Surface (magazine)

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Editor-in-Chief Spencer Bailey
CEO Marc Lotenberg
Categories architecture, design, fashion
Frequency 10 times/year
Year founded 1993
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English
ISSN 1091-806X

Surface magazine is an American publication covering design, architecture, fashion, culture and travel.[1][2][3] A branch of Surface Media, the magazine is published 10 times a year.[4] The magazine reports its readership[clarification needed] at 450,000.[5][6]


Early years[edit]

Surface was founded in 1993 by Richard Klein and Riley Johndonnell. The magazine was based in San Francisco until 2005, when the main offices were relocated to New York City.[5]

In 1994, Surface was called one of 10 magazines as “upstart magazines to watch” by Vanity Fair.[7]

In 1997, Surface introduced its inaugural Avant Guardian issue, which focused on the Avant Guardian Awards, a fashion photography competition. Winners went on to work for fashion houses like Giorgio Armani, Hermès, Banana Republic, Nike, IBM and Levi's—as well as magazines like Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, and The New York Times Magazine.[7][8][9] Leaders in fashion and design industries would select 10 finalists to have their work featured in a fashion spread and at a launch event.[8][9] For several years, the competition was expanded to include designers. Between 2011 and 2013, the Avant Guardian was on hiatus, but was revived again in 2014 and 2015, these times again only for photographers.[10] The 15th and final Avant Guardian issue was published in October 2015.[5]

In 2009, the publication was acquired by Quadra Media. [11] In 2011, Surface was sold to Sandow Media.[12][13]

After 2012 acquisition[edit]

In 2012, Surface magazine was acquired by Eric Crown, co-founder and current chairman emeritus of the Arizona-based company Insight Enterprises. Surface Media LLC was formed in 2014.

Under CEO Marc Lotenberg and editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey, Surface Media has launched new ventures, including Design Dialogues and Surface Studios, and Surface remains a voice in the design industry.[14]

With the June/July 2013 issue—Bailey’s first as editor—Surface unveiled a major design overhaul created in partnership with the consultancy Noë & Associates.[15] Contributing editors to join during Bailey’s first year at the helm included Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Bettina Korek, an arts advocate, writer, and the founder of ForYourArt; and architect and designer David Rockwell.

The November 2013 issue featured Julian Schnabel saying, “I find less and less that I care if people understand me . . . I didn’t want to do this interview, but I did it because if people are interested in your work, then you should support them.”[16] In the June/July 2014 issue, real estate developer Aby Rosen called Tom Wolfe a “buffoon.”[17] In the June/July 2016 issue, former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair wrote for Surface about how the media handles lies.[18]

In 2013 Surface launched Design Dialogue talk series in which editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey discusses design topics with featured international designers and brands.[19]

In February 2015, Surface announced its partnership with the nonprofit membership organization, Art Directors Club. Through this partnership, ADC helps build Surface’s creative team.[20]

In 2015, editor in chief Spencer Bailey stated that as part of the magazine's redesign plans, new columns would be added to the magazine, focusing on the craftsmanship of fashion and design equally. These new columns include Detail, which looks at garment and textile detail; Taste, in which a thought leader shares a current personal interest; How Its Made, which is set to replace the yearly issue of the same name; Executive, in which an executive discusses the convergence of business and creativity; and Dialogue, a conversation between two creatives.[14] In February 2016, Surface released its first Builders Issue, which focuses on real estate development and architecture.[14]


Surface hosts events throughout the year including art events during Art Basel in Miami, Power 100 List celebrations, design events during NYC x Design, and VIP dinners.[6]

Surface Online[edit]

The publication has an online presence through the Surface 7 biweekly newsletter, as well as through social media.[6]


  1. ^ Purple. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  2. ^ McDowell, Maghan (August 3, 2015). "Surface Magazine Increases Fashion Content". WWD. Retrieved August 24, 2016. 
  3. ^ Gould, Jennifer. "Surface holds celeb-filled shindig for $36M Bal Harbour digs". New York Post. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  4. ^ About Us/
  5. ^ a b c Sutton, Kelsey (October 2, 2015). "Surface Magazine to launch travel agency, shutter Avant Guardian issue". Politico Media. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c "Media Kit". SURFACE. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Beneath the surface / San Francisco design zine, now 10, has spread influence far and wide and enjoyed a surge of interest for its innovative approach". SFGate. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "The 12th Annual Avant Guardian Project by Surface magazine | Yatzer". Yatzer. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "About Avant Guardian". SURFACE. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  10. ^ Giermann, Holly. (April 27, 2015) Surface Magazine Launches 15th Annual Avant Guardian Photography Contest. ArchDaily. Retrieved August 10, 2016]
  11. ^ Cook, Geoff. (June 25, 2009). “Interview with Riley Johndonnel, pt. 1”. Base Now. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  12. ^ (June 27, 2011). “Sandow Acquires Events International And Introduces A New Series Of Unique Interactive Luxury Experiences”. Sandow. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  13. ^ (April 11, 2011). “Sandow acquires Surface Magazine, creates China editions”. The Editor at Large. Retrieved August 16, 2016]
  14. ^ a b c Politico Media Staff. (August 10, 2015). “The 60-second interview: Spencer Bailey, editor in chief of Surface magazine” Politico Media. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  15. ^ (June, 2015). “Two Years Surface Magazine” Noë & Associates. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  16. ^ Page Six Team, (October 21, 2013) “Julian Schnabel to have first large-scale art show since ’87”. Page Six. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  17. ^ Mohr, Ian. (June 3, 2014) “Aby Rosen blasts Tom Wolfe as ‘a buffoon’”. Page Six. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  18. ^ Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara. (June 2, 2016). “Notorious New York Times Fabulist Jayson Blair Resurfaces at Surface Mag”. Observer. Retrieved August 10, 2016
  19. ^ "Design Dialogues". SURFACE. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  20. ^ "ADC Announces Partnership with Surface Magazine". ADC • Global Awards & Club. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 

External links[edit]