To make design accessible to a wider general audience seeking a more sophisticated lifestyle.
< Casa Brutus >
Tokyo, Japan, 2000
In meeting the democratization of the design era in the digital world, design magazines opt for different strategies. Some may choose to go deep into their specialties, while others expand their content scope to encompass everything lifestyle means, even going so far as to cover cuisine, for example, in an effort to gain a competitive edge. A case in point is Casa Brutus (casabrutus.com), a monthly Japanese lifestyle magazine that operates under the slogan “design-focused lifestyle.” In line with the continued increase in people’s desire for a high-end lifestyle, Casa Brutus aims at making design accessible to a broader audience. Its parent company, Magazine House, Ltd. (Tokyo), is a well-established magazine publisher that has ten lifestyle magazines under its wing, including Brutus, Ginza, and Popeye.
While Brutus explores urban male lifestyles, Casa Brutus focuses more on design lifestyle rather than on specific gender characteristics. As a result, it boasts a balanced readership among men and women that stands at 55 percent and 45 percent, respectively. In fact, Casa Brutus has a circulation of 75,000 copies a year, an impressive figure, even in a country like Japan, which also happens to be home to the world’s largest number of print media readers. Its wide range of design content covers everything from products and furniture items to interior design trends and relevant event information. It also sponsors Tokyo Designers Week every autumn and has been publishing a free magazine called Daily Casa for 13 straight years under the belief that a company like Magazine House has a responsibility to inform the public about the extensive number of design events going on across Tokyo. It will also attract potential readers who are interested in design.
As an official media sponsor of the annual Tokyo Design Week, Casa Brutus also distributes a free magazine called Daily Casa that provides information on various design events.
“While remaining focused on our goal of becoming a comprehensive media brand, we are also open to various opportunities, such as digitalization, or makings animation or movies out of our content.” Casa Brutus editor-in-chief Ko Matsubara
Casa Brutus began as a special issue in 1998, and its warm reception helped turn it into a regularly issued magazine. Since 2000, you’ve been publishing ten issues a year. What has changed significantly over the years and what has remained the same at Casa Brutus?
We started in 2000 as a monthly magazine. Since then, we’ve operated under the slogan of being a “design-focused lifestyle magazine,” something we always print on the top left-hand side of the cover. This slogan embodies our dedication to the design required for leading a life of convenience and partaking of design that enriches our lives. Something else that hasn’t changed is our gender neutrality. Over the past 15 years, we’ve experienced a lot of changes, just as readers in Japan have gone through many lifestyle changes. However, we’ve always tried to keep step with these changes through a variety of feature articles. More recently, Japanese people have become more focused on our own day-to-day lives as opposed to international trends.
Casa Brutus also publishes Mook, which examines architecture, travel, and food. Why did you see the need for such a magazine?
The content in Casa Brutus is invaluable and stays relevant for years, so it’s sad that each edition goes out of print in just six months. That’s why we created Mook. It’s a compilation of certain popular feature articles and other related pieces all in one magazine-book (the term Mook is a portmanteau of “magazine” and “book”) that is then distributed through a book category network, not a magazine one. That way we can reprint it if one particular edition of Mook sells out.
Have you ever considered a bilingual version of Casa Brutus? Do you have any special plans for international readers?
It would be a challenge in terms of the layout design because Casa Brutus is basically published in a vertical writing format. Should you flip it horizontally as they read in Western countries, it would go from right to left in the Japanese version. We, at least, put the English names of places we report on for the sake of our readers. While our print volume will continue to be done only in Japanese for the time being, our online issue is bilingual. In our text, we also use Chinese characters, which are ideograms that allow certain readers (in China, Korea and Japan, for example) to infer the meaning from a single character. Thus, we try to optimize the layout of all images and text so that readers can more easily understand our articles.
Have you spun off any new businesses from the magazine?
We produced an animation called Tinny the Balloon Puppy based on a picture book published by Casa Brutus. The animation is currently being aired through NHK General TV’s sister service, NHK Education TV. We also have plans to produce a movie from this animation in two years. As we move forward, we will continue to promote strategically our magazine content through various multimedia platforms, such as online video clips, TV shows, and movies.
Where do you see Casa Brutus in 10 years from now?
Admittedly, conventional print media like magazines, newspapers, and books are giving way to the abruptly surging platform of digital media. Newspapers may disappear one day, but I still believe in the value of print books and magazines, just not in the same way. In fact, we recently uploaded a video clip on to our website that was shot by a drone camera for an article on the reconstruction of the Okura Hotel in Tokyo. As we remain focused on our goal of becoming a comprehensive media brand, we are also open to all sorts of new opportunities, such as digitalization or making animations/movies directly from our content.
The animation Tinny the Balloon Puppy was created from a picture book that Casa Brutus published