Open Sesame is a Beijing-based magazine that presents China as seen via Taobao, the world’s biggest online shopping platform. The pleasure of this magazine is two-fold: first, there’s the curiosity of seeing Taobao presented with the magazine’s characteristic warmth and humour; cultural quirks like facemasks for dogs or Christian flip flops are weird oddities that hint at the strange foreignness of life in China. But then there’s also the uncanny familiarity that shows this strange world is of course also our own, just bigger, more efficient, and more advanced. Here in the UK we’re so used to thinking of Amazon as the Big Bad of retail that it’s somehow refreshing to realise there’s actually a much Bigger Bad out there.
Open Sesame’s tone is so mischievous that encountering this big baddie never gets too depressing. This issue perfects what the magazine has done so well in the past: pointing out the absurdities of contemporary life as seen through the frantic, hyper-commercialised world of Taobao.
Creative Director of Lava Beijing
What is Open Sesame?
Open Sesame is a magazine devoted to the weird and wonderful world of Taobao.
What makes it different to the rest?
I don’t know if it’s different from the rest. Most independent magazines have a very unique angle and style, so does Open Sesame.
Who makes Open Sesame?
Sasha Fominskaya and Lava Beijing.
Who reads it?
Mainly people in China I think, who are familiar with Taobao. We know Jack Ma has a copy.
Why do you work in magazines?
Because it’s great and liberating to have a project where you get to decide everything, without clients involved.
Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
All kinds of graphic design projects all over China. Find lava_beijing on Instagram to see our latest work. And opensesame_magazine of course for weird Taobao finds.
What would you change about Open Sesame if you could?
More in-depth articles. More text, less images.
Where do you see Hamam in five years?
In bookstores all over the world.
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