Aiming to change the way we view interior spaces, Lorena Lohr and Louise Benson discuss their new self-published magazine Scenic Views
From the Horst era of Vogue to the Kardashian-clad covers of Architectural Digest, interior design and magazines have existed hand-in-manicured-hand since the early 20th century, but as photographer Lorena Lohr and writer Louise Benson’s new self-published title Scenic Views protests, the lens we view interior spaces through is due a refocus. The pair, whose friendship can be traced back over a decade, have collaborated on producing a magazine that aims to at least preserve the memory of what is not protected.
“I guess it developed very naturally over a number of years of spending time together in places that we started to realise were quite overlooked by a lot of other people. Forgotten places. London cafes or greasy spoons where we might go for a cup of tea, or in New York, maybe old, layered-with-history dive bars that people didn’t seem to care about anymore,” explains Benson. “Occasionally people would show up to places where we were regulars and they’d be gone, replaced by a new burger joint, like an international chain. That happened to us in one place in particular in London, a place called The Stockpot that we used to go to all the time. One day we got there and it was a burger place. We started to wonder what happens when those places go? Is there going to be any record of what so many people were treasuring over the years?”
In their own words, Scenic Views “examines the many different ways that people tell stories through their surroundings, and celebrates the idiosyncratic and highly personal places that are more frequently ignored”. Speaking to the pair it is clear that their magazine is not about lusting after a lifestyle, but comes from a place of anger, and a fear of precious but typically unremarkable spaces falling through the cracks of history. “For us it was about representing a different kind of person, but not so directly as that,” says Benson. She adds, “We wanted to reflect the mood of the kind of places where anyone would be welcome. And not just the people who create them, but people who visit them and build up those layers over time.”
In keeping with the spirit of highlighting the relevance of overlooked everyday experiences, alongside photographs of cafes by Lohr and anonymous images of hotels from around the world, the debut issue showcases the instantly recognisable but rarely exhibited art of British artist Beryl Cook. “She’s a really interesting artist that has been largely ignored by the more established art world,” explains Benson. “Most typically her work has been shared via cheap reproductions like posters and postcards. We were interested in her because largely the way her work has been seen has been on the walls of these cafes or bars that we feel an affinity with in the magazine.”
While Benson’s day job is deputy editor of arts title Elephant Magazine, Lohr’s experience as a photographer has seen her embrace the responsibility of self-publication – Scenic Views being her eighth self-published project. She champions it as an essential process for those seeking control of their artistry. When questioned on her experience of the process she states: “It gets quite necessary to do it that way, because otherwise you’re waiting around. You learn to be decisive and you learn that there is more value in being slightly stranded out there and making these decisions, which are permanent. I came out of a place where people were doing that and that’s just how you expressed yourself. You had to get it out, there was no question about waiting for someone.”
As the pair will happily admit, the triannually published magazine has been years in the making. Lohr, when asked to provide one piece of advice to aspiring self-publishers, simply says, “Be careful, but not too careful. Take your time, but not too much.”