Athenaeum recommends #1: Three magazines on rural life and nature
Find inspiration in the marshes of Chibayish and the magic of feathers
WDCD Live Amsterdam (on 23 & 24 May) will be all about climate change. Starting off a new series in which our bookshop partner Athenaeum recommends good reads, three new editions of magazines on nature are presented here.
By Reny van der Kamp
Nature is a constant source of inspiration for designers, and sometimes causes radical change in people’s lives and work. We chose three magazines that open up this source of inspiration for you.
At first sight Brownbook, presented as ’an urban guide to the Middle East’, doesn’t seem to fit in this row, until you know that #61 is dedicated to rural living. Brownbook brings ideas, news and stories of dedicated people. The central question in this issue is whether living a rural life is a better life?
Jassim Al Asadi, a poet and environmentalist from Iraq, certainly thinks so. He is dedicated to rebuild his home region Chibayish in the marshes, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, where reed is harvested and used for sustainable buildings.
We also read about the controversial building of the American University of Beirut, designed by the late Zaha Hadid, about a Lebanese artist-dentist couple that moved from the city to the countryside to start a plant nursery, and about a chemical scientist who worked as a tour guide and now runs her own small rural hotel in a tiny village in Turkey.
The magazine is beautifully photographed and designed, contains surprising inserts, and combines long stories, short newsflashes and in-depth interviews.
Two other, relatively new titles worth mentioning are Elementum and Rakesprogress.
Elementum is a journal of new writing and visual art that explores our connection to the natural world. The second edition considers the idea of ‘gap’. It talks about real and imagined islands, the owl, the shoreline as a metaphor for change, abandoned places at our doorstep, ancient grammar of the landscape, the magic of feathers and chronicles of the Anthropocene. Much to read and much to see – drawings and photography alike.
Rakesprogress – the progressive guide to gardens, plants, flowers #3 focusses on the seasons, how they influence us, and what our own role could and should be. ‘There’s lots of trees in this issue. But we also have houseplants and florists, birdsong and bothies. Ikebana and drystone walls. An interview with garden designer Piet Oudolf [a WDCD alumnus] and with slow-food-godfather Carl Honoré.’
Reny van der Kamp works at Athenaeum Boekhandel & Nieuwscentrum in Amsterdam