A Look Inside the Revamped October Issue

I received the October issue of Martha Stewart Living last Friday and I've been enjoying it ever since. As noted in a previous blog, the magazine has been redesigned with subtle changes to help improve its flow and visual appeal. Below I've highlighted some of the changes you will notice in the issue - all of which I'm very happy with, as a reader!
Let's start with the cover: I love it! Martha appears for the first time in a very long time. It's been almost two years since she's been on the cover and the last time she appeared it was in the form of a painted portrait for the December, 2015, issue. This is the first October cover she's graced since 1995 and I'm hopeful that her appearance signals the return of more Martha content in the issues to come. I notice, too, that the cover is not plastered with headlines, as some of the recent issues have been. A magazine cover that is crowded with competing headlines can look desperate: "Buy me! Look at me!" Letting the image speak for itself with a few artfully-worded teasers should be enough to lure a reader.
The Contents page feels bright and engaging. The highlights of the features well are all isolated on the first page in an easy-to-read fashion. The use of bold photography and large numerical font keeps it looking graphic.
Martha in Roy Lichtenstein pastiche for Halloween looks ravishing! Each of the front-of-book sections now has a large white block at the top of their respective title pages. A full-page photograph is arresting and engaging.
The same design techniques are used for the Good Things section as well, keeping the magazine flowing through a sense of visual consistency using repeated design cues.
First of all, I love this large, exaggerated pegboard idea! As you page through the magazine, I love that the introductory page to each section is clearly formatted using the same design template.
One of the new fonts developed for MSL is shown at the top of this page: "THE CREATIVE PROCESS." It is clean and linear. Lots of white space on the editorial pages makes for an easy read.
A bit of a different look for the Ask Martha section with its bold, capital Q. In previous issues the Ask Martha section felt a bit buried in the Good Living section. Oftentimes I would barely notice it. Now it stands on its own and is much more visible.
The Everyday Food section feels more elevated and noticeable in its new layout.
The back of the magazine is introduced, as it always has been, with a splash page that gives the reader pause as she ventures into the features section. Here, a lovely thought for the autumn season from poet Stanley Horowitz.
Big, beautiful photographs introduce the first feature about New Jersey apple growers and their annual harvest party. The photographs, by Mikkel Vang, are warm and sumptuous.
Halloween decorating is a MUST for Martha's October issue. Six full pages are devoted to the subject in this issue. The crafts do have a bit of a "seen it before" feel but the layout and design is so reminiscent of some of the really glorious past issues. Again, the photography (by Ted Cavanaugh) is appropriately moody and atmospheric.
Page to page, the content flows beautifully.
Breads - all kinds of breads! Another innovative and delicious-looking feature from the food department. Carrot-Asiago bread? Yes, please! With a side of Pumpkin-Orange on the side!
The editors are getting so much better at including at least one garden story per issue. This one, in California, is so simply serene.
And, of course, a decorating feature. This one is all about the creative use of tiles in areas of the home where you may not expect to find them: the living room, the bedroom and on tabletops.

Overall, the design changes bring a lightness to the magazine: a new sense of flow for a streamlined reading experience. By contrast, the photographs appear to be more intricate and lush, thoughtfully styled and composed, much like they were in past issues when Ayesha Patel was running the style department. They seem to have taken their cues from those really beautiful editorials and implemented them.

Let me know what you think of the issue once you receive it by leaving a comment!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't received my copy as of yet, but by your review looks like it is off to a good start!
I would mention the cover has a great feel, besides seeing Ms Stewart, it is not just photos of food (no matter how beautifully photographed it looks like so many other magazines). The contant looks enjoyable and excellent photography. As for the possible repeat of Holloween contact, while I am not saying " what could be left to design/create I would say after 20 plus years I am pleased with content that places me in a Holiday mood and still inspires!
Looking fwd to the issue!