On the Intelligent Life

The only magazine I subscribe to is the Economist’s Intelligent Life, its so-called lifestyle quarterly.

Intelligent Life’s stories and articles are about the most interesting, wonderful and, in some cases it has to be said, just-a-bit weird things. Some of my favourites have been an interview with Philip Pullman, an article about the strange world of Japanese robot culture and how many button holes a decent suit will possess. I will never forget the article about the difficult subject of how much inheritance you should leave your child. Around a million: enough that they will never go hungry, but too little for them to loose their drive.

The photographs are one of the best parts of the magazine, but unfortunately the online version of the magazine does not show them. You can get a taste in an extract from a curious photo essay about the fantastic and beautiful beds people create to sleep in.

Above the articles and writing, the design and typography is superb, each and every page feeling crafted. The paper is heavy, making the magazine feel tome-like in your hands. Headlines scrawl elegantly across the page, merging into article bodies. Callouts are separated from main text by alternating a serif and sans-serif face, removing need for intrusive lines and heavy-handed use of white-space. The sheer power a designer wields over words and pictures when presented in print is used to the full.

Part of the attraction is a glance into another world, a world where articles telling you of the best cheese or chocolate shops in Paris, New York, London or Milan mean something more than dreaming of cheeses and chocolates. It feels audacious to be reading a piece about the meeting of couture and surrealism, or the nuances of the female tuxedo, and therein lies the appeal. The magazine is a perfect, fascinating piece of escapism.

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