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Deriva Paper

Deriva Paper shares the story behind their Urban Wandering Guide
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Deriva Paper

Published 2015.08.24

Deriva is a guide to urban wandering. It is a print magazine born out of the idea of enjoying the road and observing one’s surroundings, rather than rushing towards the goal. They want you to divert from the usual path; allow yourself to discover new journeys through the city, directed by architecture, their subtle aesthetics of their surroundings, and their instincts. Each print issue is dedicated to one city, portrayed through stories, essays, and neighborhood walks.


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Exclusive collaboration poster for The Loppist
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Deriva Paper
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Deriva Walks X Venice By: Samee Lapham
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Deriva Walks X Morocco. By: Mònica Bedmar
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The main purpose of Deriva is to take a pause. To pay attention to what surrounds you. We imagine our readers looking at details, detecting smells and sounds while wandering in the city, looking for what would usually goes unnoticed.
Editor, Helena Öhman & Creative Director, Marta Vargas.

1. For those that don’t know who’s behind “Deriva” could you tell us a little bit about yourselves and how the project came about?

Deriva Paper is founded and art directed by Marta Vargas, edited by Helena Öhman, and project managed by Arno Selvini. The three of us come from a variety of backgrounds: art direction, copywriting, music and interactive production are some examples. We all met through mutual friends and interests, and got united in the creation of Deriva, as we all really felt like the concept and format made us all inspired.

In more detail, Marta (founder and art director) created the first version of Deriva as her final degree project some years ago: “One day, on my way to school I realized I had never really observed that city I lived in. After three years living in Barcelona, I was still following the same paths every day, rushing, not really paying attention to what surrounded me. I was suddenly enlightened. I started to research and I found some studies about the observation of the city, discovering the psychogeography, a field of geography which studies how the urban surroundings affect our emotions and behaviours.

“Deriva (Spanish for drift), consists in walking without any specific purpose or destination, just following one’s own emotions and instincts.”

One of the strategies of psychogeography is the so called Deriva (Spanish for drift), which consists in walking without any specific purpose or destination, just following one’s own emotions and instincts. By doing that, we avoid being prisoners of our daily routine, looking at the urban situations in a new, different way. That is how Deriva came about,” says Marta.

Why does Deriva exist? What is its purpose?

The main purpose of Deriva is to take a pause. To pay attention to what surrounds you. We imagine our readers looking at details, detecting smells and sounds while wandering in the city, looking for what would usually goes unnoticed. If that happens, Deriva will have served its purpose.

What would you say is the highlight feature of Deriva Paper?

We are personally really fond of the flaneurs – writers, illustrators and photographers who set out to discover their own neighborhood using only a notebook and a disposable camera. It really shows the world through somebody else’s viewpoint.

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Inside Deriva Paper
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Accompaniment In a cafe
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Exclusive collaboration poster for The Loppist
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The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh By: Marta Leal
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“Colors are everywhere in this city. Especially in the market of the Medina where getting lost is done within the blink of an eye. Even if you were to try, you wouldn’t be able to follow the same path over again, it's kind of a labyrinth in the middle of the city.” - Monica Bedmar
The medina market in Morocco By: Monica Bedmar

What for you really defines Deriva as a brand and how would you describe the experience of reading Deriva?

What first struck us all when talking about Deriva on a conceptual level, is that the ideas strive away from our status driven consumer culture. Deriva is never about owning. It’s never about having to go to faraway places in order to explore. Instead, Deriva wants readers to take in their everyday environments and become more connected to them. It could be your own backyard, your commute to work, or simply taking a different path than the usual one.

“It’s never about having to go to faraway places in order to explore. Instead, Deriva wants readers to take in their everyday environments and become more connected to them.”

Readers can expect to get drawn into the urban experience with focus on one city (in this case, Barcelona), and apply those tools to their own city. We have focused on the details, the “invisible” through photographs, stories and essays. We even let some illustrators/photographers go out on a journey to record their favorite walks with a notebook and disposable camera. This content is meant to provoke new thoughts on how the readers, themselves, spend their time in the city they live in.

You have produced a series of posters in a collaboration with The Loppist. What was it about this theme that inspired or specifically appealed to you?

The posters are outtakes and high quality prints of highlights seen in the magazine, with a quote that ties our core thought together. Besides being a nice addition to the walls of four homes (it’s a limited set of prints) we hope that it will act as a little reminder of enjoying the road.

If Deriva were edible, what would it taste like?

Deriva would taste like the bread of the bakery on that alley you have never gone into before, or the fruit of the market that is in the opposite direction of the route you usually take. Or, as our french team member Arno claims, a “Madeleine de Proust.”

"What I liked the most about Edinburgh was all of its contrasts and harmonies. In Edinburgh, the urban landscape lives together with the rural; tradition alongside innovation; the formality and the festivity.” — Marta Leal

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Deriva Walks X Scotland By: Marta Leal
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Panoramic view of Edinburgh By: Marta Leal
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Campanile of St Mark’s church, Venice By: Samee Lapham
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One of the strategies of psychogeography is the so called Deriva (Spanish for drift), which consists in walking without any specific purpose or destination, just following one’s own emotions and instincts.
Marta Vargas, Founder of Deriva Paper
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Deriva Walks X Spain Photo: Adrián Cano.

There are a lots of things you can enjoy during a day of exploring ‘Retiro’ park. Just be sure to arrive on time to sit next to the statue in front of the pond as the sun sets, and you will understand why Madrid locals say that our sky is unique,” — Adrián Cano

Tell us something that you guys have discovered in the process since you started the project.

Deriva has taught us all a lot about how to apply the concepts to our own lives, as well as some business aspects. We would all agree to have learned to observe more carefully, to soak up from everything that surrounds us. Maybe to look up more often, to try to soak in the environment a bit more.

“We would all agree to have learned to observe more carefully, to soak up from everything that surrounds us. Maybe to look up more often, to try to soak in the environment a bit more.”

From another perspective, we have discovered that people are surprisingly open to take in the conscious way of thinking that Deriva proposes. The contrast in going from the everyday routine to taking things in with intention makes even more sense in our digital age. We didn’t expect that people would relate as much as they have done so far. Being authentic, spontaneous and aware of one’s surroundings, is a concept a lot of people seem to strive for.

From a business point of view, we are expanding to stockists around the world, and are very excited about seeing what’s next – which markets are interested in the publication and its way of thinking.

6. If you can say three words about each other, what would they be?

Marta: Arno and Helena were the pieces that were missing. Without them this wouldn’t be happening. They are both energetic, passionate and thorough, which I really like and appreciate.

Helena: Marta and Arno are the best team members I could wish for. Everything just works. I think those will be my three words, considering that their sense of style, concept, and strong drive for the project is already obvious.

Arno: It is a great feeling to be part of a team where our skills are so complementary, we learn a lot from each other.

What for you really defines Deriva Paper and why do you feel your customer opts to buy the magazine?

Even though each issue of Deriva is set in a different city, what distinguished Deriva from other magazines in the genre, in particular travel magazines and guides, is that our type of journey is less about the location and more about the way you perceive the location wherever you are. Our readers seem to like the approach, along with the material in the magazine. It seems like the location of the first issue (Barcelona) hasn’t stopped them from relating to the thoughts posed inside the magazine – luckily!

What were the challenges on the road to publishing the magazine?

In order to publish the magazine, we decided to announce a pre-launch round. People could pre-order a copy to a discounted price, and support the project. Without these orders, we would not have been able to realize the project. Even though we believed in it from the start, we publish independently and had to put our faith in the hands of our future readers. Needless to say, we are really happy to see people receiving their copies – one they might even have waited a few months to receive – and sharing their reading experiences and giving us positive feedback.

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Exclusive collaborative poster for The Loppist
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Deriva Paper spread
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“The ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration is not just a marvel for its exhibitions but also because of its history. It used to be a beer factory, now remodeled in a very modern way. The interior forecourt area is breathtakingly beautiful." - Erea Azurmendi
ABC Museum, Madrid By: Erea Azurmendi
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Market in Madrid By: Erea Azurmendi
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Exclusive collaborative poster for The Loppist

Any sagely advice for those aspiring to launch their own magazine?

Start big and then narrow down the idea. Maybe you’ve accumulated lots of ideals, thoughts, and liking of a particular visual style and tone of voice. Sort all these fragments through and see how you can boil it down to something that you – and others will understand once it’s printed.

“Don’t be afraid of the digital times we live in. Analog has a place in the scheme of things, too.”

Do lots of research among friends and strangers who also love magazines, or the topics of your magazine – it will make it easier to figure out how to reach interested readers once you are all launched. And most importantly: don’t be afraid of the digital times we live in. Analog has a place in the scheme of things, too.

You are based out of Stockholm, how does living there influence your creativity or the direction of your work?

We love this city because of its size, its varying architecture, and the inhabitant’s interest for design and art in all shapes and forms. We are a diverse team, with roots from Spain, France, and Northern Sweden. Somehow, we’ve all fallen in love with this city, even though it’s dark and cold for almost 6 months of the year – which definitely makes us all pretty productive as we can’t just lay out in the sun all year round :)

What did you set out to achieve with the Deriva Paper as a project, and do you feel you have achieved these goals?

We really did launch Deriva because we all connected to the idea of the magazine. We hoped that people would be interested in it, too, and that some stockists would join in. We are still an annual magazine, but hope to be able to amp the periodical speed up in the future. That’s probably the next and last step. But until then, we are very happy to see interest from all corners of the globe, and to be able to exchange thoughts with our readers in real life and digitally.

What exciting stuff have you lined up for issue 2 of Deriva Paper?

Issue Two will be set in Stockholm, and we have already found some great writers and photographers for the issue. We are looking to go deep into questions about the city’s building blocks, surfaces, and are hoping to expand the magazine with one new feature. Keep posted!

This is the end of Deriva Paper’s story
Photo credits: Deriva Paper, Samee Lapham, Erea Azurmendi, Adrián Cano,
Marta Leal, Mònica Bedmar , & Lorena Fernández

Deriva Paper

Urban Wandering Guide


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