It was 2011 when Steve Daniels came up with the idea of creating a magazine highlighting grassroots creativity and everyday’s invention around the world. The magazine would share stories of people who don’t have big resources, showcasing how creativity grows everywhere around the world if you know where to look. As Steve sat together with the two partners of Rifle, Santos Henarejos and Gema Navarro to discuss the idea of the new magazine, the project immediately inspired them. Engineer, designer, and product manager, as well as founder of a design-oriented conference and former IBM researcher, Steve Daniels wanted to focus on innovation in “environments of scarcity”. Counting on a team of editors and contributors based in more than 15 countries, Steve was eager to spread these stories around the world.
Each thematic issue of Makeshift explores a topic of interest such as creative solutions to transportation, technology-empowered revolutions, communication in the age of hacking, among others. The first issue focuses on “re-culture”: it delves into the idea of not just recycling goods but reusing them to create entirely new products. It was the beginning of a great journey: the team grew and after more than two years working on the project, it had gained a lot of experience as well as a great synergy in between all the members. Four issues per year received a deserved attention from all over the world, so the project needed to broaden its horizons too.
More than two years had passed since the first number and it was then the turn of reconstructing the chapters and rethinking the magazine from the core. The redesign was the center of an overall relaunch operation that led to a printed magazine with a new format as well as a brand-new online platform and presence. The new web experience allowed Makeshift readers from all over the world to enjoy the hidden creativity of the featured stories, both with the content of the online platform and with the possibility of having the magazine available as a digital subscription.
On the other side, the printed magazine’s redesign followed the concept of the field guide, with a smaller format and more space given to graphics and illustrations. Also, the magazine’s navigation system was rethought as a modular system, in order to make the magazine structure’s clearer as well as allowing more flexibility to add further information. For the relaunch issue —which happened to be entitled the “Navigation Issue”— was structured into three chapters with personalised icons: “Local Hunts,” “Global Treks” and “Inner Quests.” Clearface designed by Morris Fuller Benton with the collaboration of his father Linn Boyd Benton, produced at American Type Founders and the P22 Underground by P22 Type Foundry was kept as the corporate typefaces and as the common denominators for all issues of the magazine, accompanied with a carefully selected colour palette for each issue.
Makeshift didn’t want to get involved in ordinary advertising anymore. The team felt the urge to try and change how advertising normally works within printed magazines, moving away from this approach of breaking up articles with brand promotions and offers. A conceptual redesign of the advertising approach led Makeshift to keep promoting brands, but in a new way: instead of scattering the publication with one or two page ads from many companies, the new publication features only advertising in the central spreads, from only trusted partners and only designed by the internal team. Such a radical change, oriented towards partners who want to link their brand to the values of Makeshift rather than having the primary aim of reaching the highest number of consumers.