Blok designs and prints the new LAT Magazine amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Case Study by Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Founder and Creative Director at Blok Design



We have a long existing relationship with 48North, a company that is reimagining the cannabis landscape while challenging preconceptions through thoughtful leadership, products and experiences.
We participated in the strategic process to develop 48North’s entire brand system from the beginning -- including the naming and concept of LAT Magazine and the product division, F8.
Relationships that are rooted in this way allow us to understand not only the value proposition of the company but also understand how project scopes need to shift as time goes by. LAT Magazine was a natural extension of this holistic approach.

Client Goals

A new print and digital LAT Magazine is the means by which we connect many viewpoints, perspectives, cultures, stigmas and non-stigmas in a conversation that emanates from cannabis and extends to our everyday life. LAT provides space to converse about the issues that are relevant to us at this time: about art, personal journeys and exploration, amnesty, equality, sex, self-love and perseverance. 
The audience in this particular case was not a specific target group but instead a mindset. While creating a space for women was an important consideration, we don't see gender as the only guiding force behind this publication, but rather the mindset of vast openness to the subject and the content. It invites and includes all those who share in that expansiveness. With a multitude of thought provoking entry points, LAT offers many opportunities for any reader to connect.

Project Deliverables

Our task was to deliver a printed magazine, spanning collaborative editorial development to print production. Given the unexpected shift of the pandemic, we had to adapt to the circumstances and create a digital experience for LAT at the speed of light -- in a month and a half!


The key was being a part of the content development, living with it and shaping it. We were not only in charge of the design; we were active collaborators in the editorial development of the magazine with an amazing editorial chief, Antonia Whyatt from 48North, making it an incredibly fun and holistic experience. 


Design Process and Research 

There is no research in uncharted territories. Cannabis has been shaping and reshaping itself for the past three years with pre-legalization and has now become part of our everyday lives. Given our early involvement within this space, we as a studio have evolved and have been active participants in this paradigm shift. The opportunity we have been most grateful for is the ability to explore.
LAT is about relevance in society, reshaping of narratives and occupying a place in our immediate present and imminent future. 
This meant including narratives like the paradox of legalization. LAT interviewed Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Sociology and director of research for Cannabis Amnesty, who spoke to the inequality surrounding cannabis criminalization pre-legalization. “Black and Indigenous people in this country were disproportionately arrested for cannabis possession,” he says. While the Canadian government introduced a bill to grant pardons and record suspensions, the process is still quite onerous, thus keeping members of the marginalized communities behind bars. 
This is a difficult but important conversation to have and LAT is a space to raise questions that have yet to be resolved societally or brought to larger conversations, be it amnesty, health or personal exploration. 
LAT also aims to discover cannabis through many voices and experiences -- sometimes at the core of a subject or as an insinuation -- through words and images.

Client Experience

Working on LAT Magazine was one of the most effortless and collaborative experiences we have ever had. Collaborations like this are always based on mutual trust and respect. It allows space for debate and tension where each party is striving consistently for the best outcome. 


Design Solution

When working on a project in the cannabis space, it is always a challenge to make sure that the subject is treated with both the necessary thoughtfulness and an openness to new ideas. It was also important to ensure the writers and photographers we brought onto the project felt comfortable in their creative expressions and the subject matter. 

We were excited to collaborate with so many talented photographers. Each one brought a unique perspective and understanding of the world and it is this flux of creative dialogue that amplified the multiplicitous voices of the magazine and fed our spirits. 
One of the biggest challenges was the uncertainty that arose mid-project with COVID-19 pandemic. Without a personally-connected team, both internally at the studio and externally with the client, this experience would have been unfathomable.

Designer Lessons

1. In new spaces, lead. Do not follow.
2. Don’t be afraid to contact people who seem beyond your reach, creatively or geographically. You are one step away from making it happen. 
3. Try to get into projects at their conception so you can be part of their holistic development.

Client Lessons

1. Choose a company that aligns itself with your values and can see further than a market.

2. Collaborate openly.
3. There is no risk besides not moving (forward).


Execution and Implementation during COVID-19 Pandemic 

Nothing could not have been affected by the pandemic and its uncertainty. The pandemic shifted not only our daily routines, but how the world exists and will function. We have always believed in being a studio that is connected to what is actually happening, not only within design, but also in the larger cultural and political spheres of society. In this context, the key was how fast we could adapt and embrace all the constraints and possibilities presented to us in this moment.
Our fluidity of adaptation asked for so much more than just working virtually. It meant we needed to find new rhythms and connections within our own team and with our collaborators. When it came to printing, we did press checks in a parking lot, where the gravel kept perforating the proof and continuously catching the paper as it flew away in the wind. 
We had considered the possibility of designing a unique digital experience for the magazine before COVID-19. The pandemic accelerated this plan. Social distancing became a new concept in our language and everyday so we were unsure if our printers would even be able to print. All of these uncertainties pushed us to alternative solutions. This entire experience has led us to launch a magazine in physical and digital space -- in record time -- against all odds.
The experience has been surreal to say the least, beautiful in its unexpectedness. 

Adapting to the Current Situation

Our humanity existed even before the pandemic; we would not have been able to execute this project successfully without pre-established connections. Our studio is a community in which we share life, food, success and adventures. This new context has brought about new traditions of connection. We may not be able to eat around the same table, but we’ve found new ways to connect and be human despite the physical distance.



Check out Blok's 48North case study


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