For the ninth time in its 155-year history, The Atlantic is getting a facelift. The magazine’s March issue will mark the debut of a redesign overseen by creative director Darhil Crooks, who previously lent his design talents to Ebony and Esquire before joining The Atlantic in August. (According to editor in chief James Bennet, he’s also “kind of a genius.”)
From the cover layout to section headers, Crooks gave the magazine a bolder, more modern look. He created a new Poseidon colophon (a logo that is an image of Poseidon) to use between sections, which he modeled after recurring images he found in the magazine’s archives. “I was looking for something as a marker in the timeline of the Atlantic, something that would signify that it was a new Atlantic,” he said. “I thought the best way to do that was to bring something from the past and carry it into the future.”
He even managed to tweak the logo—the one part of the magazine that Bennet had asked to remain untouched. (Luckily, Bennet was pleased with the results—especially the change from a lowercase to uppercase “T”.)
The redesign wasn’t strictly superficial. The content of the magazine has also been reorganized. “There were some editorial and structural changes that needed to be made, as far as helping the reader kind of navigate and differentiate between sections,” explained Crooks. The previously scattered culture content was pulled into a new front-of-book section called The Culture File, while Dispatches was streamlined.
Articles in the feature well (like this month's cover story about robotics in the medical field), which had relied on a text-heavy, formatted template, are now individually designed to complement the articles' content. Additional sidebars and graphics make for an easier browsing experience. “Design-wise, my goal was to create something more accessible for the reader—something that had lots of entry points,” said Crooks. “Obviously, we still care about longform journalism, but there’s something to be said about a magazine that is scannable, that someone can put down and pick up again later.”
Writers from The Atlantic’s Web properties—The Atlantic Wire and The Atlantic Cities—will also be making more appearances in the print magazine’s pages, said Bennet. “We’ve been lucky to work with a lot of great freelancers over the years, but part of this process was looking around and realizing why aren’t we actually using our flagship magazine to show off what our existing, awesome staff is capable of,” he said, pointing out the Wordplay column by Wire writer Jen Doll.
Following the big overhaul, Crooks said he wants to keep evolving the magazine’s design. “I don’t think that magazines in general should start settling into templates and looks. I know a lot of magazines have success with that, but as a designer, that’s boring to me.”