Face Up: Seed
Issue: January/February 2009
Editor: Laura McNeil
Publishing Company: Seed Media Group, LLC
Creative: Outsourced to design firm 2x4, Inc.
Navigating complexity. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Africaâs Legacy. Is MIT obsolete? These, and close to 90 more phrases, influencers and questions, were part of Seedâs âThe Universe in 2009â cover as a method of conveying the ever-broadening role of science. âOur readers need to acknowledge that science has shaped the world and the way we approach things,â says Seed editor Laura McNeil.
Since 2006, this annual issue has historically seen a heavier type treatment coupled with a cover concept. This year, however, the all-text cover was a first. With help from design firm 2x4, Inc., Seed âresolved itself to a table of contents treatment,â says McNeil. Before passing it off to 2x4, Seedâs in-house team compiled the terms to create this jam-packed cover. The editorially-driven treatment allowed Seed to pay homage to its issues internal color-coded tags, as well as the Web concept.
Seedâs staff opted to keep the cover simple, vetoing the silver background highlights and multiple coverlines suggested by 2x4. While most covers aim solely for quality, Seedâs was partly about the quantity of terms. âWe wanted to convey that science has a broad perspective,â McNeil says. âOnce we included all of these names, pulled from the magazine content, and influencers, it amounted to the larger question,â she says, in the form of the single coverline: âScience Can Fix This.â
âAt first glance, the terms arenât obviously scientificÂâour coverlineâs goal was to clarify,â she says. To bolster McNeilâs point that science has shaped the world, copies of the magazine were distributed at the World Economic Forumâs annual meeting, âShaping the Post-Crisis World,â in Davos, Switzerland.
In response to this cover concept, McNeil cites reader reaction as an indignant approval. âThey agree with our concept, but asked, âWell, why donât people know this?! Of course science can help! Why are youÂ [Seed] the only ones saying this?ââ
âThere are many things I like about Seed. Its distinctive look is built around this axis and extended through the use of displaced vernacular typography, which references an earlier computer age. Itâs interesting to see its attempt to realize a cover through typographic form alone and without the support of the more conventional cover image. I want to like the results, but feel that if I compare it to others using the same approachâlike Wiredâs more dynamic, concept-driven typographic coversâSeed ultimately falls short. Its cover is brave, but it lacks conviction and finesse. It is not enough to simply break the rules: It has to be done with reason, purpose and invention.â
Phil Bicker | Creative Director | The Fader
âAn interesting cover concept, the executionâboth editorial and visualâfails to realize its potential. The use of the metallic 5th color is a nice element, as is the rainbow of color against it, but a dot-matrix font is kind of a clichĂ©. Without a stronger editorial message backing up the provocative main blurb, it leaves a reader scratching their heads as to what needs âfixing.â A more innovative approach to the contentâutilizing many of the design themes on this coverâis online, where the same content justifies the smart reputation of this science-cum-culture magazine.â
Robert Sugar | Creative Director | AURAS Design
Have a unique âcoverâ story? Contact FOLIO: Associate Editor Vanessa Voltolina.