Alex Hunting Studio’s comprehensive redesign of luxury magazine Sabato is led by simplicity and space
Produced in both Dutch and French for Belgium’s leading business newspapers De Tijd and L’Echo, the weekly supplementary magazine Sabato that reports on arts and design is far from a simple task to design. In need of a facelift, the editorial team behind Sabato reached out to Alex Hunting Studio, the London-based creative agency founded by Kinfolk Design Director Alex Hunting, to elevate the quality of the magazine and find its position in the luxury magazine market.
In consultation with the in-house design team, Hunting worked from the ground up, rebuilding the magazine from scratch, including its typographic and grid systems, physical and editorial format, image treatment and logotype. This came with an enormous set of challenges, both from the audience-focused perspective, accommodating Saboto’s existing readers whilst trying to appeal to a new younger congregation, as well as the logistical side.
“The real considerations were around text lengths (when an article in one language might have a longer character count than another),” Hunting explains, recalling the issue with designing for multiple languages. “We had to provide a really comprehensive set of templates, with multiple character count options for each type of article/page,” Hunting tells us, explaining the extended issue with translations. He adds that “certain feature openers work with a particular headline in one language, but don’t work with the same headline translated, so again lots of variations of feature opener templates were needed.”
An aesthetic decision that works towards this flexibility is the generous use of white space, creating a new format that was determined by the existing size of the newspaper. Hunting explains that “we simply chose the largest format we could that would fit comfortably within the folded Berliner format newspaper, in order to create a more luxurious sense of space.” To this end, Hunting’s editorial decisions were intelligently led by simplicity and space, creating a tone that is indeed luxurious but not excessive, instead remaining stark and clean without being cold and unfriendly. This was also assisted by Hunting’s refined but striking colour palette selection, that was temporarily chosen with the intention of the in-house design team “refreshing the accent colours each quarter or so.”
Subverting the connotations behind type choice in luxury editorials, Hunting clarifies that they “opted for a combination of type families that gave us both a classic feel but also had some interesting quirks and character within the families.” This led to the marriage of the Feliciano Type’s Parnaso family, a collection of delicate and characterful typefaces, and Plaax by 205TF which provides an enthusiastic, dynamic contrast to its more ‘luxurious’ and refined counterpart. Although initially cantankerous in their comparison, Hunting adds that “interchanging the two families created a slightly awkward tension that I really liked.”