Black magazine mixes beauty and brains with new digital properties

Black, “an international fashion, beauty, arts and culture magazine published from New Zealand for the people of the world”, has long featured beautiful people in its pages. And after launching a new responsive website and digital magazine, it can now do justice to those beautiful people online.  

Not surprisingly, given the subject matter of the magazine and its focus on the aesthetic, it’s one very good looking website, as evidenced by the fact that it made it through to the finalists list in the website category at the 93rd annual Art Directors Club in New York recently. But it’s got brains as well as beauty, says Union Digital’s managing director Matt Townsend. 

“The opportunity to work with such a style icon as Black, while intimidating, was a great chance to challenge the design thinking within Union, and bring some creative leadership to a truly exciting and highly visible project,” says Townsend. “More than anything the hero of Black is the content. Beautifully large imagery, purposefully disjointed masonry, and the use of white space to let everything breathe has helped to showcase the incredible imagery in the magazine.”

Townsend says the site, which, like the LA Times’ recent redesign, features infinite scrolling on the home page, makes use of Azure’s CDN to ensure the large images could be served quickly and efficiently to the diverse global audience without the additional load you would normally see on a website of this type.

“The true magic for us was in working with a client with a great vision who wanted to truly collaborate,” he says. “It gave us to opportunity to find a seamless balance of smart web technology and beautiful style.”

Founded by Grant Fell and Rachael Churchward in 2006, and created by teams of contributors in New Zealand, Australia, New York, London and Paris, Black Magazine is printed twice a year in April and September and it recently published its 21st issue with Tyra Banks on the coverBut, like many modern magazine brands, it’s less about paper and more about creating a community; “a vision of the world expressed through the creativity of its creators and contributors across a multi-media platform”.

Fell couldn’t be contacted, but, as it says on the website: “We will still publish two big, beautiful printed issues of Black Magazine each year. That will never change as we LOVE the smell of ink on paper, we love everything that represents and will move toward a more beautiful book bi-annually than ever. With well over 100k followers online we are very aware of not only our friends and followers, but what they want from an online publication and site … Here you can download a pdf version for free or go to a free online version via Issuu. We chose pdf as an option because many of our contributors, advertising partners and readers like to share images from Black so now you can download the pdf file – at around 90mb – and share, extract, do what you like with it really! Roll your cursor over text and credits, there are a number of links, shop now and pre-order items that will take you to our partner’s pages [in the Issuu version].” 

The magazine is also increasingly venturing into the video space and a BLK.TV section is included on the new site.  

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