Pinholet : engaging a community

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Stared by a small team of Parisian (Timothée Kaplan and Mélanie Ren), Pinholet magazine is published by gathering a community of artists / artisans and creating a beautiful advert-free printed chef d'oeuvre to enjoy. Interview with editor Timothée Kaplan.

Baron: How did Pinholet came to be?
Pinholet:
Our process is all about getting together with people who use their environment to create interesting, unexpected things, whether it's about engaging a community, building a better neighbourhood or making your own things. Each issue of Pinholet is set in a new creative residence, and with this in mind, I think we’re trying to be more honest, bringing a sense of intimacy in our relationships with the readers and contributors. We don't consider ourselves journalists or entrepreneurs, but rather fellows aspiring to collaborate with distinctive thinkers and makers. For instance, we spent a month gathering materials in Hong Kong for our debut issue, and the process was more about getting to know inspiring, like-minded creators than interviewing acclaimed artists or decision makers. We uncovered stories about a designer who’s also an urban farmer and a beekeeper, a collective trying to revive an old letterpress workshop, an expat who’s been exploring all kinds of remote islands in Hong Kong. These seemingly unrelated stories are the kind of smaller ideas that shape a sense of place and a community.

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B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
P.: Each issue of Pinholet is divided between ideas, conversations and smaller interludes featuring various photo essays and recommendations. We try to remain as honest and accessible as possible while telling the less obvious local stories. Scratching beyond the surface of a place is challenging at first, but once we feel welcomed within a small community, we come to understand this place in a much deeper and gratifying way. There’s more to Hong Kong than its glazing skyscrapers and busy neighbourhoods. The way people interact with their environment, involve their community and use their local culture to be creative fascinates us.

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B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why? Typography?
P.: Given the essence of the project, we knew it had to be something you could touch, feel and use on your own. While we do have a presence on the Internet, we feel that only a physical object can translate our experiences and gather momentum across a community. We created a simple layout based on the specifications of a coffee table book, while using a smaller, easy-to-use size. In terms of typography, we chose to use the beautiful Galaxie Copernicus by Kris Sowersby for almost all texts. The whole thing has been printed in France on premium Olin Cream paper.

B.: What has been the readers’ response?
P.: We’ve received many amazing comments since we launched the first issue! We’re truly amazed that such a small-scale, self-distributed project got into the hands of people all other the world. We’ve also attracted the attention of many retailers who understand the project very well, and the local response in Hong Kong has been very encouraging as well. We feel that we’ve been doing something valuable for the local community, by exploring the other side of this city, we uncovered an original, upbeat mindset that is not often featured, even to locals.

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B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales. How are you doing, financially?
P.: We believe that adverts just wouldn’t fit in Pinholet, and by all means, advertisers wouldn’t be interested in such publication! However, we plan on collaborating with local communities on original products when the opportunity arises. For instance, local illustrator Anna Gleeson, also editor of a small zine in Hong Kong, released the English-version of an interview we published in French in the first issue. That’s the kind of very local collaborations we’re looking for.

B.: Are there future projects in the works?
P.: In addition to focusing on getting the word out about what we do, we’re currently working on some new ideas, including a very special thing. In the same way as we started Pinholet, we feel free from the constraints imposed by a publishing structure. We’re more about an experience than a simple magazine. As such, we believe that we can do almost anything, as long as we keep the same ideas, values and a distinct local, community-driven spirit.

A selection of songs to accompany your reading of Issue No. 1. Click here to listen on Spotify.

pinholet.com