One of the most interesting magazines to have launched in the last year is The Simple Things – produced by Future Publishing in Bath. It is by no means a regionally focused title, however, as its arch reaches across the globe, with insights into people’s lives, homes, gardens, cooking and activities from all over the world.
Its premise is that simplicity is the key to happiness and harmony, suggesting thoughtful ways in which we could all live lives that are less complicated, fraught, frenetic and materialistic.
Future publishing is also the home stable of Mollie Makes, a phenomenally successful title that shows how to make and craft anything and everything, sewn, knitted, crocheted or created from paper, felt or beads. Its sister publication, Gathered, features even more projects from quilting to making bouquets, rugs, bags or jewellery.
The Simple Things magazine has honed into the home crafting, ecological, frugal and downshifting zeitgeist as an arrow hitting the bullseye, offering readers the alternative way of life many hanker after. In these recessionary times it has become chic and smart to be more considered, calm and careful. We are invited to be grateful, stand still, look, listen and learn.
For foodies and gardeners the editors Janet Meadowcroft and Jenny Dixon showcase bloggers, food writers, drink experts, cookery teachers and foragers who all excel in their specialist subjects. From what to eat for breakfast, to insightful new cookery and gardening or allotment books, salvaged kitchen finds, where to eat in the big city, the small town or the tiny village, homely recipes, wildflower gardens and family traditions, you are led into worlds you never knew existed. As a writer myself, it is an invaluable resource for research: sadly, their editorial team always get there first, and all you can do is look on in amazement at the vastness of their community and outreach.
Very cleverly, the magazine draws its sources and resources from the online world, from Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and Pinterest, finding the beautiful, the curated, the knowledgeable and, above all, the simple. Very tightly edited, the features are an introduction to people, skills, methodologies and activities, then, if the reader wants to delve further into the subject matter, they are referred to websites, Twitter handles or Facebook accounts by their own Blog or social media accounts. You can follow the followers, the experts and the new, up and coming writers.
The content of each edition is completely different from the one before, but the formatting and layout stays the same, affording a sense of familiarity, consistency and calmness. This theme is exemplified, also, on the back cover, where, every month, you can read a list of simple things from “being inside when it’s raining”, to “buying fruit in a brown paper bag”, “eating cake mix from the bowl”, “deadheading flowers” and “fish finger sandwiches”.
The main highlight, for me, is seeing which food expert is interviewed each month. From pasta making, to bread, charcuterie, slow food or cheeses, experts are asked to explain their craft, recipes, methods and preferences. The photography is clean, clear and fresh, the magazine showing you options and ideas but not thrusting an over-stylised, shop-bought lifestyle in your face.
The paper stock feels quite organic and tactile and use of lino cut illustrations and folk style artwork endpapers imbues the publication with an artisanal, indie and retro feel.
There came a point when magazines like Country Living and Country Homes had lost their way: far too much advertising, glossiness and repetition. Oh Comely seems too vague and aimed at a very young and trendy sector of the market, perhaps, and many food and garden magazines feature page after page of celebrities and passing food fads. The Simple Things is a firm rebuttal of preceding business models: it’s aimed at a broad church of readers, cooks, gardeners, crafters and shoppers who yearn for inspiration, information and education, on a budget, at a slow pace, with respect for both community and planet. A simple concept, well executed and much welcomed.
The Simple Things: www.thesimplethings.com
Follow on Twitter: @simplethingsmag