(SPOT.ph) Many have, over the years, waved the white flag that bore the words “Print is dead”—but stepping inside this new magazine store in the heart of Ortigas will make you think the opposite.
Spruce Gallery, a new magazine shop in Ortigas
Called Spruce Gallery, this shop has a largely black space, which effectively acts as blank canvas to the exuberance of colors and explosion of design elements that litter its shelves. You can easily spend a whole afternoon here just perusing the different magazines available. Although they carry more familiar titles like Vogue, Wallpaper, Design Anthology and Monocle, expect to discover new favorites. Like Sablos, a newly-minted travel title from Barcelona. It zeroes in on one place and explores the area extensively through its locals.
Brownbook, meanwhile, is an urban guide based in the Middle East. “It’s so fascinating to read about worldly subjects through the lens of a region that’s exotic and not famous for press liberalism,” says Ric Gindap, one of Spruce’s founders.
There’s also the sophisticated Ark Journal from Copenhagen which Gindap describes as having “that hygge warmth and humanity about it.”
Gindap, who is also the creative director and chief strategist for branding company Design For Tomorrow, recommends the magazine Nang. “Dedicated to Asian cinema and the culture surrounding it, this HK-born title is one of the most beautifully crafted journals I have ever bought. The typography and design and art direction are all topnotch and elegant!”
All the titles in the gallery were handpicked by its founders. “Nothing in this space is foreign to us. If it’s displayed here, chances are we bought a copy or previous issues in the past,” assures Gindap. “We will not recommend something we do not know or understand.”
Another interesting rag is the London-based Boys! Boys! Boys!, which co-founder Bonnapart Galeng describes as “a celebration of the best of contemporary queer photography.” Meanwhile, there’s also Pin-up—“[It’s] our favorite architecture and design magazine based in New York, which has an amazing, vibrant editorial voice. It has a bold design aesthetic and an incisive but not-taking-things-too-seriously approach to presenting content.”
The magazines at Spruce are thankfully displayed with their covers upfront—not by spine—so visitors can readily appreciate a title’s design and artwork. A Monocle radio perched on top of an Ishinomaki Laboratory Tripodal High Stool is usually streaming a broadcast from Monocle24— a very cool way to enhance your experience of being here while browsing the pages of, well, Monocle.
Keeping the maghags happy
Spruce Gallery is no doubt happy news to magazine freaks in Manila who’ve missed their monthly dose of splashy foreign reads. The pandemic practically wiped out all of the magazine stores in the country, after all. “We couldn’t find magazines anymore in Manila. The big bookstore chains decided to eliminate magazines in the mix,” Gindap shares. “And since [Bonnapart and I] both love magazines, we had no other source except when we travel. The thrill of finding unique titles is what drove us to look at each other and say, ‘if we love this, there are probably a hundred other people like us in Manila.’”
Magazines have evolved into more timeless manifestos over time, manuals and guides that can age well and be appreciated years after. Says Gindap: “You probably have noticed that the iPad versions of magazines did not really flourish. At the same time, every one these days is a digital native. So there’s a counter revolution happening. People are spending so much time in the digital universe that there is a collective yearning for something physical and tangible.” And magazines on paper are a great example.
“Now magazines are considered a luxury instead of just something disposable, because it takes time to really put an issue together in such a definitive way.
The amount of time and effort put into that is what makes a magazine truly special.”
For Galeng, flipping through a magazine is like traveling without passports. “These international titles usually have interesting articles and features that transport us to a lot of places. You meet the most interesting people through these features without physically talking to them.”
Spruce Gallery, as the name suggests, also spotlights art. By the cashier, one is readily confronted by a diptych from Ronald Caringal bearing the image of Brillo soap boxes with the words “Brilliant Bullshit” written across the canvases. There’s also a series of contemporary works by Angelo Magno displayed above the magazines. The space also aims to hold art exhibitions, which is why their logo incorporates an open magazine and a frame.
“We’d really like to be the avenue of local voices as well. There are a lot of local printmakers and we want to be that place that can showcase their voices, their design and their work,” says Galeng.
Print may no longer be in its glory days, when the sight of more than a hundred titles in a bookstore wall is a common thing, but it’s certainly not extinct. “This space is living proof that print is not dead,” offers Gindap. Says Galeng: “Print has never been more alive.”
Words and photos by Jar Concengco.
Spruce Gallery is located in UG3 of City & Land Mega Plaza along ADB Avenue corner Garnet Road in Ortigas Centre. Nearest parking will be at the Robinsons Galleria across the street.