Elena Favilli about Timbuktu and Designing a Digital Magazine for Children

by Jakob Fricke written on July 24, 2011

Tell us about you: who is behind Timbuktu and what is your mission?

Timbuktu was born as a collaboration of young designers, writers, photographers and illustrators working on communication projects for children. Designing digital content for children is one of the most exciting challenges of our time. We wanted to make a digital magazine where children could find visually stunning content and intuitive interaction design. And we wanted to make it a place where they could cultivate their curiosity and strengths.

With Timbuktu you released one of the first free children magazines for the iPad. What is the idea behind it? How is the feedback so far?

Timbuktu is a digital magazine that puts everyday news at the core of its content. News is usually considered something belonging only to adults, something too serious and important for children to care about. We think instead that what happens everyday in the world actually matters to them and has a great potential as an instrument for growth and comprehension. Children are not only interested in dragons and princesses but also enjoy exercising their boundless imaginations as a means to know and understand the world around them. The feedback has been great so far! We have been featured on Mashable after two days and then on Grain Edit, Swiss Miss, Domus, Wired Italy and in August we will also be featured on Wired US!

Why did you release Timbuktu as an iPad app and not as a printed magazine?

We wanted to move away from the usual communication standards for kids. That’s why we chose to go for a visual identity that is simple but brave. We are a group of people who still believes in the possibility of making the world a better place to live in and we think that children and technology are a good combination from which to start.

You used the Baker Framework to build Timbuktu. What do you think of the Baker Framework?

Baker Framework is a great platform to publish on the iPad. It's open source and reliable and so far perfectly matches our needs. Some of the improvements we wanted are already available: multipage orientation for example. For the future we would like to see also an Android version.

Is there an upcoming next issue of Timbuktu? What are your future plans?

The next issue will come out in October! We are planning to become a quarterly magazine from the beginning of 2012.