Now in English:
The "Hot L" interview

UPDATED (4.11.07) ~ Lucie Lacava responds to Juan Antonio Giner about his assertion that the "Hot L" happened first in Spain and Portugal. Discussion in the comments.

Many thanks to Area~11 editor Adrian Alvarez for providing an English translation of the interview he did recently with design consultant Lucie Lacava about the oft-imitated "Hot L" design. Here's what Adrian sent along ...

1) What paper was the first to use the "Hot L" concept?

The first project was the redesign of La Presse in Montreal. I worked on the project for 18 months. We started in 2002 and it was launched in the fall of 2003.

2) How was the concept born during that redesign in Canada?

The mandate from the client was to innovate and design a front page that looked like no other, especially in its presentation of the promos.

The main source of inspiration came to me from the Web. The way we navigate and get our information is by scrolling across a horizontal bar and down a vertical menu.

Newspapers have always had horizontal and/or vertical menus but had never combined the two. It's a very simple concept. But what makes the "Hot L" shape interesting to work with is the possibilities it opens up when working with photos.

Architecturally, it combines two formats on the front page where we have a Berliner (for the news) inside of a broadsheet (for the "Hot L" promos). It creates a strong visual space above the fold, which helps boost the newspaper's presence at the newsstand.

The shape was also conceived to be elastic. This built-in flexibility has allowed La Presse to create some very dramatic fronts.

3) Have you used the "Hot L" in any of your other redesign projects?

Only one other newspaper since, The Baltimore Sun, although here the "Hot L" is more discreet.

4) What do you think about all the other publications that have, in a sense, "copied" your "Hot L"? Papers like The Bakersfield Californian or Reforma?

I prefer to use the term "inspired by" ... I am flattered, especially when it is used beautifully. There have been many interpretations around the world, and some are very elegant. This concept is out there now, and I wish I could collect royalties for every time it is used (that's a joke!).

5) Do you think you could use this approach in a future redesign, or is that just copying yourself?

If a client specifically asks for it, I would apply it, but I would also try to push the idea further. Some of my best projects have given me the freedom to explore new directions. Not all of these ideas make it to the final, so some experiments are still waiting for the right project to come along.

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Anonymous Juan Antonio Giner said...

Just for the record:

Ricardo Bermejo and Javier Errea did the "L" before 2003 in the redesigns of DIARIO DE NOTICIAS in Pamplona, Spain, and in PUBLICO in Lisbon, Portugal.

Facts are facts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:12:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Mansfield said...

Thanks for that correction, Juan Antonio.

Wondering if either Lucie or Adrian can comment: Were the answers (or questions) perhaps directed at broadsheet papers in North America? Or is this simply an oversight?

Help us out!

+ The Blog eds

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Lucie Lacava said...

Before we start talking about "facts", we might also want to consider some proof. The 2004 redesign of Diario de Noticias marks the first instance of the "inverted L" on the front page of that publication. As for Publico, circa 2003 it looks more like the National Post. Let's not confuse non-modular design with the "inverted L" concept. I hope this puts the rumours to rest.

Diario de Noticias (Before) Front Page from SND annual #21

SND-E Article about the 2004 Diario redesign

Publico Front Page from SND annual #24

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Juan Antonio Giner said...

Dear Lucy,

I asked Ricardo Bermejo and Javier Errea to provide some of these front pages with the now so famous inverted "L" before your excellent redesign of La Presse.

I am not saying that they "invented" it, as I am sure that some research in our newspaper morgues could provide great precedents.

I was not involved in any of these projects.

All the best!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Adrián Alvarez said...

A note from Adrián Alvarez, editor of Área-11:
We made this interview with Lucie Lacava because we know well she was the first designer or consultant designing promos with this visual and creative concept. Not Reforma, not The Bakersfield, not any other publication...
It's a matter of giving credit to the owner of this famous concept.
I would love to see those pages from Diario de Noticias or Publico... maybe I can be wrong.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 9:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Adam Sommerfeld said...

I believe Juan Giner is referring to the May 2004 redesign of Diario de Noticias (Pamplona), please see link.


Thursday, April 12, 2007 9:38:00 AM  

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