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BoF Exclusive | Robin Derrick Speaks to CSM's New Magazine, 1Granary

To mark the launch of 1Granary, a new title produced by the students of London's Central Saint Martins, BoF brings you an exclusive excerpt from the magazine's interview with creative director and Saint Martins alumnus Robin Derrick.
Robin Derrick with Kate Moss | Photo: Marc Quinn
  • Olya Kuryshchuk,
  • Ana Kinsella

LONDON, United Kingdom — After nearly a year of editorial planning and budgeting, interviews and photo shoots, the students at London's Central Saint Martins, one of the world's most highly-regarded art and fashion schools, have launched their own print magazine, 1Granary, named after the street address of the school's new King's Cross campus.

"We moved to the new building in Kings Cross in 2011 and I thought, 'Now is the time to do lots of new things within it.' It is a huge new chapter in the life of CSM and all the [school's academic] pathways are together for the first time, so we can collaborate together properly now. And that's what happened with 1 Granary. It's a natural reaction to the new building, to us all being under one roof at last," said the magazine's founder, Olya Kuryshchuk, in a statement.

To mark the launch of 1Granary, BoF brings you an exclusive excerpt from the magazine's interview with celebrated creative director and Saint Martins alumnus Robin Derrick, who cut his teeth in art direction at independent fashion magazines i-D and The Face before taking the creative reins at Condé Nast titles Glamour and, then, British Vogue. After 19 years at Vogue, Derrick joined a veritable exodus of top talent making the move from traditional publishing to commercial content, becoming executive creative director of Spring, a London-based studio complex and creative agency that helps clients like Giorgio Armani and Target develop multichannel communications campaigns.

In the following excerpt, Derrick speaks to Olya Kuryshchuk and Ana Kinsella, 1Granary's founder and editor, respectively, about his formative years at The Face, his current work at Spring and why he won't design another style magazine.

What was the reason you chose to work at The Face rather than i-D?

I chose The Face because I had already been on i-D for a couple of years. It was amazing, they gave me my first big break and I am incredibly affectionate towards them. It was simply a chance to do something else. Definitely a career choice not an aesthetic choice. Back in the day, they were very different camps. There was Blitz, i-D, The Face... in theory there was rivalry. I was one of the first to go from one magazine to another.

The truth is that it was all still very new. What people don't realise is that Nick Logan, who launched The Face, was the editor of the NME for some time during the punk movement. The NME was on black and white newspaper. Photographers decided to shoot colour pictures, although there was nowhere to put colour pictures of pop stars. The first issues of The Face included a large amount of content that was colour pictures of bands — you could have a colour picture of The Specials. It was just a picture with a caption, no need for an article because no one else was publishing it. There was 'Top of the Pops' but that was it. I moved to Milan a few years later to launch Elle magazine. I'd be welcomed with positive cries of "you worked for The Face!" We knew we worked for a cool magazine, but I had no idea of the effects. We had no idea of the repercussions. How people reacted was part of the work. The viewer completes the picture.

Do you feel that the same happens now when you work for Vogue or other magazines?

I do think that that is what happens now. Since those days I have done other things that were cool and spoken-about. What I liked most is that you could say stuff like, "Why not put Kylie Minogue in a champagne glass?" and a week later it would happen. There is a river going by of popular culture, and if you're working for a magazine or blog — any media — you are throwing stones into that river. Sometimes they make a splash, but the river will move on and ultimately so will everything else. When working for Vogue, in particular, my motivation was this: if I could make four great covers a year, that would be great.

What are you doing now? 

I'm currently working here at Spring Creative, a creative fashion and beauty agency. When I think, two years ago I was spending $6.5 million of Giorgio Armani's money every season to take 80 still pictures.... Now I'm talking to Zara about making daily content; the shift from seasonal campaigns to year-round media. Basically, we're an agency that works at the highest creative level and have invested a lot of money in creating the first global communications ad agency for fashion and beauty, which hasn't before existed.

I redesigned Harper's Bazaar in December. I didn't want to do another print magazine, but I ended up doing all the digital platforms too. They said it had to be in Didot font, which is the heritage font of the magazine, but what's really interesting for me is that I've designed the social media platform, the magazine and this e-commerce platform. What I'm doing with advertisers is that you shoot six pictures, put two of them in the print magazine and the rest online, sell them as a 'get the look' promotion and also have some films on YouTube.

Then you get a whole ecosystem of advertisement. It’s these multi-channel advertising campaigns that really interest me. I love the fact I’m making stills and films. I love the fact I get live feedback.

If you were to launch a new magazine tomorrow, what would it be about?

You can imagine I get asked to do magazines all the time. I think there have been five proposals this year. I haven’t yet had an idea that was good enough that I thought I should launch it. I’ve been close to it.

You know what I wouldn’t do? Launch another style, fashion or music magazine. If I see another independent magazine that is desperate for a Prada ad in it... please. Why? I love that the fashion industry has supported the new talent, but it seems to me that right now is the time to be political and global. And yet people are still launching style magazines and I do not understand it.

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