Stack Awards: The making of this year’s awards

by Steve Watson in September 2016

The Stack Awards are approaching fast (deadline for entries is 7 October – don’t miss out!) and one of the most exciting parts of the whole process has been creating the actual awards themselves. Our Stack offices are in the Makerversity shared workspace at Somerset House, and as the name would suggest, we’re surrounded by small independent businesses that are really good at making things.

So for this year’s awards we’ve collaborated with product design company and fellow Makerversity residents Morrama, who helped us to come up with the prototype award you can see above.

The brief we gave them began with the idea that the awards are all about showcasing the best of the world’s independent publishing, and they took that as the inspiration for a design that literally showcases the winning magazines. You can see from the early sketches (below) that they started working up ways for the award to actually hold the winning magazines, and I love the idea of creating a sort of plinth for elevating the winning titles.


Each award will be custom made with a slot the exact width of the winning magazine, holding it snugly in place on an angle as though it’s being plucked from the shelf, as demonstrated with this mock-up using last year’s Magazine of the Year, The Gourmand (below).


We didn’t want anything too gaudy or showy – the Stack Awards aren’t about glitz and glamour, so we opted for plywood as a simple material that (like paper) can be elevated by what you put on it. But when using simple materials it’s essential to get a perfect finish, so Mike from Morrama headed off to the workshop to start preparing some real prototypes.


I love the way the layers of the plywood evoke the pages in a magazine, and by experimenting with different paints and varnishes, we’ve arrived at a combination that gives sharp, crisp lines and still allows the natural grain of the wood to show through.


I now have our first full prototype sitting on the shelf next to my desk, and Morrama have everything ready to make the real awards once we have our winners decided in November.

So if you’d like to see your magazine’s name on the front of one of these awards, head over to the Stack Awards page and check out the various different categories and their judges, then get your entries to us. Each entry costs just £30 because we wanted these awards to be open to all, and the judges will get to spend a whole month living with the shortlisted magazines, so they’ll really get to know them ahead of the judging day on 17 November.

All shortlisted publishers will be invited to our free party at the end of the judging day at the Ace Hotel on 17 November, and the winners will be revealed at the awards ceremony at The Book Club on 29 November. We’re looking forward to seeing your magazines!


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