Apartamento Magazine Interview
Talking print with EIC Marco Velardi
To call Apartamento an interiors magazine seems like an understatement, it is a look into the lives of some of the worlds most fascinating creatives, their incredible homes just happen to help tell the story. The bi-annual is an interesting beast, started with no set plan as to how it would grow, no stringent rules in terms of content or subjects, however the magazine has grown organically and been going from strength to strength since it's launch in 2008, with no end in sight. In a world where magazines are going under left, right and centre, maybe it's the unpretentious attitude of both it's staff and readers that is the true secret to Apartamento's success. Editor in Chief, Marco Velardi was kind enough to speak with me about the magazine, it's growth and the future of print as a medium.
Megan Christiansen: So what was the reason for starting Apartamento? Did you see a gap in the market at the time?
Marco Velardi: Nacho and Omar came up with the name and then together we came up with how we would put some editorial, interviews etc together. We didn't really look to fill a need, it was an idea and the idea grew organically from that. Of course there was an understanding that there was no similar magazine around at the time, but we didn't sit down an write a business plan and say there is a gap in the market, we are going to fill it and in 5 years we will be selling this many copies. We were actually shitting ourselves when the first issue came out and we had 5000 copies printed and we didn't know what to do with them! The business plan was always to just take things one step at a time.
MC: So what do you think sets Apartmento apart from other interior or design magazines?
MV: It's funny because we initially put ourselves into that category of interiors, but now we are more about interiors and people. If you look at a normal interior or design magazine it is really about products, there is very little about people. They will have interviews with designers and architects etc but there are very few mainstream magazines that talk about real people, they are about spaces, objects and details. People was really a turning point for us.
MC: The interiors you shoot are always lived in, you can feel the person that inhabits them, they aren't stark, clean and perfect like other magazines. Was that always the intention or has that style grown organically?
MV: To be honest we do feature interiors that are perfect, that I think are perfect, but it's a matter of taste. How you tell the story really defines the way you view the space I think. Imperfection is part of real life, you always look at a person for what they do not just their house however it is a good showcase of what the person is thinking about. It's not about hiding or deleting, it's about human occupation and I think that's the most important thing for us to show.
MC: I was wondering how you actually find and source the homes you feature in each issue?
MV: Sometimes we want to interview someone and we contact them directly, sometimes we read about someone in a magazine or newspaper that has something interesting to say and we see what their house looks like, sometimes we aren't interested in their spaces but sometimes it ends up being better then we could have expected. It's just about opening the door. Also after 5 years, people understand what the magazine is about and they propose people to us. We don't have any pre-conceptions about how things should be done, it doesn't matter where it comes from if you enjoy the story thats the most important part.
MC: I just wanted to talk about print as a medium for a minute. There's this attitude of "print is dead/dying," what's your take on it? So you think print is dying?
MV: Of course there are many reasons why people think digital is going to take over, it's ecologically sustainable, distribution can be easier etc. Apartamento was born as a printed magazine and I think it will always stay that way, if we end up doing something digital it will probably be something else, it doesn't have to be the magazine on a screen. Most people talk about it's dying but it's kind of like saying there will be flying cars in the future, I just don't know. Nowadays it's actually much easier to print, printers are much more willing to do small runs, they are much more open to the artistic or special projects. So in a way it's much easier to get your publication out and push it via the web, but I really can't tell if print is dying. I actually think it's becoming a joke in a way, not to say the question is a joke because we discuss it all the time, but within the circle of young creative people it's been talked about so much that it's becoming a bit of a joke…we should just get on with it you know. If it dies, it dies and then we will move on.
MC: Every issue of the magazine keeps getting better, how do you keep upping our game creatively and editorial wise?
MV: It's kind if like falling in love, maybe it's with an artist, a writer, or a specific movement. We can't pretend to know everything about design or art, but every-time we do the magazine one thing will lead to another and that keeps making us curious to discover something else. There's also just an endless opportunity with what we do, most people live in a house and a lot of people have an interesting story to tell. Editorial wise we develop ideas, we look back on the issues, at the spaces, what the people did and try to build on that in different ways. Also every issue is different because there may be a predominance of apartments, there might be archive images, family pictures, collaborations, so it feels different each time.
MC: Is there anyone in the design or interior world at the moment that you think people should be following?
MV: Max Lamb, we did a book with him and he is a great designer and artist, we really like his work. I would say he is an interesting person to keep an eye on. During Milan design week we were talking about the amounts of pictures he took in China recording this project and we ended up creating a book to showcase them because we thought it was fascinating to share with people who weren't there.
MC: Finally, what are three things you can't live without?
MV: Umm I'm going to be romantic here, if I don't say my girlfriend for the first one she will kill me! (laughs) Then my family, then I guess I can't live without my apartment. That's very Italian isn't it…girlfriend, family, apartment!