I was super stoked to pick up a copy of Fiera on my recent visit to Home London: this new magazine is the brainchild of prolific design writer Katie Treggiden – the author of Confessions of a Design Geek – and aims to shed an analytical light on the many design fairs that she visits across the world. It’s a super ambitious project that was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign which raised over £16,000, and the final publication is a beautiful book, designed by the ace Jeremy Leslie of Magculture. Having recently run my own Kickstarter campaign to produce a book I was very keen to catch up with Katie to find out how it all came about.
Why did you decide to launch Fiera and what does the title mean?
The coverage of design festivals is exciting, dynamic and immediate, but almost as ephemeral at the shows themselves. Print coverage tends to be press release driven and therefore often misses young designers without PR support. After the shows, we all sort of go back to life as normal as if nothing had happened. I felt there was a space for a print magazine that captures the excitement of the fair whilst offering some insight and analysis to make sense of it all – and provides a platform for new designers. Fiera is Italian for fair.
How did you first meet and decide to work with Jeremy Leslie?
I met Jeremy on a Guardian Masterclass on independent publishing that he was a speaker on. He contacted me afterwards and suggested we met for a coffee to discuss my project. As you know, he is something of a Godfather in the world of independent design, so I was blown away. It’s a real honour to work with him – he’s an incredibly talented and experienced designer, and he’s really made the magazine what it is.
You must see so much design, how do you filter out the things that you love and do you ever suffer from ‘blindness’? (and if so do you have any strategies for getting around it?)
I work very much on gut instinct. I’m looking for fresh young designers with ideas that make the world a better place in some way – large or small. I can’t always articulate it straight away, but I know it when I see it. Trade shows can be exhausting so it’s important to look after yourself – flat shoes, plenty of water, a secret stash of chocolate – and to remember to enjoy it. I have the best job in the world – it would be a shame to be too tired to appreciate that!
Which is your favourite design festival and why?
I’m going to have to be loyal and say the London Design Festival – I can still remember visiting for the first time. It was like the door into another world had been opened to me. There are over 300 events on the first day alone – anyone who says they can’t find anything to interest or inspire them isn’t looking hard enough!
How did you get the various contributors involved?
For the first issue, I contacted people I respected who I thought might have something interesting to say, and asked them if they’d be interested in taking part. I was very lucky that despite not having a physical magazine to show them, most people said yes straight away. For Issue 2, people are starting to come to me with ideas, which is really nice.
What were the best and the hardest things about running a Kickstarter campaign, and do you have any tips for others who might want to run a similar crowdfunding campaign?
Running a Kickstarter campaign is honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done professionally. You put yourself out there for very public success or failure. It’s so rewarding when people back your idea and show their support, but I didn’t believe we were going to hit the target until the moment we did, so I felt sick for a month! The best thing is being able to launch a product with 300 pre-orders. You’ve already proved the market and connected with your readers before the product even exists. That’s a very privileged position to be in.
What is your favourite bit in this current issue of Fiera and why?
Oh, that’s a tough question! This doesn’t quite answer it, but I think my favourite part is the sheer physicality of it. I’ve been writing a design blog for almost five years, and write for a lot of online publications. There is something utterly magical about holding a magazine in your hands that’s been over a year in the making. I have to thank Jese and Jeremy at magCulture studio for that – it’s a truly beautiful object.
What next for the Fiera brand?
Issue 2! We’re already hard at work on the next issue. I’ve just come back from Northmodern in Copenhagen and I’m off to the Stockholm Furniture Fair on Monday. I can’t wait to do it all again!
You can buy Issue 1 of Fiera at Magculture here. I highly recommend you pick up a copy if you have an interest in contemporary design culture. Next up I will be interviewing Jeremy Leslie about his role in the publication.
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