December 2nd, 2016 / 1:55 pm

On Kinfolk


The journal that makes me feel the worst about my life is Kinfolk. It’s beautifully designed with a sharp, clean aesthetic, and its contents—for creative professionals concerning home, work, style and culture—seem earnest and helpful enough, if not a touch self-involved. I guess modern chic or yuppie hipster would describe their vibe. Whenever I see an issue at the bookstore, the first thing I do is smell it, fanning a gentle breeze on my nose. Then I allow myself a quick gander until I feel like killing myself. Then I put it back on the shelf with this increasing suspicion that the white people have won.

That’s unfair. Kinfolk loves to feature Koreans and Japanese, whose minimalist sensibilities are perfectly aligned with the Danish company. They are based in Copenhagen. What follows may be considered a review with digressions.


Here is a typical spread, a full bleed photo coupled with a nice article expressed in thoughtful typography and formatted with wide margins, which either means they can afford extra pages, or are slim on content. This woman appears to be eating whatever that plant is, though one worries if her outfit is best fitted for farming. Those handmade leather boots are at least $300 dollars. Perhaps she’s not a farmer, but a plant slash modeling enthusiast. I would enthusiastically have a farm-to-table salad with her.


I don’t know if food has always been a big deal, or ifin our guilty idleness, our quiet lament for something more difficultit’s increasingly become one. Foodie culture is essentially the obsession with the rustic and unnecessary, retroactively enacting a Pre-industrial labor of doing things in one hour what a machine could do in seconds. I can guarantee you they didn’t need a hammer to crack that cracker, or whatever that is. Those seeds look like they could break a molar. I guess when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a cracker.


They also feature fashion photography with unseemly thin people of suspect disposition, though Prada ads first fetishized the corpse, so this is quaint in comparison. The lady on the concrete bench must have missed out on the cracker earlier and is very tired.


All this seemingly effortless lifestyle porn is depressing. Modern architecture has its roots in the Bauhaus movement, which came out of Germany between wars during a rather bleak period. I feel bad for the child who has to play hide and seek here. He was made to feel invisible, now hiding under the coffee table. His parents are off camera shopping online for the perfect glass ottoman.

Kinfolks seem part of some secret society: of spacious attics with perfectly leveled concrete and exposed brick, of well-adjusted liberals who are still able to sustain political integrity while incessantly hanging out. They have money but do they have jobs? Are these people graphic designers? Heirs to an organic juice company? I am confused.


It remains unclear how to be invited to these gatherings. That salad bowl is probably $135 dollars. I sound like I’m hating, but I envy these people. A masochistic aspiration, to be accepted by them. I have a good palate. “Oh yes, I’m getting the faintest hint of fermented grape here. Is it wine?” I’d ask, in oenophilic fodder.

You may have noticed that sitting on the ground is the new sitting on a chair. Are there tickets? I could buy a ticket.



Imagine if a group of extroverted creative professionals with bohemian proclivities wanted to have a 6 hour dinner seated in half-lotus. Imagine if at least one of them majored in photography and liked to stay off to the side. Imagine that the weather was perfect, dusk indiscernible from the night that followed, a breeze first tickling the microgreens, then cooling off the redness of your wine face. Now imagine a quarterly full of beautiful people and things that, with its intricate effortlessness and ponderous levity, made you feel like both you and your life sucked ass.

Rating: ★★

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  1. Brian McElmurry

      JC is the best. This made me laugh, feel sad and question reality all at the same time. I miss the smell of magazines. I wonder how publications like this exist, or, if indeed, people eat at chair-less short tables in attics and outside antique barns.

  2. Pepito, Abysmal Goat

      though many yuppies belong to longtime urban families others would be only a few generations removed from truly rural ancestors and i wonder if that awareness is not part of the appeal of this rustic chic stuff

      an attempt to recapture that which was never held
      or to know elements of a supposedly lesser life one has supposedly transcended by joining the so called rat race

      of course trends are trends and some people participate just to participate
      even i enjoy a smoothie here and there

  3. Johannes Goransson

      Jimmy, I haven’t seen this magazine. Also, I apologize for a response that will be kind of humorless. This certainly seems like a yuppie-hipster magazine, but the fact that it’s from Denmark (ie another culture, not the US) complicates it for me. To me these spreads read like an attempt to export Scandinavian culture – a culture which constantly mixes modernism (ideologically spread by the welfare states of the 20th century, when the working class gained great influence) and peasant culture (ie the Scandinavian, pre-welfare past) – for US consumption. I know in Sweden, the Social Democrats used the teaching of modernist interior design as a way of getting the peasant-Swedes to break with their past in their “bloodless revolution.” But the national romantic visions of their rural past has survived as part of the culture. As a result you often see not-wealthy Scandinavians living in hip places that mixes the rural and the modernist. I have friends who work in factories and whose places don’t look all that different from this….Though not quite this hip… Johannes

  4. judson_hamilton

      i loved this. good to have you back.