The 22-year-old designer talks her new project, Omnibus.
One of the very best parts of my job is exploring, archiving, and talking to Cool People Making Cool Projects, especially across the fashion editorial landscape. A few weeks ago, I came across Martina Dorgan's viral thesis on Editorial Design, Omnibus — 1/2 a throwback to the era of glossy magazines, 1/2 a new experiment in editorial archaeology.
I sat down with Dorgan, a 22-year-old design student in Argentina, to talk all about Omnibus, Byung-Chul Han, and the future of physical media.
SB: What drew you to exploring the landscape of editorial design as a fully-fledged thesis?
MD: Choosing a thesis topic in Graphic Design [wasn't] a walk in the park. It's a field so diverse, ranging that picking just one specialty can feel overwhelming. For me, it was a mix of challenge and instinct. Ever since I was little, I've been captivated by the world of magazines and books—the way words and images dance together on the page, creating this beautiful flow. I even created my own travel magazine for my peers in primary school. Therefore, deciding on an editorial project for my Graphic Design thesis was a conscious decision.
Today's world doesn't always appreciate tangible things the way it used to, and this shift only ignited my passion further. I wanted to craft something entirely new, something that stands out in a world dominated by technology, yet serves as a reminder of what remains in our hands: time and knowledge.
SB: I love that. And with tangibility in mind — how do you see the physicality of a magazine influencing the reader's experience differently than digital platforms?
MD: In the words of philosopher Byung-Chul Han from his book Non-things: “A book has a fate insofar as it is a thing, a possession. It carries material marks that give it a history. An e-book is not a thing, but information.” There's a certain destiny intertwined with owning material things —sometimes, it feels like the object chooses you as much as you choose it.
Magazines, in my opinion, share this fascinating quality. They're repositories of information and creativity, akin to the digital sphere, yet they possess a tangible quality. When you hold a magazine, it's more than data on a screen; it's something you physically possess. You can touch it, see it, smell it—your senses become part of the experience. Even the texture of the paper under your fingertips adds layers of information, influencing how you perceive the content within.
SB: What magazines/titles have had the biggest influence on your personal design sensibilities?
MD: Publications like i-D, Interview, and Purple have always been a wellspring of inspiration for me. Yet, what's truly fascinating is how unexpected places often offer the most profound inspiration. As a designer, I believe in the importance of losing oneself in bookstores or magazine kiosks, exploring every editorial gem that catches our eye—yes, even those tiny pamphlets at the counter.
Additionally, I can't overlook the impact of publications like Mastermind, Glamcult, Dummy, and The Face. They all hold a special place in my heart and have been immensely influential in shaping my thesis.
SB: Were there any unexpected sources of inspiration that played a role in shaping Omnibus?
MD: My goal for this project is to give back what the High Fashion Twitter community — a space where I found the freedom to express myself while connecting with incredibly talented individuals. Having been an active part of this community since 2016, I've witnessed an abundance of untapped talent, often overlooked and underappreciated. It became clear that I had to create something meaningful for all of them.
While I draw inspiration from various sources, my greatest influencers are undoubtedly my Twitter mutuals and closest internet friends. My dream is to provide them with a platform to exhibit their creative works — a space where their talents can truly shine.
SB: The tactile experience of flipping through a magazine is so dear to me. How did you consider the physical interaction readers would have with Omnibus, and what emotions or responses were you aiming to evoke?
MD: The challenge lay in crafting a product that embraced these evolving dynamics. I realized that following the traditional magazine format wasn't the route to take. While the resurgence of magazines is fantastic, I sensed the need for an evolution — a bridge between traditional print and the newer generations and technologies.
I had to create something compelling yet cost-effective, so I delved into contemporary trends. It became evident that fanzines were experiencing a revival because handmade creations were also on the rise.
I wanted something genuine, something that mirrors my thoughts. Omnibus isn't your typical magazine; it's a single large sheet folded sixteen times. My aim? To ignite curiosity in readers about what lies within, what’s tucked inside — and to make each page resemble an art piece, a poster that could hang on any wall.
SB: How do you hope this project evolves?
MD: Fingers crossed I'll actually graduate first! But realistically, I don't think this project can go beyond the academic scope. I'm focusing on four issues of Omnibus, developing both the magazine's branding and communication strategies for my final project. Due to its nature as part of my college coursework, I won't be able to launch it as a live venture or monetize it. Nonetheless, my genuine hope is that it becomes a source of inspiration for fellow students and creators.
SB: We've both spoken online about print magazines being on the crest of a resurgence. What do you hope the future of magazines looks like?
MD: While I'm hopeful that magazines will continue to thrive, the truth is we must evolve them to suit this new reality. A prevalent issue in many publications today is the absence of strong editorial design. There's a noticeable absence of visual intrigue and creative exploration.
Historically, magazines have served as playgrounds for innovative design. Today, some publications are attempting to convey information without the power of graphic design — a fundamental element. It's time to revisit the roots, study the works of designers like Bea Feitler and David Carson, reexamine the significance of design in storytelling, and explore the endless possibilities within the pages of print.
SB: The last (and obviously most important) question I have is: what would your dream magazine look like?
MD: In my vision, my dream magazine resembles a bustling kids' classroom, adorned with papers, scribbles, rough sketches, and a multitude of ideas all collated into one vibrant space. It's not just a source of information but the ultimate wellspring of inspiration. 🌀
You can follow Martina's work here.