arcades is a new zine documenting the magic of suburban life and culture
For their second issue, Wendy Huynh’s Arcades captures the creative classes that make London’s outskirts thrive.
Photography Stefy Pocket
Suburbia for many is the place they escaped from on their journey to a new life in the big city. Often seen as a place of manicured front lawns, twitching curtains and terrace-lined streets, it's not somewhere you'd think to look for creative inspiration. Wendy Huynh wants to change this with her self-published magazine Arcades. The photography and fashion tome is on a mission to redefine the reputation of the suburbs as a cultural and creative hub. Originally launching last year, issue one paid attention to the suburbs of Huynh's youth in the outskirts of Paris. For issue two, Huynh looked to the British capital and the place she'd spent most of her adult life, studying Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins. Following the issue's launch at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, i-D caught up with the CSM graduate who's tapping into the creative classes that make London's periphery thrive.
Why did you want to focus on the suburbs and not the cities they surround?
I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Paris and always had this love/hate relationship with my town. Living half an hour away from the capital made me feel close to Paris, but at the same time so far from everything that was happening. I started becoming more interested in my hometown Bussy-Saint-Georges while studying in London. It's a boring dormitory town where all the houses look alike, located near the perfect world of Disneyland. I grew up with everything I needed around me; schools, shopping malls, friends with big houses for weekend parties, and I realised my town, like many others, was self-sufficient. The way of living is different from the capital -- whether we're talking about green, rough or residential suburbs, the way suburban inhabitants speak, dress and play changes. It's also in terms of aesthetics, through both architecture and atmosphere. The suburbs has its own culture which is sometimes subtle but so interesting and unique. I felt there was a lot of cliché surrounding the suburbs, especially after the 2005 riots in Paris. People often refer to Mathieu Kassovitz's movie La Haine, which I love, but didn't feel was reflective of what all of suburbia was like. Through the magazine, there has been a desire to show people with honesty and transparency, what is happening in the suburbs right now, and not what was happening ten years ago.
So far you've focused on the suburbs of capital cities -- are you going to look at lesser known suburbs or further afield for the next issue?
Yes definitely. I decided to have my first two issues on Paris and London, as they are the two cities where I have spent most of my time and which were personally close and familiar to me. There are a lot of smaller cities I would like to explore. In this issue we have a special feature on the work of photographer Yves Drillet who has been documenting the city of Rennes in France and its periphery. For the next issue, I'm planning to go to the south of France to explore the suburbs of Marseille.
How would you define the essence of a suburb?
Visually I think it's a group of young suburban boys and girls on a train, talking and laughing, listening to music on their speaker and feeling confident in the clothes they wear, without caring what other people think.
Do the creative people you feature in the magazine also use the suburbs as inspiration or a catalyst for creativity?
Both. In this second issue we have interviewed designer Liam Hodges who talks about how the quietness and boredom of his hometown in Kent made him want to move to London and work as a designer, which for me suggests the suburb was the essence and catalyst for creativity. On the other side we featured illustrator Engy Saint-Ange who designed the magazine's poster, and is inspired by the way suburban inhabitants behave in groups and how they dress.
You hosted a launch party at Protein Studios and after party with live DJs and performances for the launch of Issue Two. Will Arcades expand beyond the print publication?
In the second issue, we photographed and interviewed rapper Flohio and DJ Riz La Teef so it made sense to have them perform live at our launch party. I'm currently planning an exhibition in Paris on the suburbs, showcasing artists working around this same theme. I want to develop Arcades into a 'platform' which gives a 360° vision through the print publication but also music, events and goodies. Being able to produce a print magazine and hold it in my hands gives me real satisfaction, but it goes beyond that. I noticed with the first issue that it gave the opportunity for young people who might not necessarily be interested in the arts or photography to go to bookshops and buy it, and that for me was the biggest achievement of the magazine.
Out of the upcoming creatives you featured in this issue, who should we be looking out for in the future?
South London MC Flohio who will be performing at Glastonbury this year, and actor Archie Madekwe who is currently playing in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? alongside Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo.
Text Max Tuson