How Pin-Up Magazine Founder Felix Burrichter Feeds His Insatiable Curiosity
To Felix Burrichter, the German-born, New York–based founder of the biannual architecture and design magazine Pin-Up, life is a glorious cacophony of different voices, visions, and ideas—and he can’t get enough of them. “I’m never happy with just the world around me,” he says. “I always want to know what’s going on everywhere else. And it’s not even necessarily places around the world. Sometimes there are other worlds right in front of you.”
Burrichter’s insatiable curiosity and imagination are what spurred him to create Pin-Up in the first place. After earning his master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University, he worked at a corporate New York architecture firm, where he found himself miserable drawing Photoshop illustrations and making mood boards. To pass the time, he began imagining what the ideal architecture magazine would look like. The answer he emerged with, in 2006, was Pin-Up—what he dubbed a “magazine for architectural entertainment”—which aims to capture the eclectic spirit of architectural practice rather than merely its technical aspects.
Burrichter’s perpetual hunt for fresh perspectives played out on Pin-Up’s masthead this past fall, when, after 15 years of serving as the publication’s editor, he brought on furniture designer, writer, and filmmaker Emmanuel Olunkwa to take over the job, and shifted his own role to that of creative director. Issue 31 of Pin-Up, the first under Olunkwa’s purview, was released last week with the theme “Radical Optimism‽”, a simultaneous rallying cry and skeptical inquiry made in response to the tumultuous times we’re living in.
We recently spoke with Burrichter to find out how his inquisitiveness translates to his media intake, which includes the Failed Architecture podcast, Butt magazine, and an Instagram account called Dank Lloyd Wright.
How do you start your mornings?
I get up. I drink coffee. I try to force myself to eat, but I’m not very good at it. But when I do eat, I eat oatmeal or a banana. And while I’m doing that, I listen to either the BBC or the German radio station Dlf [Deutschlandfunk]. Or, occasionally—depending on what time of day it is, and what kind of news is on—I also listen to Al Jazeera or NPR. But I’m always less interested in national news, and I’m more excited about international news. So mornings are about news for me. And they’re not about reading. They’re about listening.
Another thing I listen to in the morning—and it doesn’t exactly qualify as media—are WhatsApp voice messages. Europeans love WhatsApp groups, and I’m German, so I have a lot of friends in Germany and in Europe in general. They’re six hours ahead [of New York], so when I wake up, I’ll sometimes have sixty voice messages. I listen to them in the shower.
Any favorite podcasts?
The most recent one I listened to is fashion-related. It’s this new Vogue podcast called In Vogue: The 2000s about the year 2000—the 2000s, basically. I really enjoyed learning about Juicy Couture. When I go to the podcast app, the ones I always go to are Code Switch and Failed Architecture. Montez Press [Radio] is always great, too—although I don’t think it technically qualifies as a podcast.
What are your favorite magazines?
The short answer is pretty much anything on newmodels.io. It’s a really good aggregator of a lot of different magazines that I regularly enjoy reading in both digital and print. Another one I’m always looking forward to is Buffalo Zine, which is a fashion and culture magazine. 032c has a smart mix of subjects that I love reading about. And [its founder and editor-in-chief], Joerg [Koch], is a fellow independent publisher. They’re all German, so I guess I feel a sort of kinship [with them]. Sometimes people forget that 032c is also a magazine—people just think it’s a fashion line now—but they still put a lot of effort into the print magazine, and I really respect that.
There’s also the Real Review and Failed Architecture, [which produces the eponymous podcast mentioned earlier] as well as Dezeen, which is an industry must-read, in a way. What else? I subscribe to Domino, AD [Architectural Digest], and Frieze. I also read Apartamento. I really enjoy every time those magazines land on my desk.
I’m also looking forward to the new issue of Butt magazine, which closed in the early 2010s. It was a legendary gay magazine from Amsterdam printed on pink paper. I was an intern for them briefly, in 2005, [and later the editor from 2008 to 2010], and they were a big inspiration for me to even start a magazine. And so they’re bringing it back, and I’m contributing to it. It came up for such a specific reason at such a specific time, and it’ll be interesting to see what they’re doing with it now.
What books are you reading?
I just ordered a book by the feminist scholar Sara Ahmed. It’s called Complaint!. It’s literally about the culture of complaining, and it’s supposed to be good.
There are two other books that I loved and recently finished. One was Retail Apocalypse. It’s about retail design [throughout] the twentieth century, and has some great contemporary examples in it—everyone from Telfar [Clemens] to Issey Miyake, and so on. The other one that I really loved, because it’s such a [huge], “eff you”–sized book is the Taschen book on Gio Ponti, the Italian architect. It’s beautifully done, and it’s exhaustive because it has [so much] of his material, printed on big pages.
One book that I always go back to—that’s always on my nightstand and that’s kind of evergreen, partly because I’ve never finished it—is The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters. The Mitford sisters were these weird sisters who were born in the early twentieth century. One became a fervent communist, another was a fervent fascist who was in love with Hitler, and another married a duke. They all have very extreme lives. And throughout them, they wrote each other letters, even though they were at completely opposite ends of the political spectrum. The entire history of the twentieth century is kind of reflected in those letters. They’re also an interesting study of family dynamics, and they’re quite funny, too. Sometimes I just read one letter, and I fall asleep. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it, but it’s always there for me to go back to.
Favorite TV shows?
When I like something, I don’t drag it out. I just binge watch it and get it over with. The last binge excursion—and I was kind of late to the party—was Succession, and I can’t wait for the new season. It’s [a lot like] The White Lotus, but White Lotus pales in comparison. It’s not nearly as fast and sharp and funny as Succession.
I don’t watch that much TV, to be honest. But I do fall into YouTube [rabbit] holes. I recently watched the documentary on Hassan Fathy, the Egyptian architect. I also love watching trailers from old movies that no one knows about. There was a Francis Ford Coppola musical from 1982, One from the Heart, that I don’t think anybody has seen. I watched it this morning. I hoard information like that, so there’s a lot of trivia in the back of my head.
Who do you follow on social media?
My social media consumption is ridiculous. I follow the Jenner/Kardashians. I follow dogs and other animal accounts, like Therapeutic Monkey and DumbPets. I also follow Dina Lohan, whom I highly recommend.
Any guilty pleasures?
One is The Economist, which I love reading when I travel. It is, as you know, a platform for neoliberal hypercapitalism. But it also has really well-researched articles, and the captions are funny; they have good image and photo editors. There’s something about already being in a super-polluting aircraft, blowing CO2 into the air, that makes you want to read a hyper-capitalist publication. That’s why I only read it when I’m on the plane. I would never read it on a train. [Laughs]