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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Livingetc: It’s for style but it’s not stylish!

Britain’s best selling homes magazine, Livingetc is launched last month in India. This Indian edition is launched by Images group (also publishers of ‘m’, ‘BoF’, ‘FnL’, FnL Central, Images Retail-Hindi & English, Progressive Grocer, Salon etc.) via a licensing agreement with IPC media.

Though Indian market has already a couple of magazines in this space, Livingetc has its own vertical of ‘fashionable & stylish homes’. Editor-in-Chief Amitabh Taneja believes that India is now ready to have a magazine with this positioning. Indian edition of livingetc is edited by Executive Editor, Mridula Sharma who had an association with ‘Design Today’, ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ and ‘Inside Outside’ magazines.

As it is claimed to be fashionable & stylish, Livingetc is divided into major sections- shopping, inspirational homes & ideas for decorations. Apart from these food & travel articles also there in the magazine to make it complete relaxed living magazine.

Launch issue of Indian Livingetc is carrying a balanced mix of UK & local content. Though for the stylish factor it hardly matters, but poor photography of local stories increases the gap between the both. To showcase the fashionable & stylish homes, it becomes essential to have more number of photographs. And that’s where writers get confused to write text & structure of an article gets messed up. Same happened in most of the articles in Livingetc, despite of putting useful information; it is become difficult to navigate the article.

Because of poor structure of article, it becomes problematic to create a scribble for that article. In Livingetc, designers & layout artists must have juggled a lot to put a complete article- words, illustrations & photographs all together on pages. That is why it has lot of inconsistencies & silly mistakes in design. There are lots of fonts, styles and effects are used in layouts which are only creating clutter on the pages instead of leading readers. And because of too many things it leaves scope of errors (that too on cover itself).

Colors used on the cover for launch issue are good but the photograph is not reflecting the ‘positioning’ of Livingetc. Even the layout for cover stories is not impressive. It has lot of variations in styles, effects, typo, sizes which shows lack of discipline in design. Yes, Master Head is looking good on the cover.

Like other magazines from Images Group, Livingetc also has excellent printing. Its just flawless, from cover to cover everything is printed perfect. Color reproduction is brilliant. Prepress work is also good, all the photographs are printed well (despite the fact that few of photographs themselves are poor).

If I look at paper quality of Livingetc, it is OK but this product is not justifying its positioning. Size of magazine might have international constraint but it could be better product by taking little bit better paper. Livingetc is perfect bound magazine of around 150 pages and it is priced at Rs.100.

If photography, design & presentation of Livingetc can be improved, then its content is just fine to create its own niche in Indian market space. The product (the magazine) itself should be as stylish as its readers profile is who prefer to buy premium products for their homes.

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G.V.Sreekumar said...

dear virdi, it is a wonderful thing you have done to give a detailed review of new magazines. it is a very good learning platform for people in the business of communication. but i am very disappointed at the "classic" age old ignorance of the designer who created the visual form of the magazine. it is a tradition not to include the name of the designer in any discussion on the design of a product.
i agree with you if you say it is very difficult to even find out the designer's name of each of the magazine you have reviewed!

G.S.Virdi said...

Dear GV, nice to hear you on my review.

Its not that I can't get designer's names or I don't want to take their names...but my problem is that most of the times poor design or layout is just not their fault!

I know its shocking and sad to know but truth is that only. I have spoken a number of designers if I found something bad in design, most of the times their answer is- What could I do, it was asked to do so by my editor!!!
That really piss me...

I am not talking about about the league which you belong to GV, but in most of the magazines, poor designers dont have any choice but to follow thier editor's instructions... they dont design, they simple execute editor's ideas.
In fact, i am fully with a designer who has guts to do his job without obeying another person who is not even qualified to comment on design. If a person like this does any mistake, his name can be taken.

But I see most of the time, editor sitting on designer's head to get the work done as he likes not the way designer wants to do.
Specially when it comes to the cover of the magazine, poor designer cant do a bit at his own, each & every instruction comes from the editor- what colour of text, what visual, what size, what distance between two elements....everything!!!

So, in genaral, I dont blaim designers if I see some badly design magazine..I understand that it is done under different situation only.

Trust me, I dont ignore designers credits... I would love to see those designers work who have guts to execute their own ideas and who have guts to say NO to the editors.

Hope to see your inputs regularly!

Best Regards,


G.V.Sreekumar said...

dear virdi
thanks for the reply, i am so happy that you have opened the pandoras box which is hurting the industry for a long long long time!
but still i believe that as a critic you can mention the name of the editor and designer.
it will cause the following (or or many or all of them!):

1. the public will throw stones at both-designer and editor- for bad design.
2. the editor will stop designing by proxy
3. the editor will be forced to take responsibility of design decisions.

i will write about this in detail in my blog and we will have a drink on it!
thanks again

G.S.Virdi said...

Yes GV, its really hurting!

When a printed piece of work appreciated (specially design viz)Editor take all the credit for that...he will say- 'You know waht, I was sitting with that f**** designer all the time and I only told him everything to do'. And if same piece gets criticised, editor will put all the balim on poor designer.

I think, in most cases it is because of heirarchy only in that even an art director has to report to editor.

I know for valid reasons, it cant be change but at least editors musy have guts to take the ownership of whatever result comes...honestly!