The talented Matthew Alderman made a comment on my post about redesigning the layout of First Things . He had some good ideas, but along the way, he mentioned one of the all-time great designs for a magazine: the art-nouveau journal Ver Sacrum from the late 1890s:

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And it reminded me of an idea I’ve long had for a magazine’s design—had and rejected, but still burnished, from time to time, in that corner of the heart reserved for treasured but unworkable ideas.

Wouldn’t it be fun to vary the cover and the interior design from issue to issue, with each issue recreating—without irony—some classic and iconic moment in magazine graphics?

So, for instance, one issue that is all Ver Sacrum & art nouveau:

ver sacrum2-thumb

and another that is all old Galaxy sci-fi & Weird Tales :

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and another that is all the cool elegance of early 1960s Look & Life :

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and another that is pure Punch :

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and so on.

Of course, you can’t actually sell magazines doing this. Conventional wisdom says, and probably rightly, that if there isn’t considerable visual continuity from issue to issue, no one subscribes: If readers can’t tell that it’s the same magazine as last month’s, then it isn’t the same magazine.

Ah, well.

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