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Lebigmag, Moscow. People visit from fatigue by the sight of screens

Magazines: one can travel without travelling. «I receive orders from villages in Russia, for which, when I look at Google Maps are towns consisting of twenty houses»

Lebigmag in Moscow

A mansion by the name of Richter consists of a project by Konstantin Kotov in the center of Moscow. In late 2018, Lebigmag opened its reading room inside the mansion which provides opportunities to a handful, in privacy and seclusion. The top floor is occupied by a design hotel with seven rooms. The premises additionally house an outdoor-exhibition space, an art gallery, a sound studio, a bar and a restaurant.

Nastya Efimova, the owner of Brick Hotel and founder of Richter, invited Kotov to join her project, named after an architect who built the house for his family. Lebigmag is an international-magazine store with a collection of publications on fashion, art and cultural fields and is updated as new-issues are released. It is also the Russian partner of a number of publishers and distributors for arrivals of prints, providing updates with a frequency of distribution in Russia.

St. Petersburg is Kotov’s hometown. The city influenced his upbringing and growth. Her father, who was a journalist and a photographer during the Soviet Union, had an impact on him as well. Tsar Peter founded the city on 27th of May 1703, on the site of a captured Swedish fortress. It took the name of apostle Saint Peter as the second-largest city in Russia.

Konstantin Kotov’s background

Kotov studied philology and foreign languages in St. Petersburg and continued to do so in Trier at the age of eighteen, for four years, post which he lived in Cologne to explore the print culture of Europe and contemporary-art scene. «Studying culture has paved the foundation for my project».

In 2002, Kotov returned to study public relations in St. Petersburg. His interest in print culture led him to explore photography, journalism, editing as well as designing publications. His meditation and research on the matter launched his initiation of bringing foreign magazines to Russia as they were not available. «I noticed the magazines I had in my collection were appreciated. This then grew eagerness on the possibilities of having a space where foreign issues are demanded, cultivating curiosity. In 2011, my idea began to solidify which made me open the reading room in September 2012 and launch a website in the spring of 2013».

Lampoo, Lebigmag interior space
Lebigmag interior space

Lampoon review: The inception of Lebigmag

Kotov‘s involvement with the art world resulted in him visiting galleries in St. Petersburg. He also conjoined and extended this interest for a collaboration with Rizzordi Art Gallery run by Anna Shumilova, owning a ground loft area of four-thousand-square-meters. A brick building of five-stories and abandoned-brewery from the nineteenth century was converted into an art gallery focusing on Russian and Western art, covering genres and techniques that occupy two stories of the building.

Further, Anna provided a twenty-five-meter-square space to Kotov at the entrance of the gallery to build the reading room without charging a commission. «I built a wall, added magazines from my collection, made international orders, brought-in old furniture, and then my reading room was ready». Lebigmag collaborated with Rizzordi in St Petersburg until 2015. Kotov moved to and operated the responsibilities online from Buenos Aires, without having physical representation, until 2017. He decided to open a store in the city of Moscow after encountering Falena Libros, a bookshop in Argentina, owned by Marcela Giscafrè.

Falena Libros resembled a deserted-building from the outside and opened into a wine cellar and reading space. The bookstore consisted of terraces and a lounge space with a fireplace that held art exhibitions, wine tasting as well as social-gatherings. The bookshop did not welcome visitors without prior appointment. This dynamic of a reading space, in fact, impressed Kotov. «I wanted to implement its theme. I did not know if it would work and if the people in Russia would show interest. Therefore, I considered it a social experiment».

Magazine launches at Lebigmag

In 2017, Kotov returned to Russia and then moved the St. Petersburg store to Moscow with friends. «We opened a space at an old constructivist bread factory and named it Auditoria. It combined a reading room and a store of foreign magazines, a lecture hall and a bar». Here they welcomed Maria Joudina, the editor of Puss Puss Magazine, who launched the sixth issue of the magazine at Lebigmag, which was the first foreign-launch in the print history of Russia. They also had Emmy Koski, chief editor of Odiseo Magazine, who launched the tenth issue at Lebigmag marking a second launch.

«At Richter, I have an audience, people I have gathered in the thousands, who come to purchase at Lebigmag. Further, we have professionals emerging from the publication industry within Russia. It pleases me to serve this group of people. My education has not been related to the work I do. Yes, I appreciated cinema, music and cultural-representations growing up. I DJ, take photos and write, but they are my hobbies. What I am doing at Lebigmag affects me and my interests. It is a co-creative partnership. Magazines, in fact, are the source of the visual-experience with which one can travel without travelling. I did not begin with the intention to be a millionaire. The reading room is an adventure».

The Covid-19 pandemic impact and future development at Lebigmag

«We had a rise in demand during Covid-19 lockdowns. People came to the reading room as they mentioned they were fatigued by the sight of screens. Print culture is here to stay and digital-innovation is here to support it, but not overpower the prints. The interest in magazines at Lebigmag has risen in comparison to 2020 and I consider this social-experiment as a profession».

On the question of the name Lebigmag, Kotov responded, «the name comes from the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ by Quentin Tarantino when Vince (John Travolta) returns from his trip to Europe and tells Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) what Mc Donald’s called Big Mac Burger in Paris which was Le Big Mac. I was in my youth when I watched the film. I was intrigued by the narration that was played. This is why I did a wordplay with the term, replacing ‘c’ with ‘g’ for the ‘mag’ in magazine, and decided on ‘Lebigmag’».

The Russian print culture has grown with zine prints and Kotov supports artists across domains. «I hope to see a reboot in print culture». Lebigmag has been distributed within Russia with partners in cities, towns and villages. «I receive orders from villages in Russia, for which, when I look at Google Maps are towns consisting of twenty houses». Kotov now gives lectures at the British School of Art and Design. He wishes to be a teacher as well as to launch his magazine in the coming future. 

Lebigmag

Ulitsa Pyatnitskaya, 42, Moscow, Russia

Lebigmag is a is an international-magazine store in Moscow, Russia, with a collection of publications on fashion, art and cultural fields.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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