardian, and when you were there you also met Jeremy Leslie of magCulture, who was one of our speakers and is now the art director for Fiera. That’s quite a coup!
It is! I was chuffed that he even recognised me! He sent me a DM after the course saying, “So you’re launching a magazine, do you want to meet for a coffee?” We talked it through and he actually thought I was a designer, which is a huge compliment because I’m not – I’m definitely a writer.

He was surprised to learn that one of my key take out points from the course was that I needed to find a designer – that was one of the real light bulb moments, the fact that I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own. So we were talking about that, he offered to help and I pretty much spat out my coffee and said yes before he could change his mind!

Well I’ve never seen that happen on the Masterclasses before, but there are affinities between the two of you aren’t there? You both have very popular blogs, and you both use them to do other things.
Yes – it transpires that we both have our little studios at the bottom of our gardens, which is where we run our blogging empires from, and I think Jeremy was very interested in the idea of moving Confessions of a Design Geek and my voice from the blogging world into magazines.

So what happens from here?
We’ve got a launch party happening tomorrow night, which will hopefully gather lots of potential backers in one place so we can tell them about it and give the Kickstarter campaign a bit of a boost.

The campaign ends mid-July, so hopefully by then we’ll have our funding in place, which will give us a bit of time to get our ducks in a row ahead of September, which is when the shows start. I’ll be going to London, Prague, Lodz and Eindhoven in September and October, gathering stories, words and photos, sucking it all up and then bringing that back to Jeremy to make a magazine!

We’re also looking for some contributors, because the front of the magazine is going to be this high-energy coverage, with interviews with the designers, really making you feel as if you were there, but the back end of the magazine is then going to be much more about critical analysis, long-form essays and macro trends. I’ll write some of that, but I’m also really keen to get writers from both inside and outside the design world, so I’m talking to a novelist, a poet and some economics writers, because I want people who bring a totally fresh perspective.

And what sort of rewards can people expect from the Kickstarter campaign?
The minimum reward is £20, which is how much the magazine costs. We were really keen that if people are going to support the campaign it’s because they want a copy of the magazine, so that was quite a strategic decision.

Then after that everything we’re doing is very much in line with the magazine, so for example you can have two copies of the magazine, which means you can crack the spine on one of them and keep the other one pristine. You can come to the press pass and actually watch the magazine being printed. You can come to Paris with me to Maison & Objet and actually see one of these trade shows for yourself. And right at the top end you can commission Jeremy or me to do a piece of consultancy for you – so I’ll write a bespoke trend report for your company from these shows, or Jeremy will come in and talk to your company about magazine design.

Fiera on Kickstarter
Guardian Independent Publishing Masterclass, 12-13 July

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