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How an In-Flight Magazine Made Magic From a Tiny Norwegian Archipelago

Apr 27, 2014 12:00 pm

Skift Take

Airline in-flight magazines produce some of the best travel writing and photography. Luckily, for those who can’t afford to fly every airline every month, it’s almost always free via PDFs and other downloads.

— Jason Clampet

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Spread from the May 2014 issue of N by Norwegian.

Spread from the May 2014 issue of N by Norwegian.

Spread from the May 2014 issue of N by Norwegian.

Spread from the May 2014 issue of N by Norwegian.

Spread from the May 2014 issue of N by Norwegian.

Now I was lucky enough to be given the heads up by Andrew Humphreys, the Editorial Director of my old company Ink Global, about a project the company had successfully completed for their client Norwegian Airlines.

When Design Director at Ink, I championed out-of-the-box thinking and it’s this kind of project (currently onboard Norwegian), where an editorial team, a sales team and an established photographer go on a field trip, that can yield phenomenal results in the field of publishing.

“It might seem a little singular to devote 30 pages to one destination, but then Svalbard is a unique and fascinating place and somewhere very few people have ever been (and are ever likely to go). There is a precedent here in magazines like Boat, which devotes each entire issue to one city – and Boat, incidentally, is one of the magazines featured in a story on the new independent travel mag scene that also runs in May’s N by Norwegian.” Andrew concludes on the cover story of the latest issue of the monthly magazine.

“The 30 pages are not just one story, of course, but a multitude of stories. We are introduced to a cross-section of Svalbard residents including mariners, miners, hostel queens and the go-to guy for polar bears.” Mr Humphreys continues, “We visit a Russian mining town that was abandoned in a single day in 1998; Spitsbergen’s northernmost cabin where fresh water comes courtesy of a nearby glacier; and discover a wasteland composed of the bones of 550 Beluga whales.

We eat smoked whale and reindeer sausage, travel by dog sled and have a crafty fag in an old bus converted into a smoking room. It’s not just one destination, it’s a whole other world.”

Whilst Rickard Westin, Art Director of the magazine isn’t exactly a novice in the Scandinavian world (originally designing excellent ‘outdoors’ magazines from the region), he brings a contemporary, fresh and well balanced design to the magazine. It feels on point. With a grid structure that allows for freedom in layouts, and his adapt hand that screams ‘less is more’ lets the beautiful images (shot by Tim E White) in this mammoth in-depth journalistic piece, speak volumes. The infographics used add a subtle depth, which work in harmony with the design of the piece.

It really is nice to see magazines – especially in-flight magazines – pushing the envelope in design and concept. It’s an issue like this, that whilst being a wonderful gem, help re-enforce the argument that inflight magazines should always be in print. If this issue doesn’t win an award, we’d be surprised.

The May issue will be available on Ink Global’s N by Norwegian page soon.

Read more about airlines, airports, and design at TheDesignAir, a Skift content partner. 

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