Seven Questions for Enrico Bossan and Erik Ravelo of Colors

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Colors, “a magazine about the rest of the world,” specializes in breaking down vast, global issues into people-sized stories powered by stunning imagery and design. Published by Benetton-owned Fabrica in four languages and sold in more than 40 countries, the magazine is helmed by editorial director Enrico Bossan (pictured above, at center) and creative director Erik Ravelo (at right, in a photo by Davide Bernardi). We asked Bossan and Ravelo about the production of their colorful quarterly, how they approach designing its three bilingual editions, and whether life at Fabrica’s Tadao Ando-designed headquarters is as utopian as it appears.

1. What is a typical day like at the Colors office?
Enrico Bossan: Colors is a quarterly magazine and therefore, every three months, we must face different phases and approaches: The first month is usually dedicated to the research of ideas, themes, news, photos, stories. The second phase is an executive one: the editorial team begins to write stories, take pictures, make interviews, travel all over the world. The third and final phase is dedicated to production: translations (three languages: Italian, French, and Spanish) and printing. At the same time, the research team starts to look for information for the following issue.

Erik Ravelo: It depends on the moment. Sometimes it can be a very quite day, sometimes it is a crazy and chaotic day, with people from different countries and cultures discussing together, exchanging ideas, and sometimes also fighting…

2. How do you come up with issue themes and story ideas?
ER: Everybody at Colors can propose themes and ideas. Sometimes the choice is contingent to a particular historic or social moment or it follows Benetton’s corporate communication strategies. For example, the money issue is one of the expressions of Africa Works, the new Benetton global communication campaign promoting the micro-credit programme of Birima, a Senegalese co-operative credit society founded by the singer Youssou N’Dour.

3. Colors is one of the few bilingual publications in which both languages feel fully integrated into the design (rather than one language seeming to function as the primary language and the other one as an afterthought). How do you achieve the magazine’s global look, feel, and content?
ER: Colors speaks a universal language, promoting the idea of a multiracial world where the meeting of different opinions, cultures and races generates richness. For this reason design must be in function of diversity, making the two languages be at the same level.

4. What is the last book that you read?
EB: Formidabili Quegli Anni by Mario Capanna.
ER: El Re de l’Habana by Pedro Joan Gutierrez.

5. Last film you saw?
EB: Chaos Calmo by Nanni Moretti.
ER: American Gansters (on the plane!)

6. What has been your best or most memorable design-related encounter?
ER: When I first got to know the Dada movement while I was studying at the Accademia Nacional de Bellas Artes S. Alejandro in L’Havana. It conceptually influenced a lot my future work.

7. Proudest design moment?
ER: When a friend of mine told me to have a look at an incredible image of an aged Marilyn Monroe (below) he found in the internet: I was the author of that image!

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