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The Only “Trunk” You Need to Have and to Give This Holiday Season… The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with David Cicconi, Founder of Trunk magazine

December 20, 2010

What happens when three creative magazine people put their energy and creativity in one trunk? Trunk magazine is born. The new magazine with the tagline “The World is a Fine Place,” is more than a welcomed addition to the world of magazines and media. It is the best gift that I, or anyone who shares my interest in the magazine, photography or design worlds, will find as a “wowing” ending for the 2010 and a “wowing” beginning for 2011. The best way to end a year and ring in the new year.

The “wowing” team behind Trunk is led by David Cicconi, the former photo director at Travel + Leisure.

“Trunk, in short, does what print was made to do,” Founder and Creative Director David Cicconi told me. “It is pure inspiration, with long reads and stunning images, for a demographic that embraces travel as a lifestyle. It will not compete with the internet: no lists. It will not talk down to its readers with travel tips: no articles through the eyes of locals or ex-pats. Our readers already know how to travel. It is simply a collection, issue after issue, of the most compelling and fascinating stories we could find around the world–nothing more… or less.”

“Trunk advertisers and controlled distribution for the debut issue are a testament to our niche,” Cicconi added. “The magazine was distributed at all Thompson Hotels, at Kartell, Swatch, Flight 001, Temperley of London, select Balazs properties, Emirates Airline lounges, Levis, Project No. 8, and many other similar travel, fashion and design venues. It can also be found (albeit sparingly) in locations in Paris, Milan, Rome, Berlin, London and Copenhagen.”

I had the opportunity to ask David few questions regarding this beautiful and inspiring magazine. What follows is the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with David Cicconi, founder and creative director of Trunk.

Samir Husni: Why Trunk and Why Now?

David Cicconi: Though it may not look like it or read like it, Trunk is a travel magazine. We see it as the only travel title occupying the Monocle / Wallpaper space. Much like these titles, Trunk is for an audience that leads an international lifestyle–people who embrace travel as a way of life rather than a break from life (or who at least have the curiosity and desire to do so). This is what makes Trunk unique–that it approaches travel as lifestyle and not merely a twice a year vacation. Nor are we about “how to travel like a local” or packing tips. Our readers know how to do this. They’re worldly, savvy, stylish and are just looking for inspiration and what to explore next.

Existing travel magazines are for a different audience and don’t offer content or an aesthetic consistent with the sensibility of the Trunk reader. Trunk’s mission is to showcase the most fascinating stories from around the world with as much style, originality and wit as we can muster. It also targets the very media professionals who produce it: writers, photographers, designers, etc. If we can please them with the results, then the general public is going to love what Trunk has to offer. We want to convey to our readers that same privilege and access to a culture/place/topic that our contributors experience on an assignment. As such, in the pages of Trunk it is the norm to find a 16-pg fashion spread with notes/backstory from the team behind it; or editorially, more beautiful and daring reads, including personal essays and fiction. We believe these types of stories paint a compelling picture of their setting and inspire readers to make a trip just as much or more so than a traditional travel narrative.

So “why Trunk?” It is the only magazine in its genre that does what it does and caters to this audience. And “why now?” This is a growing and influential niche in an ever-globalizing world. We’re doing it now because it’s a good idea and no one else has tapped this demographic by addressing (in an appropriate way) the very key to their mobile lifestyle: travel.

SH: You’ve launched both in print and online? What are you doing to ensure a print future for Trunk in a digital age?

DC: The short answer is that we have a more rudimentary site up right now. Over the next several issues, a full-blown website and iPad version / mobile app will become key components of the brand. But everything that I mentioned above–16-page photo essays, long reads, etc–is for the print medium. We’re surprised that travel magazines are moving more towards service and facts and lists, when that is exactly what the internet will always do much better and faster than any other medium.

Trunk, the print publication, will endure because, one, it does what print was meant to do and two it is the face of a larger lifestyle brand that will extend into TV, retail, branding, digital media, and beyond. The magazine is, in essence, the ultimate marketing tool and the principal aggregator of all content that will power the rest of the brand. It provides the inspiration, while the brand’s other extensions provide its audience with the facility and access to realize and attain whatever it is they read in the pages of Trunk. As such, the magazine is an indispensable element of the brand. Without it, how would we draw people in, motivate them to utilize Trunk’s other products and what would these products be offering without the original print content?

SH: The folks behind Trunk seem to have come from some very established magazines. Why is the reason for departure and what are they betting on this new launch?

DC: Our respective departures from our respective employers happened well before the launch of Trunk (some five+ years ago for all of us) and were for personal reasons to pursue a more freelance career. I moved to Europe (for a couple of years) to work as a freelance editorial photographer. Trunk’s editor-in-chief did the same as a freelance writer. And our design director moved to Italy with her family where she set up shop designing for a string of international titles. It was, however, this common experience of actually living abroad with an entirely mobile way of life that sparked Trunk’s evolution from its original incarnation of just an experiential travel magazine into the more refined concept of travel as lifestyle.

We are betting with Trunk that we can make a travel magazine that is more interesting to read, stylish to look at and that covers anything of interest from around the world without playing it safe and without tying our own hands creatively. We’d like to produce something more sophisticated and gutsy for an audience that would appreciate it–an audience that is much larger and more influential now than it ever was–and make the model work, without ever compromising the magazine’s mission. We’re also taking this uncompromising style, content, philosophy and breaking it out into a larger lifestyle brand that provides content and services for our target audience and beyond, with the same integrity and quality that people found in the print magazine.

SH: Your tagline, The World is a Fine Place shows rather a positive believe in our world rather than the doom and gloom attitude many are taking… Why? As founder, what are you trying to accomplish with this magazine?

DC: One of the key goals of Trunk is to demystify the world. We feel that a particular culture or destination does not need to be exoticized in order to make it interesting or worth visiting. In fact sometimes it is what’s familiar about a place that makes it more intriguing–to find out that people over there do things very similarly to how we do them over here is fascinating to Trunk. We obviously embrace what is singular about any given culture. But in our opinion, it’s that combination of the unique and universal–i.e. the common thread that connects us, coupled with indigenous nuance–that truly defines a place.

Trunk’s editor-in-chief and I spent two months in South Africa producing this debut issue. During that time, we were granted access to its budding design scene. Though we were in a country far from home, a place with its own history and issues, it was that dichotomy of a common ground amidst all the differences that made such an impact on us.

South Africa is a place with a dark past and a challenging present and future, to say the least. Until recently, there was not much positive coverage of the country, and American’s had (and still have) an incomplete view of what South Africa is about. One of Trunk’s goals is to break through the stereotypes and clichés–to not run away from the complexity of a foreign culture, but rather to embrace it, even extol it to the point that it is no longer so mysterious or alien. In fact, our alternate tagline for the magazine is, “There are no foreign lands.”

Destinations, the world over, are pigeon holed every day by the media. Africa is the perfect example of an entire continent with poor branding. This is something I read in Monocle a couple of years ago. There are obviously serious issues in many countries across Africa that need to be reported and addressed. But there are positives as well, and they also need to be exposed and explored.

Another perfect example of this is Kashmir. I was there over a year ago. And yes, there is still unrest. But it is a region struggling to get back on its feet–a place with hospitable people, beautiful scenery, and young minds passionate about resuscitating their homeland with innovation and determination. But western media is obsessed only with the doom and gloom of Kashmir. The people I met with did not want to contribute to more articles about the conflict. They were very hungry to convey to the world a different, more positive, and ultimately much more unique side to Kashmir. This is very similar to what Trunk’s photographer, Frédéric Lagrange, experienced when he produced his photo essay on the region. It is one of many things we hope to accomplish with Trunk, issue after issue.

SH: Thank you and best of luck on Trunk.

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