When Benji Knewman first arrived on the scene in 2014, it was the first English-Latvian print magazine to date. Three years later and preparing for its sixth issue, there still hasn’t been anything quite like it. Following the motto “life you can read”, the magazine celebrates the stories of people from all walks of life, but its pièce de résistance is the nomadic editor-at-large himself, whose own story unravels with each new volume. “Benji Knewman” is a man of around 40 years of age, undergoing a process of rediscovery by travelling around the world whilst learning about his Latvian roots. It is also a fictional construct, invented by Agnese Kleina with the intention of making a publication that is lifestyle and literary at the same time. Kleina first had the idea for Benji Knewman in 2013: by then she’d already garnered a reputation as one of Latvia’s first style bloggers, before becoming editor-in-chief the country’s interior magazine DEKO in 2010, where she met Madara Krieviņa, now art director of Benji Knewman. Writing about fashion and interior design, Kleina has always been driven by human stories as opposed to trends, a passion that’s found a home in her publication. Benji Knewman is an eclectic collection of voices that, together with Krievina’s content-driven design, never fails to surprise the reader.
Text: Liza Premiyak