There’s something about magazine racks that I just can’t resist and judging by the number of styles available to buy I am not the only one.
Yet the whole purpose of the magazine rack has been under threat as the printed word battles to keep its place against its arch-enemy – digital media. Fashion ideas, design and gossip leaps out to us within seconds of the event on our mobile devices and celebrities are instantly followed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook; yet the magazine lives on. Peek around the next corner and someone else is bringing out an uber-cool magazine about Peruvian Cuisine, the best Mongolian Wines to accompany the dish and in which tree-top eco-resort you should sample such delights. Magazines are holding their ground, working hard on quality content and striking images – the competition has only forced them to sharpen their pencils.
So just what is it about the magazine rack that means it still has a place in our sitting room?
Firstly, and almost most importantly, it’s the size. It’s hard to think of an item that’s smaller yet can still be categorised as furniture. They are the size of the family pet, sitting proudly in a corner or under a lamp as a four-legged companion might do. If you were that way inclined, they are small enough and light enough to be taken on the bus for a seaside excursion, or taken on a flight as hand luggage (which one of my customers did) – a tricky thing to do with your average coffee table. They resemble scale models of an architectural structure, tiny pocket-sized buildings sitting proudly in the shadow of your sofa. And unlike the bookcase and bookshelf, they don’t need to be pushed and secured permanently against a wall, the magazine rack can be plonked centre stage in a room, and effortlessly shifted to new, more convenient corner location (my Farleigh Magazine Rack comes complete with a carry handle for just this purpose).
So where did the magazine rack originate? It’s hard to say for sure, but the best bet is the ‘Canterbury’. A piece of furniture built originally in the Regency period (the early 1800’s) to hold sheet music. It was a natural progression for this to move onto holding magazines and newspapers. The Victorians then developed it further into an over-ornate style only the Victorians can achieve. Although the real classics, in my view, first emerged in the mid 20th century, with the Scandi cool designs, and then onto into the mass-produced wire frame holders we see a lot of today. My biggest complaint about these designs, however, is their inability to hold the magazines upright, they tend to end up slumped in a concave heap in the middle. The magazine rack has one job to do; it may as well do it well.
My first tentative attempt at magazine holder was over 20 years ago when I designed and made a bench with a subtle dip on one side, with the intended purpose of holding newspapers or magazines. It wasn’t until 2017 that I finally knuckled down and designed my own proper version of a magazine rack which would go on to become the Farleigh.
It is my love of these items that meant I probably spent too much time thinking and developing the design. The aim was to design a miniature piece of architecture that would properly hold magazines, newspapers, books and even vinyl, yet still be small, with heaps of character and attitude. I didn’t want the form to scream out modern design, but aimed for a piece to be timeless, something that will remain beautiful and showcase that it’s been individually handcrafted from solid wood to last generations.
My aim is that it will last as long as magazines exist – which will hopefully be for, at least, the foreseeable future…
The Farleigh Magazine Rack is available in Ash, Oak, Walnut and Cherry. Prices start from £149.00 including delivery to the UK & Ireland.