Since its launch in 2011, Kinfolk magazine, which the New York Times once dubbed “the Martha Stewart Living of the Portland set,” has influenced the way many eat, dress, and furnish their homes, promoting an aesthetic of austere minimalism and homestead glamour. The brand has expanded what it calls its “slow lifestyle” sensibility into books, beginning with 2013’s The Kinfolk Table. Now, with Kinfolk Travel (Artisan, Nov.), editor-in-chief John Burns is applying the publication’s worldview to exploration, spotlighting such destinations as Dakar, Senegal; Tasmania, Australia; and Tirana, Albania. Burns spoke with PW from Leros, a Greek island featured in the book, about Kinfolk’s approach to travel.
After food, interior design, entrepreneurship, and gardening, why did travel feel like the right next theme for you?
Travel has always been a big part of the Kinfolk wheelhouse. We’ve done a travel issue, we’ve done city-themed issues, and we have city guides online. But I’ve never really felt that we’ve put the Kinfolk stamp on travel.
How does this book fill that gap?
In the past, we established that the city guides weren’t really for us, in the sense that they constantly require updating, and the Kinfolk approach to lifestyle is slow. The idea of having an itinerary, or these fixed locations—cafés, hotels, restaurants—to tick off, didn’t sit well with what we were thinking about. We decided to make something a bit more experiential and focused instead on an approach to travel: how to travel, how to see places wherever you go, be it across the world or just across from town. We tried to be less prescriptive than a guide.
What was your approach?
We focused on one aspect in each location, and told that story as an example of something that you could do when you’re in that place, that you could do wherever you go. For instance, we did a story about bird-watching in London. Obviously, you don’t need to go to London to bird-watch. But it’s prompting a different way of experiencing London, or offering inspiration for an activity to do wherever you are.
How did you choose the 27 locations you highlight?
There’s a certain idea about what the Kinfolk stamp is, and I imagined that would be a guide to Copenhagen, or Stockholm, or Paris. We really wanted to get around that and emphasize exploration. So we looked further afield. We researched people and activities we were interested in and found the places secondary to those.
Do you have a favorite location in the book?
Well, I’m in Greece. But a lot of the stories in the States appealed to me: cycling around Idaho, fishing in Georgia—not-metropolis U.S.A. There’s also a great story about canal boats in the U.K., and seeing London and the home counties on a narrowboat and all of the subculture that comes with that. I’m British, and it embodies the idea of seeing a place that you’re very familiar with from a totally different perspective.