When so much of the magazine world is downsizing, streamlining, and multiplatforming, it’s something of a shock to see the first issue of The Illuminator. The twice-a-year German magazine, which bills itself as “the greatest magazine about light — in nature, culture, art, architecture and design” — is huge. (Its format was inspired by The Manipulator, which was published in Düsseldorf from 1982 to 1994.) At 27 inches tall and 19 inches wide, it’s not something you can stuff into a messenger bag. And forget the tablet app — it’s print only. But that’s the point. The Illuminator’s founders, Gerd Pfarré, a Munich lighting designer, and Frank Koschembar, a graphic designer who runs an ad agency in Frankfurt, want you to sit down (at a big table) and give the magazine “your undivided attention.” Which will be amply rewarded, if the first issue is any indication.
The cover story on bioluminescence is illustrated inside with full-page photographs of a glow-in-the-dark mushrooms and a fruit fly. An article on the Light and Space artist James Turrell features images of one of his installations; an interview with the lighting designer Ingo Maurer includes, among other things, a photo of his LED snowflake installed above the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York. A story on the artist Anne Kathrin Greiner features her photographs of German schools, which are suffused with a chilly, institutional light. But these articles are interspersed with arresting, full-page spreads of images that are there for the pure pleasure of what they say about light: a painting by the 17th-century master Georges de La Tour, for instance, or a photograph by Markus Kühne of a once grand, now crumbling interior.
These “visual and haptic” thrills, as Illuminator’s news release describes them, do not come cheap, as you might imagine: The magazine sells for 49 euros a copy, or almost $63. For more information, go tolightingpress.com.