Mas Is More

April 6, 2009

MAS Studio wanted to understand what MORE really meant to us and what MAS Context wants to become. This is not the definitive answer to either of these two questions but begins the exploration.


Mas issue more cover opening

© JNL Graphic Design.

I have been thinking about the idea of creating a discussion platform centered around design issues for quite some time now. The idea of that platform has always tended towards being a physical publication than a website or any other media type, I suppose in part because of my interest over the last few years in producing books. I have to say that there is something really rewarding about holding a well-thought and carefully designed book: size, layout, paper, cover, thickness, material, binding…, etc. I guess it’s the same thing as buying a vinyl record versus just downloading the songs. The content is the same but the experience is completely different.

For various reasons, I had never taken the definitive steps to put something together in a periodical format. I guess I finally realized that at least, I needed to try to do something to address all those things that I am interested in and have not been able to accomplish so far in my professional experience:

– First, the pace in which books generally are published. It is usually too slow, not only to produce the content of a book but to convince a publisher to believe in your work and distribute it. Publishing is always much slower than the pace of the world of design. Unfortunately, by the time you are able to publish something, you are already on to the next endeavor.

– Second, the amount of information and knowledge that is wasted in the design offices. I have worked in a few architecture offices since I graduated from architecture, from the small ones with a couple of people to the big corporations with several hundred in a single office. The speed of production and the need to fulfill the requirements of the client often leaves little room to stop and think about the quantity and quality of information around you. There is no efficient transfer of knowledge.

– Finally, most (if not all) of the issues that have to be addressed while designing a project require the involvement of a multidisciplinary team. In architecture, experts in structures, lighting, landscape, acoustics, manufacturing and others are often brought to the table, but what about including those other design fields-graphic design, industrial design, artists, etc.? And let’s not forget those that are not directly design related and but have more influence in the development of a city than those listed above: economists, sociologists, politicians, historians, scientists, civic leaders, etc. They have as much to say as those of you who have the ability to draw.

The goal of MAS Context is basically to address these issues in a quarterly journal and find a common area where these new relationships can happen in a timely manner. Of course, a new journal always starts with some limitations but also with a lot of energy and passion to try to do our best. We know it will not be the only and perfect solution to all of these issues but we will try to attack some of the problems.

MAS Context starts with some basic ideas that we want to carry through every issue:

Include as many voices as possible when addressing an issue
Sometimes we will take a position on an issue and sometimes we will lay down the information so that the readers can reach their own conclusion, evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of the positions presented. We want people from different fields to participate.

Combine diverse type of media
Photography, essays, diagrams, interviews, case studies, films or other relevant media are mixed together to provide a comprehensive view of an issue.

Package the information in an appealing way
We want to engage new audiences who are not familiar with the topic or do not necessarily have a design background. We do not want to talk to a specific field but everyone who is interested in the urban context.

“Talk amongst yourselves”
Connect the design community located in different parts of the planet. There is good work everywhere and we want to know about it.

Make it accessible to as many people as possible
We offer a bound copy of the journal, an electronic file that you can download for free, and a website. Basically, we want you to have it.

For the inaugural issue of MAS Context, the topic of MORE was chosen. It establishes the ideas behind MAS Studio and the journal and sets the goals of what we want to achieve. We want to share what we like about MORE, who and what represents MORE for us, and as important for others. This is just the start.

Enjoy, share, discuss and participate in MAS Context.


The first volume of MAS Context has had the invaluable help from Clint Bautz, Simona Chiappa from Prada, Dan Hill from City of Sound, Bjarke Ingels and Frederik Lyng from BIG, Red Mike and Adam Goss from Spirit of Space, Jason Pickleman from JNL Graphic Design, Ana Ramírez, and Mario Vaquerizo from Fangoria.

We also grateful to all the architects, designers, engineers, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, filmmakers, university directors, scientist, and students who gave us their definition of MORE.