The Collector: An Interview with Design Archivist Zane Faraola

Jelly is a design column by David Eardley.

I first met Zane on a blind double friend date. A mutual friend of ours had suggested that my then-partner and I meet up with Zane and his girlfriend at the time, Reyna (now a good friend too), to hang out while we were crashing in Oakland over the holidays. A happy hour meetup quickly turned into four bottles of skin-contact wine and a furious hunt for the best Vietnamese food the city could offer. During the course of that evening, Zane happened to mention that he bought and sold antiques, and I filed that little detail away in my brain for a later, longer conversation.

As I came to know Zane better, I started to realize the extent to which he knew his shit. I mean, this guy could spot a $900 pair of Oakleys or a Michael Graves clock sitting in a pile of junk halfway across a garage sale. A parental interest and lifelong atmosphere of design has left Zane with a niche expertise on object and furniture design, as well as a good eye for vintage designer fashion - he’ll gladly talk pre-2000s Margiela with you any chance he gets

For the first iteration of Jelly, I sat down with Zane to talk magazines. He is an avid design collector and has gathered a floor-to-ceiling collection of design publications, and was even the first one to introduce me to I.D. (International Design) magazine.

I asked Zane to put together a few of his favorite issues for us to look through - his selections reveal his attention to detail, devotion to his trade, and an enviable knowledge of millennium-era design and beyond.

Zane: I should just probably start by talking about why I collect magazines - why I collect '80s to early 2000s type stuff - up to 2008.

That was the last great era of magazines. I notice magazines getting popular again, but you can't get the spontaneity that you used to be able to. Back then, you really trusted a creative director - they were a bit more mysterious. Instagram wasn't around.

I think that people put a bit more trust in the magazines at that time.

Me: That makes sense.

It was spontaneous. You had no fucking clue what you’d find when you’d pick up a magazine. You had to actually read it and go deeper into it. And there was no algorithm showing you the same stuff over and over and over again, which now I think everyone's getting tired of.

I remember you telling me about the time you first remember seeing Wallpaper Magazine - one of your favorites - in the airport when you were a kid. And that was your first foray into design.

Every time I'd go on vacation, my mom and my dad would give me and my brothers some cash to each go pick a magazine. It was cool because we all were into design-type stuff, you know? My older brother would always buy more of a graffiti-based magazine, that also had some sort of fashion in it. But I would always get Wallpaper Magazine, and then we'd trade.

When you think about like the reasoning behind you collecting these magazines, where does your mind go?

I think, at first, it was just to gain knowledge, because I buy and sell art and design for a living.

You start picking up the magazines - especially older ones - and you reverse engineer it all. I'll look at a magazine and notice an interesting piece and then now go out looking for it.

Back then you were trusting a person, to put an experience together.

Yeah, you're trusting a person to put it together, not an AI algorithm that's literally just giving you exactly what you like all the time. It becomes fucking boring. This DOMUS magazine (see above) in particular I really dig. DOMUS was a great magazine.

What's the theme of this issue? There seems to be a theme.

Fashion interiors, specifically of stores. Here you've got the Alexander McQueen store in New York. They even tell you exactly who designed it too, like this one, by William Russell.

It's so weird to be looking at this sort of crystal blue, retrofuturistic space. And to see this style repeated a lot today. The sort of crystal coloring.

Mm-hmm. I’ve got to go straight to my favorite. On the cover, there's a little bit of it too; it's Martin Margiela and it's so good. It's so fucking good. It's the interior of his store in Paris. All the way down to this painted water fixture - they painted absolutely everything white.

Why is this look evocative of Margiela?

It's just totally an interior done by the atelier. I love to walk into a space that's so absolutely unique and representative of not only the brand, but of it’s spirit. This is truly Martin Margiela to a tee - it's just so delicate and worn in a beautiful way. All the way down to this white paint that's chipping.

This another DOMUS magazine. What is the theme of this issue?

The theme of this one is just "back to normal." It's a bit random. There are some houses, and Gaetano Pesce is in in, which is cool to see because his work is so hot now. Here's the interview

(Zane opens to an insert that is much smaller than the dimensions of the issue - almost like a zine or pamphlet - see above.)

This is beautiful.

You can see his famous cityscape couch. This is probably one of my favorite issues because of how they decided to do all these interviews as inserts. It's just this tiny little book that can stand on its own.

Yeah. This is a thing that we don't see a lot anymore.

A magazine within a magazine.

Exactly. It reminds me of NEST magazine, now they would die cut the pages to create different experiences within an issue. I wonder if they thought about how the texture and colors of the papers contrasted with each other - it seems purposeful. Do you feel more drawn to this insert because it's about Gaetano or because the style of the spread is so unique?

I think probably because it's super unique. You flip to it almost immediately, naturally. It's the very first thing you open up to. It's kind of like a little warm up to the magazine.

So for those who may not know, this is a different I.D. magazine than the culture mag we know today, right?

Yeah, this is I.D., not I-D.

Do the initials stand for something?

International Design.

It's worth checking out, because it's just so crazy informative. This issue that we're looking at is the design review for 1995. This magazine will review absolutely everything. You've got equipment design for 1995, and there's all the furniture as well. It's stuff you've never, ever seen before. Like this Nike bench. And it's super detailed, and the advertising is so of that era. The layouts are surprisingly experimental.

This is FRAME.

FRAME is still around, right?

FRAME is still around. I'm blown away at the extent that they go to for this magazine at this time, from 2007. This is a thick, heavy-ass, full-on magazine. Each issue would focus on different things, but this issue is interesting because it's called the Kaleidoscope issue. They'll go to places that you normally wouldn't think of for an interiors exploration, like bars or restaurants or clubs. I love that - to see interiors of those spaces in print and especially ones that are all most likely gone now.

Yeah, and I'm sure no one else was really photographing a lot of these spaces.

I like how FRAME isn’t necessarily just showing houses. We see so many home interiors all the time. But here you've got the House of Bols, which is a weird cocktail bar that was in Amsterdam.

Wow. I don't even know what I'm looking at.


"A carnival for the senses." [laughs]

Right?! It's so weird. They're just amazing, amazing unique interiors that sometimes only lasted two years.

This is Wallpaper, March 2002. I remember Wallpaper being at every fucking airport when I was a kid and it was the first time that I got into magazines. Wallpaper was the first magazine I picked up that looked at design for everything.

One of the reasons I like it is because all of their spreads are totally about living. About how to live or how to entertain and have this design-conscious lifestyle.

In one of the issues, it's an entire spread with all this fantastic furniture in an amazing loft and it’s all about hosting somebody over for a date for the very first night. It tells you what to buy, all the way down to buying the dinnerware. And models are all in vintage Versace too. It hits on everything I like.

This spread here is all about using natural hues, and they tell you what all to buy, like the desk and the lamp, but also even this pair of loafers. It has a bit of everything.

I saw a clip the other day of this creative director saying that internet has ruined curation. What do you think about that?

I don't think the internet itself has. I think that it's an amazing resource. I do think that AI trying to learn and market to you has ruined creativity because it's not spontaneous. It's all just showing you exactly what you want to see or tweaking it just a little bit, but it's not a human interaction or actual curation anymore.

It's passive rather than active.

Yeah. Definitely.

Beyond collecting magazines, you also collect a lot of different things. Do you think this is something that you'll continue doing for the rest of your life?

I think I'll always buy and sell, definitely, or do something related to design. I love being able to talk about design with people, you know?

What magazines you would recommend for people to get into if they want to start collecting?

I would start with I.D. Magazine and some of those early Wallpapers - I think you can still get them for cheap. Take a chance too. Once you figure out a magazine that you like, start looking for that particular one. I had absolutely no clue what certain magazines were when I bought them. I just found them on the street, opened them up, looked inside and was like wow, this is incredible. •