Where is the cool?
In our performatively time-poor culture, the luxury of reading a whole magazine might be a distant memory. You probably don’t even have time to read this interview. Enter: Where Is The Cool?. An antidote to the long-form, this magazine gives us 21 deliciously concise little answers to that ridiculously expansive question. From the “covers of rare reggae vinyl”, to the “colourful world of pigeon racing”, they range from the predictably hip to the pleasurably surreal.
If you think this all sounds a bit affected, editor Laurent Laporte agrees with you. Where Is The Cool? opens with the knowing line: “Good question. Let this pretentious magazine give you the answer”. Beautifully written, every entry that follows is a little world unto itself. One of the most surprising is a pean to kitschy cookbook ‘French Tarts’, which ends with a reflection on analogue imagery: “They’ve become vintage, something we subconsciously associate to importance and sentimentality, both of which heighten what this book is really about — desire.” Moving easily between the contemplative and the tongue in cheek, it all makes for joyfully erratic reading: the penultimate pages in the magazine, for example, are dedicated to lava lamps.
We contacted Laurent so he could help us find the cool.
This magazine feels like an antidote to long-form journalism. Or maybe an antidote to long-windedness. Why did you choose to make the text so short and direct?
First, I don’t have the pretention to be a journalist, so I didn’t want to usurp the place of a real one. Also, I noticed that people don’t read that much today. It’s the problem of the coffee table magazine: you put it on your table and promise yourself that one day you are going to read it. That day never comes. So, I wanted to make something really short to hook people in. It’s quite satisfying when readers tell me they read the whole magazine in one hour.
What gave you the idea to make this magazine?
I founded this concept 10 years ago as a blog; two years ago on Instagram; and now, finally, paper. And paper is cool, that’s it. I believe in image digitization and online platforms, but I’m sure that nothing can replace paper’s ability to archive and keep a sensory connection. You can save all your photos on your computer but nothing can touch the feeling you get when you open a family photo album.
We love the way the magazine starts by calling itself pretentious. Is being pretentious underrated?
Haha, I don’t know! I think it was a good catchline, and a way of explaining to readers that this title can look pretentious, but we know it and we say it. Then it makes us less pretentious, right?
What is cool? Is it possible to define it?
For us it’s what is most authentic and noble in the world, without being necessarily refined or easily beautiful. It could be a luxury sweater, but it could also be a cheap restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It depends how they make the sweater, and what they put on the plate and why. Authenticity is very often linked to it.
You’re based in Paris. Be honest: is Paris cooler than the rest of the world?
Not at all. In my opinion, all the famous gentrified cities like Paris, New York and London get less cool every year. You can’t find interesting places when the rent prices are that high. Nobody can take risks there. It’s not surprising at all.
Are you sponsored by the brands you endorse in the magazine? If so, do you feel that compromises your decision making?
We don’t make ads for WITC, we don’t have ‘clients’; only collaborators that we choose and contact. Every picture of a branded item is taken exclusively for the magazine, to keep our vision safe. Also the brands we feature are cool and share our point of view. As somebody who used to work in advertising but doesn’t believe in it anymore, I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of about the magazine: that is presents interesting brands which make cool, ethical products. There is no difference between our articles and the sponsored pages in the magazine; we only work with brands that we believe in. We are creating an ecosystem where brands and culture are mixed together with no compromises. Advertising is dying and we are really happy to finish it off with this project.
How do you find the cool?
I’m actually finding subjects quite naturally today — our Instagram page is a very nice way to connect with artists, brands and people. So I guess finding the cool is the simplest part. The hardest part is convincing brands to collaborate with us. But it’s also the most exciting. Where Is The Cool? is about desire to catch all the ‘cool things’ that exist and have ever existed in the world, archive them and then most importantly, share them.