While on vacation in London last week, I spent some time at the Tate Modern museum marveling at their fantastic design shop. Out of all of the books, objects, and wares inhabiting their basement space, the kids department was the most inspiring. One of my favorite finds—even though it’s been around since 2006—was Anorak, a “happy mag” for kids. Founded by Cathy Olmedillas, who previously worked with seminal UK publications Sleazenation and The Face, the magazine is aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds, but it has plenty of poppy illustrations, games, cartoons, and stories to appeal to design-minded adults too.
Published five times a year, each issue is printed on recycled paper with vegetable ink. Aside from the smile-inducing cover, the paper stock itself is a draw; this isn’t a magazine you toss when you’re finished. It teaches kids (and maybe instills in the rest of us?) the value of both the printed word and the joy of tactile illustration. In the age of the iPad, which many parents rely on today, it’s refreshing to see Anorak keeping the printed children’s magazine alive. “It has at the core of its offering a passion for words and images that challenge and stimulate,” they enthuse on their website while also elaborating on the importance of teaching children the importance of their own voice.
The success of Anorak has allowed the magazine to expand and publish activity and coloring books too. They’ve also collaborated extensively with H&M on a series of activity-based advertisements as well as writing and drawing competitions for kids. Oh, and they have a TV show too! I highly suggest checking out their online shop and iTunes for the HAPPY TV series app. (Hi, iPad!) Anorak, as a whole, evokes a positive, modern, and design-minded change in the realm of children’s entertainment that I hope catches on in other countries.