Jun. 22nd Introducing Shang—-the new Shangri La Hotels’ magazine
Update #3: Istanbul, Thursday, June 23, 17:39
TAKEAWAY: It was a extraordinary project for me and for Garcia Media, the type that you simply can’t refuse. Our assignment: to design the first ever magazine for the luxury Shangri La Hotels, with emphasis on Chinese language. As the magazine had never existed before, we had, at the start, carte blanche to create a product that guests would be proud not just to find in their rooms, but that they would want to take home. And so Shang was born. PLUS: Headed for Istanbul and the yearly +1T Newspaper Days conference
Luxury feel on every page
Above a variety of pages from the inaugural edition of Shang, the new magazine for guests of the Shangri La Hotels & Spas worldwide
As soon as I knew about our assignment to create the Shangri La Hotels‘ first ever magazine, in which Chinese language would be the primary one (with English as secondary), my first step was to engage that talented designer and art director, http://naileelum.com” title=“Nai Lee Lum”>Nai Lee Lum, to accompany me on the project. Nai brings with her a distinguished 25-year career with Fortune, among other publications, and, as a native of Hong Kong, wonderful knowledge of Chinese and the intricacies of selecting the right typography.
For Nai and me it was a marvelous start when we met in New York City, which is home to Nai, and had a mini workshop to brainstorm. We covered a table in front of us with everything you can imagine related to luxury brands, five-star hotel magazines, plus publications that we both liked, all in glossy paper, with spectacular photos and a look and feel that inspired readers of a casual publication not just to look, but to read as well.
AS a result of this workshop, our first sample pages emerged, with Nai carefully selecting Chinese language fonts that would reflect the elegance and uniqueness that the Shangri La Hotel management wanted to bring to its first ever magazine. Although the Shangri La Hotels are turning 40 this year (with this celebratory first issue), it had never published a guest magazine before.
I must admit that we had little to go on in the way of a briefing other than the simple: make it luxurious, tempt the readers to take the magazine home, provide an environment that approximates what the Shangri La Hotels are all about: an oasis of peace, tranquility. After all, the hotels take their name from a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. As a frequent guest of the Shangri La Hotels myself, especially in Hong Kong, I know first hand that each night guests find more than a chocolate on their pillow. In addition, there is always a book mark with a passage from the novel Lost Horizon, always inspiring meditation.
The magazine, we were told, must capture the spirit of the hotels.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to publish a magazine that not only sets new standards in Greater China, but in the world - for we have adopted a fresh new approach for a globally distributed hotel magazine. This would not be made possible without the help of Dr. Mario Garcia,“ says Sylvia Lee, Head of Marketing, who was project leader.
“The category of hotel magazines already sees a lot of high quality publications produced globally, and now, the Shang magazine has raised the bar even higher. We insist on making our contents relevant and insightful to our readers, and we furthermore introduced a unique design concept that works magically for our bi-lingual publication. We are not the first to use both the English and Chinese languages, yet to allow the bi-lingual types flow so spontaneously and naturally, with the types becoming part of the graphics, we are probably the first. It certainly brings out the beauty of the Chinese language, and this makes us so very proud. Again, this is all credited to Mario’s wonderful design concept.The client is very happy to see the end product clearly delivering a high value to their hotel guests, and they look forward to working with us to ensure the Shang magazine continues to outstand,“ Lee said.
For Nai and me, the first challenge was the accommodating of the two languages: Chinese and English.
However, notice, that our strategy is to present a key headline word in English, with the summary for that headline in Chinese. This is, more than a side by side translation, at least at the headline level, a parallel use of the two languages.
The grid used is very strict, mostly two columns, with white space choreographed as a key in our grid composition.
The moment I saw the first sample pages (shown below) and the beauty of the Chinese calligraphy, I was fascinated by the character of each letter—- art, for sure. Nai would play with color and type as well, going for solid gold in some letters, and explaining to me that in Chinese, one character says a lot about what the words mean, from sadness to happiness, for example. We soon decided that white space would be our companion on this interesting journey.
A magazine that will be read by guests at luxury hotels and spas worldwide should not overwhelm with visuals. As I walk through the large rooms and hallways of Shangri La Hotels, I always get the feeling of openness, that oasis that Shangri La, as in the novel, is all about. We tried to bring that spirit to the pages of Shang.
At the moment, Shang appears ONLY as a printed magazine to be distributed at all Shangri La Hotels.
Here is how Nai Lee Lum describes her experience and her choices for Chiinese font:
Working with Sylvia’s team was a real Shangri-La experience. They kept our idea alive and enhanced it.Contents are pure love with righteousness. The fun part of the project was selecting fonts.There is a difference between Chinese and English language fonts.Chinese font does not have x-height, uppercase and lowercase as in English. The structure of these standards will need your design skill to have your mission accomplished.I chose Song style as one of the headline fonts, simple, modern, dignified and elegant. A reasonable thickness of strokes, eye-catching and easy to read. Founder-shaped structure tends to be more plump, smooth focus, Chinese and Western culture have a more perfect match.
Our early prototypes
Here we show the early prototypes that established the guidelines for the concept:
Very early mock up of pages so that Nai and I would lay the foundations for the look and feel of Shang (which was not named at the time)
Dealing with the specifics of style
These are assorted pages from our Shang styleguide, with very specific details as to storytelling, spacing, grids, typography and color.
I am preparing my presentations as I participate, for the second consecutive year, in a well organized and interesting seminar in Istanbul.
The +1T Newspaper Design Days is sponsored by Turkey’s daily newspaper, Zaman. This will be the sixth edition of the +1T Newspaper Days program.
According to Fevzi Yazici, design director of Zaman, this program is especially designed for design students, to attract them to the world of visual journalism. However, professional journalists and designers also participate in the event.
“Our +1T Newspaper Days program is based on the idea that art (design) students and journalim students have to come together to get best newspaper design. So Zaman’s design staff organized this event to give future newspaper students an opportunity to accomplish this mission.“
This year program includes presentations by well known Turkish journalists. In addition: photographers Reza, George Georgiou, Vanessa Winship; Infographics artist ,Jeff Goertzen, of the Denver Post.
The seminar runs for 8 days June 21-
The seminar takes place at the Zaman’s hearquarters in Istanbul.
The title of my presentations are:
For print: Survival in the times of the iPad and Beyond
iPad :Creating that news app that is uniquely special
For more information:
TheMarioBlog post 791
Posted by Dr. Mario R. Garcia on June 22, 2011
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Dr. Mario R. Garcia
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