Marcus Piper: Art Director, POL OXYGEN
Piper single-handedly has put POL Oxygen on the global map with how he innovatively tailors the design of each issue, and each story, to the content that is being presented.
Piper and POL Oxygen keep racking up design awards like the frequent-flier miles he is amassing by flying between the magazine’s Sydney, Australia, headquarters and Piper’s new home in London.
The quarterly that covers art, architecture and design garnered a number of Folio:’s top awards this year, including Best Cover and Best Use of Typography. The Society of Publication Designers in New York awarded Piper’s work a silver medal in 2004 and another in 2005.
"My strategy has been to let the content of the magazine do the work," says the 30-year-old native Australian. "We are covering beautiful buildings, beautiful photography, and all that kind of amazing stuff. So I try to come up with a platform for the content to do its work and to bring it together in a unified way." Piper says his early training as an industrial designer helps him to "look at the magazine as an overall product, rather than at just the graphics. Production values are very high."
There’s a die-cut "O" in "Oxygen" on the cover of each issue, for example. A recent story was typical of Piper’s holistic design treatment: For a piece on Hella Jongerious, a leading Dutch product and industrial designer, Piper lifted the pattern in a carpet that Jongerious had designed for a European manufacturer. Then he ran an almost invisible clear varnish of the intricate pattern over the entire story. The key to the package’s design, Piper explains, literally wasn’t on the page.
More remarkable is that POL Oxygen manages its visual achievements on a very tight budget, even for a small magazine. The book has a full-time editorial staff of three, including Piper, and leverages a tight budget on freelance writing and photography. "We stretch it," Piper says, "pretty far."
VITAL STATS: This Australian magazine’s circulation is just 20,000, but winning award after award for its design flair proves just how much a publication can accomplish even with scant resources.