25 may mmxii
An interview with the editors of The Travel Almanac, Paul Kominek and John Roberts
I was recently reading an essay on the work of furniture maker Gustav Stickley. The author, Mark Taylor, commented that Stickley was making “a return to the symbolism of form.” I was struck by this idea that objects have symbolic meaning beyond their decoration and utilitarian purpose. Their materials and modes of construction represent something on their own. I think this is one of the reasons for the current popularity of thoughtfully and artfully produced publications like The Travel Almanac.
Digital and disposable print media abounds. There is a feeling of delight when I encounter the tangible beauty of a magazine like The Travel Almanac; it’s treated like a book, with beautiful paper, binding, and actual cover stock on the cover. The forms of these publications represent something bigger; something slower; craftsmanship; longevity; the ability for this object to survive the passage of time.
Doris and I also experienced a feeling of delight when The Travel Almanac’s editors, designers, and creators, Paul Kominek and John Roberts, answered some questions for DOMAHOKA.
In the introductory letter to issue No. 1, they explain: There is no publication available that explores traveling and temporary habitation for an increasingly sophisticated and mobilized generation of travelers.
Paul and John have created just such a publication. We’re excited to present to you our interview with them.
Mark: We noticed that you are not only the editors but also the creative directors and designers of the The Travel Almanac. Are you both designers as well as writers by trade? And was the aesthetic and design concept of the Almanac as much of an impetus for its creation as the core editorial concept?
The Travel Almanac: Neither of us are writers or designers by trade, but we have had mild flirtations with both fields in the past, working briefly for other publications some years ago. In regard to design, we are mostly self-taught, save some spotty art school education. The aesthetic of the publication was quite important to us and we spent about a year developing it initially before we started working on our first issue.
M: What were some of your inspirations for the design and layout of the Almanac?
TA: Before designing the Almanac we tried to examine our favorite books, older travel literature, and magazines to attempt to create a publication that functioned somewhere in-between the aforementioned forms. We really wanted to create a periodical that was not only worth buying but worth keeping and collecting. In regard to the layout, we both appreciate simplicity in design and have always tried to remember to make choices based on necessity rather than purely aesthetic reasons.
M: If you were in the unfortunate position of having to choose one place to live and never leave, where would you choose?
TA: At the moment we might choose New York City, which seems to offer plenty of everything depending on one’s mood.
M: When you’re at home in Berlin, what are some of your favorite places to go and things to do?
TA: We have a relatively focused existence when we are in Berlin. We usually spend our time working on/researching for the Almanac and then driving to a handful of restaurants for lunch and dinner in our recently acquired 1984 Saab “company car.” We like the drive from Mitte to Charlottenburg along the Tiergarten, so we often visit Calcutta—the first Indian restaurant in Berlin, Paris Bar—an interesting French place for people watching, and a dilapidated Vietnamese restaurant on the border of Wilmersdorf.
M: What are your worst traveling horror stories, fears, or pet peeves?
TA: We’ve both fostered an intense fear of flying in the past, but those worries have thankfully mostly dissipated in recent times.
M: How do you decide who you’ll feature in the Almanac? David Lynch and Kazu Makino are our absolute favorites at the moment.
TA: They are two of our favorites as well! We have a wish list of prospective interviewees that we draw from for each issue in an attempt to create a varied and dynamic collection of contributors.
M: If you were flown to a hidden, magical destination where a table is set for eight (including you both), who would you hope to have arrive for dinner? What delicious foods would be served?
TA: We would probably hope that only two close friends showed up, as neither of us are such fans of large groups. It would be nice if the dinner was catered by Sukiyabashi Jiro.
M: Packing gives us anxiety. What tried and true items do you bring with you on say, a quick five day adventure in New York City?
TA: We think that packing lightly really helps to relieve anxiety. A change of clothes and a good défatigant eye-creme are our only essentials for brief trips.
M: We’re so excited for issue No. 3! When does it hit newsstands? Can you give us any hints as to what to expect in the next issue?
TA: Thank you, that’s so nice to hear! Issue No. 3 is currently available through our website, as well as in finer boutiques, booksellers, and newsstands worldwide. This issue features actor Udo Kier, designer Rick Owens, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, artist Norbert Bisky, fashion designer Tsumori Chisato, writer Jay McInerney, and a photo series shot in Pingyao, China.
words Mark Ho-Kane
image Paul and John, courtesy of The Travel Almanac
image Doris Ho-Kane
images Mark Ho-Kane (3, 4, 5, 6)
image 1984 SAAB 900 in Maelstrom, 1985
image Gustav Stickley - His Craft by A. Patricia Bartinique