The Spaces In Between: Malaika Byng

Port meets Malaika Byng, editor-in-chief of new digital magazine The Spaces, which aims to uncover extraordinary interiors, architecture and design

Rainmaking Loft, Copenhagen – Photography by Mathias Bojesen
Rainmaking Loft, Copenhagen – Photography by Mathias Bojesen

The Spaces is a new, online-only publication dedicated to architecture, design, art and property, created by the people behind popular music blog FACT Magazine. Headed up by Wallpaper*’s former online editor Malaika Byng, The Spaces will explore new and innovative ways that designers, architects and other creative people are reshaping the places that they live and work in. Here, Port’s Deputy Editor and Online Editor Ray Murphy chats with Byng about the story behind the new title.


How would you describe The Spaces magazine and what is its aim?

The Spaces is a digital publication that brings together architecture, design, art and property in a very visual fashion. We want to ask questions about our built environment and explore the way that people inhabit space and how that is changing.

Definitions of the word ‘home’ are blurring; offices are becoming increasingly like domestic spheres and retail spaces are no longer just for shopping in. We want to inspire people to use design as a tool to rethink how they live their lives.

“We want to inspire people to use design as a tool to rethink how they live their lives”

Tobacco Dock Vaults, which appear in a feature on <em><figcaption class=The Spaces about co-working environments” width=”1000″ height=”631″ class=”size-full wp-image-59943″ /> Tobacco Dock Vaults, which appear in a feature on The Spaces about co-working environments

What will this exploration look like?

We aim to surprise. We’ll be peering over fences and knocking on doors to discover what’s happening to forgotten historic buildings, bringing you stories about those that are being revived in remarkable ways – or could be. Plus, we’ll be exploring new buildings that respond to today’s complex urban challenges, while keeping an eye fixed firmly on the future.

We will look at private domains, public spaces and everything in between. You might find a story on an artist’s extraordinary home-cum-studio or a new hotel where you can not only sleep and eat, but record music and get a haircut. Of course, with this being a soft launch, you’ll need to keep checking back to see these as we publish them.

What do you think will set The Spaces apart from other architecture and design magazines?

There are many architecture, design and art sites, and numerous property sites, but surprisingly few that join these areas together in the digital sphere, despite the fact that they are so closely intertwined. We want to unite them in a lively, engaging and surprising fashion, with a strong emphasis on photography.

We also have a very discerning eye; we’re more interested in the bones of a building than what’s in it, so the classic trappings of luxury are not for us. To us, the space itself is the luxury.

How does the design of your site mirror this?

The design is simple, clean, fresh and unfussy, which reflects our ethos and makes the most of our photography. The ‘latest news’ sidebar on the left is the backbone of the site and makes it amazingly easy to navigate between stories, without you feeling like you’ve left the page. Hopefully this will encourage people to keep delving.


Why is now a good time to launch The Spaces?

We’ve seen a gap and we want to fill it. The potential for growth is infinite with a digital publication, which is very exciting. There’s also more scope for creativity i.e. with film content, which we’ll be introducing soon.

It’ll take time and a lot of hard graft to own it, but we come with some pretty strong digital editorial experience. Our sister publication, FACT magazine, now gets around 1.5m unique visitors a month and is still growing fast. That said, we may well explore one-off print possibilities too, further down the line. For us, though, building up a digital presence first seems the way to go.

Vaulted house by vPPR – Photograph by Ioana Marinescu
Vaulted house by vPPR, featured in a story about infill architecture – Photograph by Ioana Marinescu

What articles on The Spaces sum up what the magazine is hoping to achieve?

We have a story on a radical piece of infill architecture, a model for making the most of every scrap of land in our cities; another dissects the anatomy of the best co-working spaces across the globe, while looking at their potential as urban regenerators; and, for a lighter distraction, we’ve brought together a selection of music videos that give a new beat to some pretty exceptional buildings.

What do you hope your readership will look like in a year’s time?

We hope to have amassed a dedicated pool of readers who are passionate about design and architecture.