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Don’t call Playground a glossy magazine. “It’s more of an editioned art piece,” says co-founder Zach Gold.
And how. Only 250 copies have been produced, most of which will hit select stores including Colette, Selfridges, Project No. 8 in New York and All Purpose in Los Angeles next week. Housed in an organic-looking, rubber-coated urethane box designed by Dror Benshetrit, Playground consists of unbound prints of works by artists and designers such as Jeremy Kost, Terence Koh, Scott King and Ellis Scott. And as the name suggests, the connections between the various subjects are tenuous at best since the contributors were given free reign in what they submitted.
“A major factor of this project was just having the freedom to play completely: no theme, no overarching need to do anything by way of an advertiser or anything of that nature,” explains co-founder Julie Ragolia.
Indeed, no advertisements fill Playground’s pages. Instead there are lush photographs, collages, illustrations and even one piece accompanied by its own CD soundtrack. Some of the more provocative images, such as Clayton James Cubitt’s purple-toned bodily landscape, “Hot Pearl Snatch #12,” even required Ragolia and Gold to make each of the 250 prints themselves, as no one was willing to replicate them.
The self-financed endeavor, which has a planned two issues a year, emerged from Ragolia and Gold’s mutual frustration with the parameters placed on their aesthetics, after 10 years of working in fashion as a stylist and photographer, respectively. Ragolia first worked for MTV, straight out of New York University, styling VJs and celebrity hosts. She soon segued into editorial gigs, as a contributing editor at Fader and doing stories for international editions of W and Vogue. Gold, a Parsons graduate, started out in advertising and then joined the creative direction team at BlackBook in the late Nineties. In 2000, he won the International Center of Photography’s award for young photographer of the year, and has since done stints in indie magazines, hip-hop (he is also an illustrator) and, currently, what he terms, “big advertising stuff.”
As for the fate of Playground’s works once they land in their buyers’ homes, Gold gives his customers the same open-ended offer that he proposed to the contributing artists. “They can give them away, they can frame them, they can throw away the ones they don’t like,” he jokes.
At a cool $600 a pop for the issue, the trash bin seems rather unlikely.