Ricarda Messner and Caia Hagel are two intelligent women behind one of the most exciting publications – the Sofa Magazine. They work remotely, one of them based in Berlin and the other in Montreal, managing to put together volume after volume of the most hushed topics.
What is your collaboration process like working from different continents? How does working from different locations and timezones influence the way Sofa magazine is put together?
Ricarda: Since SOFA reflects our friendship dynamic, which is a breezy but also deep overseas friendship that we conduct through technology, it never occurred to us that it could be a problem, or at least we never had any discussion prior to launching the magazine, about whether being in different timezones would affect our work. So, from day one, a big ocean has physically separated us but it has never separated us in a mental way :) Sometimes I also feel like my day is longer than 24 hours because I live with another time zone in my mind. Of course a magazine making process requires some basic things such as copy checking etc but we are aware of each other’s rhythm and know when the other person can look into it or not. It’s also a good way to practice patience in our very instant world and communication pace :) Plus it is also inspiring and enriching because Caia infuses my afternoon mood with her dynamic when she's just waking up :)
Caia: Because of our geographical locations and the way we communicate digitally, SOFA is also a fusion of our take on Europe and North America, it's a product of the internet, it's a stream of consciousness that is always alive with our latest thoughts and the thoughts of all the people we feel inspired to work with - without the awkwardness or delays of 'physical time'. This is such a refreshing way to work, it's also really new, so we feel like we are trialling the future. The logistics of how we put each issue together feel light, even tho we are grappling with important subjects and a final product that is an object. We just chat like crazy and all kinds of ideas are circling and then it's like we capture them and print them in ink, still a little wild. We hope that by working this way we are able to be a raw, true source of the zeitgeist.
We hope that by working this way we are able to be a raw, true source of the zeitgeist.
How do you agree on a subject your next issue is going to be about, how do you divide the workload and how do you communicate with other collaborators?
Ricarda: The topics of SOFA reflect what we enjoy talking about. Before we put the first issue out we listed our favorite current/future topics and decided on the first four issue themes. We wanted the topics to float but also to vary from each other so that we are representing our mosaic world and globalized culture. The communication with the collaborators has been very smooth probably most importantly because we support their self-expression and point of view, even if we don't always agree with it.
Caia: Aside from the enjoyment of them, we also have a goal with our topic themes. Whether we are hosting a live SOFA talk [we animate public talks and panels as part of SOFA Universe] or working on the magazine, we want to explore them to the point of touching on what's taboo. So much of magazine life and entertainment culture in general is about what's safe and known, it doesn't break new ground or help culture evolve. SOFA is a pioneer, so we welcome young contributors and contributors with new ideas, daring approaches to older ideas, transformative spirits, outsider visions and things like that. We don't have a rigid system for how we divide the workload of getting all this together. We are pretty open, spontaneous and flexible.
What’s been the biggest challenge in putting together a magazine with such distinctive voice? And the biggest reward?
Ricarda: In general I feel like once you start putting a distinctive voice out „into the world“, people need some time to understand you. We love to laugh and also love to talk about rather dark things in our own light, provocative, imaginary way. So I assume some people might not always get it at first. It's a relationship you have with your reader, it takes a moment to create trust and get to know each other :) The biggest reward therefore is when people enjoy the way we talk about topics and issues and keep on buying all of the different SOFA issues.
Caia: SOFA is pretty fun and it already knows its own DNA, so being its founding editors feels more like hanging out than going to the office. I love working on this project with Ricarda, who is such a good friend, omg we laugh our heads off every single week, and with Michelle Phillips and Johannes Conrad, our Studio Yukiko designers, who are such spirited visual trailblazers. It's also super rewarding to discover new people, give them currency, and know that the voices we collect, with all their new visions, have the power to inspire people all over the world and co-create the future.