For the newest issue of Tissue Magazine [TISSUE N. 5], we are blessed to present a conversation with the mastermind behind 032c, Joerg Koch. With a strong background in DIY Culture, Koch inspires to just go for it rahter than passively ruminating a possible formula for success. His stimulating observations about business seem to be on a meta-level, but only at a first glance. A closer look shows conclusions which can be appplied to general aspects throughout life. Enjoy!
You probably got asked this a lot, but why 032c? What's the story behind the name?
Joerg Koch: When we started the magazine, we really wanted to link ourselves to early German modernism of the 1950's. You know, like Ulmer Hochschule fur Gestaltung, and then later on Dieter Rams at Braun, and so on - that kind of really forward thinking aspect of German design. They had these products, for instance, and it wasn't branding, it was a systematic apporach to life, culture and design. So that was one thing, atmospherically speaking. And then we realized that the Pantone colour system is actually quite beautiful as a system of understanding. It's an abstract number code, but with a very specific meaning. A graphic designer in Japan, or a product desinger in America, or I, we all know exactly what colour is referenced. It was a very international system that we wanted to tap into. We wanted to be international, and yet have a relation to where we are published. It was a very abstract motivation from our side.
What is the everyday struggle of being Editor-in-Chief of 032c?
I think I wouldn't use terms like "struggle." It's a very privileged, fun thing to do. I really see it as a privilege because it enables you to do exactly what you want to do, and you can work with good people, and you get paid for it. I think we have a fantastic team here in the office now. So it's a big pleasure. Of course, there are all these politics now involved with the magazine - advertisement, working with photographers, working with fashion brands, etc. - but, at the end of the day, we can come up with anything and start producing, and that's quite wonderful.
How did the Internet affect the rise of 032c?
When I moved to Berlin in 1995, I did an internship with this premiere multi-media agency here. I was already on the net, on CompuServe, etc., and we started doing web magazines. I was really in the new economy before I dropped out. So when we started the magazine, I was really deeply involved with the Internet already. For me, 032c was always like a post-digital publication. When we started the magazine, we wanted to have a website. It wasn't a print nostalgia thing. The methods of working are still the same. It wasn't like going from a typewriter to a computer. Everything was already digital; everything was already produced and organized over the Internet.
You once said in an interview that you wanted to create a magazine that was sexy and gefahrlich, (German: dangerous). What do you mean by dangerous?
Dangerous in the sense of something that refers to the idea of freedom, that there is a certain recklessness, a certain sense of dangerous ideas being propagated. Not for the sense of provocation or anything like that, but just putting it out there and being there and doing it.
What are the most important things you've learned thus far as the editor-in-chief of 032c?
I think the most important thing is to really learn how to say "no." It's more important to say "no" than "yes," and doing that in a polite way. I think it's important to have a very clear identity and understanding of your work. When you're tempted to do so many things, on so many levels, it's quite important to be aware of what your limits are. Editing is like a sequence of yes, no, yes, no. It's a very binary thing.
It's a miracle to me how you create the "best magazine in the world" as the New York Times once called it. What's the secret?
There's no secret, it's very transparent. What you see is what you get. But let's boil it down now: It's very important to go step by step and focus on quality. Great contributors attract other great contributors so never lower your expectations or ambitions.
How do you see the future of 032c?
The idea with 032c is that it's a lifestyle proposal. The wonderful thing is that "lifestyle" is such a dirty word that it really turns us on to use it. It's definitely a proposal that works beyond the print magazine. So, soon we'll be offering clothes, we'll have a store. It could also be about real estate development, or a renovation with a building. Or it could be a political campaign for something --- it doesn't have to be commercial all the time, of course. That's the kind of scope of what's possible with 032c, and that's what we have always said, and it sounded completely crazy. For me, the period is now defining 032c, and that comes back to the whole notion of being sexy and dangerous.