Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

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Poppy Thaxter
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Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

Who doesn’t love some beautiful editorial design combined with insightful ideas and articles? We do, that’s for sure. We’ve gathered a selection of our favourite independent magazines that cover a wealth of design-related topics, from typography and branding, to culture and critique. Perfect on your bookshelf, desk or in hand with a cup of coffee – these reads go beyond ‘good’ design.

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

​​A haven of typographic inspiration and insightful topics, TYPEONE is the only bi-annual magazine in the world that uses creative type mediums as a gateway and means to explore contemporary societal topics. Covering areas such as culture, innovation, and design, Amber Weaver – with her team and network of freelancers – orchestrates a well-loved publication in the design world that spotlights global initiatives, projects, campaigns, and the people behind them.

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

How many type specimens also serve as a platform for thoughts on culture and society? The team at Socio, believing that type should be a catalyst of shared conversations and ideas, set out to shake things up with their Journal – a publication that goes far beyond pangrams or dummy copy. Beautifully designed by Alicia Mundy and team, each issue explores a single theme – inspired by (and typeset in) a single type family from Sociotype. Featuring a wide roster of contributors, largely outside of the world of type design, the Journal’s selection of stories and articles make it much more than a simple type specimen.

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

MacGuffin • \muh-GUFF-in\ • noun. : an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance. MacGuffin is a celebratory deep-dive into the life of everyday things, widely recognised as one of the best indie mags out there, thanks to its impeccable research and design. The playful and unusual magazine offers an alternative approach to describing design; each issue is based around a single object, presented almost as plot devices, like the ‘MacGuffins’ in Hitchcock films. This is a must-have, not only as editorial-design inspiration, but also for the simple fact that you will return again and again, enjoying something new each time. 

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

If you’d like to know more about the brands you come across in your everyday life, Magazine B is the one for you. Each issue of the South Korea-based magazine provides insight into one particular brand (including the likes of Haagen-Daaz, TikTok and Rolex, to name a few), with an in-depth non-advertorial analysis of the business and its various components. Examining areas such as company history, philosophy and market reception – Magazine B sheds light on untold stories behind the brand, presented in a documentary format. As the publication receives no financial support from the brands themselves, it maintains a unique and independent perspective – a refreshing approach in the world of information overflow. 

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

Coming from the minds at Made Thought, To Think is their journal – designed with the sole purpose of giving readers an opportunity to stop, contemplate and think. Named aptly to reflect the deep thought at the core of the London-based studio, each issue invites designers, entrepreneurs, and change-makers to answer a single question. The journal presents their answers in a series of essays and conversations. With issue titles such as ‘HOW DO YOU GO DEEP IN A SHALLOW WORLD?’ and ‘HOW DO WE THINK FOREVER IN A WORLD RUNNING OUT OF TIME?’ To Think is not one to skim over. 

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

Deem is a biannual print journal and online platform that focuses on design as social practice, exploring human-centric design frameworks outside of the exclusive design spaces and canon. Founded by Nu Goteh, Alice Grandoit-Sutka and Marquise Stillwell, the LA-based publication asks how it can add value to communities, through recognising design as a tool for empowerment and inclusivity. Weaving together interviews, profiles, and essays – the publication is an enlightening and timely cross-examination of design as a shared experience, and the collective responsibility it holds.

Kerning, Culture & Critique: 7 must-have independent design magazines for your coffee table

Revue Faire was launched by two French designers, Sacha Léopold and François Havegeer, in 2017, following the realisation that very few journals addressed graphic design from a critical standpoint. Following the rhythm of the French university year, October to May, the magazine tackles one subject every issue – with the main body (in both French and English) often taking the form of a single long-form essay. The design, shifting like a chameleon, adapts to tell the story of the issue’s subject in question. With multiple ‘seasons’ behind them, there are plenty of issues to delve into as the popular publication promises a unique and educational experience every time.