How to find hidden treasures in travel, literature or art? That remains the main question.
There are publications that make this kind of discovery their mission. They exist to say “look at this”, “read this”, “go here instead”. But they are, by their nature, niche. Even the best of them (The Paris Review, The New York Review of Books, Atlas Obscura), are often cited, discussed, but not widely read.
This is where paper airplanes come in. The website was launched in 2014 as a source of niche, independent magazines from around the world. Founder Nupur Joshi, 41, a former lawyer, sources magazines such as The Paris Review (a quarterly literary magazine published in the US), Cabana (a bi-annual interior and decorative arts magazine published in Italy) and Monocle (a global affair). and lifestyle magazine from New York), for subscribers.
The company initially offered curation, sending customers surprise magazines based on their stated interests. Eventually, it evolved into an e-store where readers could purchase individual issues or annual subscriptions to titles.
In the midst of her curating, meanwhile, Joshi Thanx was intrigued by the idea of creating a magazine of her own, which would focus on how design informs everyday life. His target readership will be non-designers and non-architects; Anyone, like him, with an interest in the subject.
Earlier this month, Paper Plane magazine won the Webby People’s Voice Award, India’s first Webby in the magazine category. The Webbs were launched in 1996 by the New York-based International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences to honor excellence in the Internet, in various categories. Publications like The New York Times, Washington Post and National Public Radio have won Webbys over the years.
“The win vindicates the direction we are taking with the publication,” says Joshi in thanks. “We’ve waited a long time for the right opportunities to come our way. Now the publication is getting the recognition we think it deserves.”
Paper planes are free. This is partially offset by income from the company’s creative agency, which was launched in 2021. In its current form (the digital magazine was launched in 2018 and redesigned in December 2021), Paper Plane offers one hyper-focused story a week, and one web-comic strip each month.
The story series, features local attractions, architectural marvels from across India, explained in articles that explore their history and cultural contexts along with photographs. Here, one can find stories about the origins of the terracotta horses scattered in the sacred groves of Bankura in West Bengal, the 19th-century blue and white azulejos (or hand-painted, glazed ceramic tiles) in Goa’s Central Library. , or the colonial influence on the temples of Kamathipura in Mumbai (some have Indo-Saracenic arches reminiscent of the earlier Victoria terminus).
The comic series, Thinking Aloud, “was conceived as a way for us to introduce our readers to the work of visual artists from across India, giving them a chance to tell stories,” says editorial director Fabiola Montero, 29. Slice-of-life web comics by independent artists like Dinesh Pashupathirajan, Sabari Venu, and Samidha Gunjal feature serious issues like family life, the struggles of adulthood, and post-partum body-shaming.
“A lot of these stories are incredibly personal, like talking to parents about queerness, or what it was like to graduate online during the pandemic,” Joshi says thanks. “And since the idea is to introduce readers to new artists, we’ve tried to work with a new artist each time.”
Authors are also drawn from a wide and diverse pool of qualifications, and include local municipal officials, architecture and design students, conservation architects, type designers, photographers and filmmakers.
The idea is to make local attractions double as sources of travel. “When people are travelling, they pay more attention to design and architecture,” says Joshi thanks. “Whether they’re traveling to discover their own cities, or different cities, for business or pleasure, when people roll down their windows and look around.”
what now Perhaps reviving the offline events held under the Oddly Enough banner. “Each quarter we invite people from different disciplines to talk about how design informs their world,” Joshi says thanks. “All in all, I think we’ve really found a sweet spot in creating opportunities. Things are looking good right now, even though it’s always going to be a challenge for media to survive.”
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