The Deconstructed Magazine & Relational Stories

Magazine content is developed and curated to capture broad lifestyles and sensibilities. While some content may have a limited shelf life, there is also a vast multimedia archive that is underutilized. Furthermore, while a given magazine issue is an artifact that makes sense as a whole in context, the individual pieces of content (i.e., features, columns, authors) within it span a range of topics, each of which may appeal to narrower niches of people.

Working closely with a small team of faculty and graduate students from the Design and Technology MFA program at The New School for Design, Hearst designed a media prototype that sought to reconstruct magazine archives, creating a new experience around more focused content. The initial research posed several questions: Because of the depth and complexity of archives, what are some new ways in which users can curate and organize their media? How can reader metrics be assessed to firm deeper and more engagements with stories? And finally, how can such an experience be designed for a small screen?

Using a rapid prototyping approach, the Parsons team developed the Glossy concept over the course of three weeks and premiered it at NYC Media Lab’s 2013 Annual Summit. Leveraging the Hearst API, Glossy enables visual and relational exploration of digital magazine archives across multiple screens.


Glossy’s interface consists of a grid of images; readers click through to discover related content, building a “digital trail” as they go. Readers can save this digital trail for later reference, or to share with others. This “unbundled” approach to the publishing industry permits readers to seamlessly navigate articles independent of titles and their issues. The goal, as described by the Glossy team, is to create serendipitous moments of discovery; for example, a Redbook reader may find himself on Good Housekeeping, drawn in by a particularly appetizing recipe.


Glossy marks the first startup success story to emerge from an NYC Media Lab open project. The team presented once more at NYC Media Lab’s 2014 Annual Summit to showcase the refined demo, having spun off into a startup.


In the last three years, I’ve gone from a Beauty Editor at a national magazine to a full stack web developer at my own company—a less-than-natural shift. Working with NYC Media Lab allowed me to find the common ground between the two careers: today, I am the co-founder of an editorially-focused tech startup born out of a seed project between Parsons and Hearst. I’ve found exactly what I want to do.
— Alex Samuel, Co-FOunder,