Timbuktu Magazine

Timbuktu Magazine, Olimpia Zagnoli

Timbuktu is the first iPad based magazine specifically designed for children. The magazine combines imagination and technology to engage youngsters in news and stories centered around interesting topics. With a bold and brave graphic style and clear and focused interaction design, Timbuktu is on the cutting edge of educating kids in a fun and informative way.

Art Director Olimpia Zagnoli, whose work we’ve featured previously on the site, chats with us today about her latest project, giving us insight to her new role as well as some juicy tidbits about the magazine.

Where did the name Timbuktu come from?
Timbuktu is the title of a book by Paul Auster. Timbuktu is a place everyone has heard of but only a few know exactly where to find it. Timbuktu is a name that usually indicates something remote and unknown, unreachable by definition.

Instead it’s a place that really exists! It’s in the desert of Mali and now it’s also on the iPad!

Timbuktu Magazine, Olimpia Zagnoli

On It’s Nice That, you mentioned discussing being the Art Director of Timbuktu with Editor-in-Chief Elena Favilli and Creative Director Francesca Cavallo over tea and cake, which sounds fantastic. What are some of your favorite aspects of your role thus far?
I have to say I love this role. I’ve always worked on the other side before, so this was a new thing for me. Elena and Francesca gave me total free rein, so I was able to play with a few ideas I had in mind and take them further together with Graphic Designer Francesco Ceccarelli at Bunker Studio. I like to put things together nicely, so this was a good exercise for me. Having the opportunity to work with designers and illustrators from all over the world was a real honour and a very energizing experience.

What artists can we expect to see in the first issue?
For this issue we called artists from San Francisco, New Delhi, Milan, Lisbon, Berlin and Barcelona. They belong to different fields of art as theater, fine art, photography, illustration or motion graphics but they all created something especially addressed to kids. You will find Planeta Tangerina, Massimo Caccia, Jan Von Holleben, and many more.

Timbuktu Magazine, Olimpia Zagnoli

What can kids look forward to in this as well as future issues of Timbuktu?
They can expect a digital magazine with visually stunning content and intuitive interaction design. They can expect a place where they can cultivate their curiosity and strengths. Plus, they can expect to get in contact with everyday news told in a very surprising way. News is usually considered something belonging only to adults, something too serious and important for children to care about. We think instead that what happens everyday in the world actually matters to them and has a great potential as an instrument for growth and comprehension. Children are not only interested in dragons and princesses but also enjoy exercising their boundless imaginations as a means to know and understand the world around them.

Timbuktu‘s first issue is about ice. Can you share any stories or memories about the cool subject?
When I think of ice, I immediately visualize popsicles. It may sound silly, but I think that’s what inspired me to look for the unexpected colors through the issue.

I asked the same question to Elena Favilli, and she answered, “When I think of ice, the first thing that comes to my mind is the beginning of One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It goes like this – ‘Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.'”


A big thanks to Olimpia for taking the time to chat with us today. To find out more about Timbuktu, check out the video below and visit their website. Also, be sure to download the magazine for your iPad (for free!) and follow their Twitter!

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