Redesigning Foreign Policy

Redesigning Foreign Policy
The team from Foreign Policy continues to wow us with their innovative covers and approach to the modern news magazine.   Recently the team in Washington, D.C., lead by Creative Director Lindsay Ballant with the help of designer Margaret Swart revamped the magazine to better reflect its new direction.   Lindsay fills us in and gives us a peek into the creation of the new design...

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Foreign Policy, a magazine devoted to news, politics, and ideas, hasn't had a proper redesign since 2000, when it moved from a journal format to a glossy news magazine. With this in mind, over the summer of 2014 a small group of editors and art directors concepted a new vision for the magazine, which, while keeping the highest quality of journalism throughout the years, had since lost its identity and needed to redefine its core. Our mission: what does Foreign Policy of the future look like?

The changes start with the cover of the debut issue, where a simple, powerful, black and white image addresses the theme of climate change. Most noticeably, however, may be what's not on the cover: cover lines, which we didn't feel was necessary in an image that speaks without words. Each issue has three distinct sections, announced by openers, or single-page "splash pages"--the front of book section, Sightlines, which gives a quick read to a variety of issues using easy-to-digest formats: infographics, brief explainers, conversational writing. The feature section will have a theme every issue, and is introduced by a brief editor's note to give context. Observation Deck, our back of book section, is where you'll find opinion and analysis from various vantage points. 

Flipping through the rest of the pages you'll find a commitment to a stronger visual presence, in both form and content--wider margins and white space allow both image and text to breathe. A cohesive type direction and the red, black, white and gray color palette straddles the line between modern and classic. Most importantly, though, are the introduction of new departments such as "Visual Statement" and "Aperture"--where artists and photographers are invited not only to be accompaniment for the written word, but they are authors themselves, giving them equal billing with edit. 

To strengthen the cohesiveness and pacing of the issue, the new FP introduces section openers to organize the magazine: Sightlines, the front of book section, the Features, which introduces the issue's theme and provides space for a brief note by the editors, and Observation Deck at the back of book. Additionally, these pages serve as visual platforms while teasing the content: Sightlines has an artist interpret a compelling quote from one of the authors in the section, while Observation Deck has an artist create their interpretation of a map based off the locations mentioned in the section. (click images for larger view)


The new department is an evolution FP's old of "Anthropology of an Idea", which discussed the origins of a topic in the news with a timeline format. With "Decoder", an idea in the news will be broken down and "decoded" using a variety of infographic formats, depending on what best fits the given topic. (click images for larger view)


A return to the 2-page TOC allows more breathing room per page, and the ability to showcase an image from one of the feature stories in large format. (click images for larger view)
We ask a fixer--the embedded local who navigates journalists through a city--to show us what to see, do, and experience in their locale, and a little insight into their best and worst experiences with journalists themselves.  (click images for larger view)
One of the departments we kept from the previous lineup, the Things They Carried gets a refresh--a more organized page layout allows the images to be free of any overlapping text, and a "bento-box" like approach allows more control over the design composition and placement, creating a more integrated marriage with the text.  (click images for larger view)

A sharper, more poignant package for the think pieces which have been a pillar of FP's 45-year existence, a revamped column design gives organization and more breathing room for denser content.

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Creative Director Josef Reyes (formerly AD of Wired) and Art Director Ed Johnson are the current creative team.   Check out Lindsay's redesign and their new work in the updated FP today!
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