The Kinfolk Home
We visit the magazine designer in her Hyde Park home
by Lizzie Duszynski | Photography by Giedre Krulikas
When Amanda Jane Jones sweeps open the door to her Hyde Park apartment, stepping inside is like slipping into the pages of Kinfolk Magazine: Warm, simple, and thoughtful with a nod to white space in all its quiet glory. For the unfamiliar, Kinfolk
is an internationally circulated quarterly, one that’s natural approach to design, stunning photography, and emphasis on the slow and simple life have earned it a place on coffee tables and nightstands worldwide.
And it’s no wonder that Amanda’s home echoes the same finely honed aesthetic of the magazine. She’s been the lead designer since its inception three years ago—a partnership, she says, that happened quite organically and serendipitously.
“[Editor and founder] Nate needed a designer and he had been following my blog for a little while,” she says. “I think our mutual love for a simple style was what initially drew us together for this project. Being with Kinfolk from the beginning has been a really cool opportunity where I was able to build the look. I got to design the magazine myself.”
The magazine—now the design-lover’s bible for simple gatherings—was born from humble beginnings: Round-the-clock Skype sessions in which the two hashed out creative ideas and brainstormed content and art direction.
Being with Kinfolk from the beginning has been a really cool opportunity where I was able to build the look; I got to design the magazine myself.
“Actually,” says Amanda, “the first issue looks very different than the rest of them. But in a way, we just wanted to get [the magazine] out into the world. Looking back now, it’s nice to see how it evolved and grew. It was hard and there are a lot of things that I think we both would change about volume one, but you know, it got our feet wet and it was a nice starting point.”
Within a month of its launch date the magazine had won the hearts of legions of readers and was even garnering offers from several publishers. “It was exciting! It's amazing to see how it's grown far beyond what I ever thought would be possible,” beams Amanda.
Now, three years later, the Kinfolk team is hard at work on its twelfth issue. And Amanda, like the magazine, has seen just as much—if not more—change and growth in her personal life. In the last few years, she and husband Cree have packed up and moved a handful of times, taking a tour that’s led them from New York and Michigan to Missouri and Switzerland. Late last summer, Cree’s graduate program brought them to Chicago, where they set up house with their little one, Jane, on the south side in Hyde Park.
“It’s been a rough winter!” Amanda laughs when we ask her how she’s enjoying Chicago. “But we love having the lake right here and Promontory Point. Everyone is so nice and Chicago just has a great community feel, which I never really felt in a big city before.”
The first issue looks very different than the rest… Looking back now, it’s nice to see how it evolved. It was hard and there are a lot of things that I think we both would change about volume one, but you know, it got our feet wet and it was a nice starting point.
With a little one at home and the freedom to work when she chooses, Amanda often finds herself working late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. At an uncluttered desk (straight out of Kinfolk, of course), Amanda sorts through hundreds of photographs and illustrations each quarter, pairing them with thoughtful essays and stories to breathe life into the magazine we’ve all come to long for each season.
When there’s not another issue in the works, Amanda turns her attention to a host of freelance design—picking up projects for companies across the globe. But no matter what big names she adds to her client roster—the Gap and Martha Stewart among them—her heart will always belong to Kinfolk and its accompanying cookbook, The Kinfolk Table
“I did that while I was expecting. I was the only designer working on it, so that was really fun for me and the publisher was very open to letting me do my own thing. It took about a year and a half from just starting to talk about it to planning for it to taking pictures,” she says as she flips through its pages. “It was a labor of love. A dream project.”