Lost in Good Hands
Illustration by Jonathan Niclaus
LOST iN city guides is a Berlin-based project whose motto is that in order to get to know a city, you have to get “lost” in it. Aiming at the traveller who would rather feel as an insider than follow someone else’s lead, they combine impeccable design with tons of useful information.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Philipp Majcher: I studied International Business in Cologne and London, and worked at a globally expanding online travel brand before co-founding LOST iN.
Joseph Djenandji: I got an engineering degree in Montreal and worked as an e-commerce product manager in Paris.
Uwe Hasenfuss: As for me — I studied journalism in Berlin and worked as an editor-in-chief and consultant for several publishing houses and international brands—from Larry Flynt Publishing to Axel Springer, from Lufthansa to Guess.
How did you come up with the idea for LOST iN?
Joseph: The idea came from a personal desire to recreate — in a print product — the type of travel experience you get when visiting a friend in an unknown city. People are getting tired of the abundance of choice on the internet. But thankfully the hype about user-generated content has died down — especially with travel recommendations.
So my old colleague Philipp Majcher and I teamed up with our editor-in-chief Uwe Hasenfuss, who brought his experience in print publishing. We came up with the concept of interviewing locals from diverse backgrounds, asking them to describe the locations that define their city.
Your guides are not only practical but also a treat for the eyes. Is this the way to approach the contemporary—and more visually demanding—traveler?
So we needed an attractive visual approach. We’re happy we found it with Studio Node Berlin / Oslo, a design agency that combines functionality and beauty — without being exuberant in the layout.
Can you walk us through the process of creating a new issue?
Uwe: First we debate a lot. The selection of our local curators and interviewees is key, so that’s where we start. Once we’ve found our path there, we go in person to cross-check recommendations, organize photos and talk to locals. And then we commission a fictional story and artist showcase to reveal more of the essence of the city.
In a recent interview we discussed the future of print. Speaking of which, is your print version or your mobile app more popular?
Joseph: We spend most of our working weeks staring at our computer screens. So it seemed to me that print is the ideal medium for travel. It offers a break for the traveler when visiting a city. So we put an extra effort into the quality of our paper and printing to deliver the best experience possible. Our graphic design allows for comfortable reading with full-bleed imagery and a layout that breathes. This analogue approach is also reflected in our covers where the typography is usually linked with the city itself. But despite our fondness for analogue, we wanted to bring a parallel experience in a digital format. That’s why we offer a mobile app that complements the print publication. It allows the traveler to browse through recommended locations and create a personal itinerary to make the most of the city.
What is your personal favorite destination and why?
Uwe: I love them all — but I can’t wait for our Tokyo guide. It’s coming in December.
Joseph: LA, for the music, sunsets and dive bars.
Philipp: Ibiza — I’m getting married there this summer.
How do you choose the cities that you feature?
Philipp: We are trying to cover all the big metropolitan cities worldwide…
Joseph: …but the important thing is to have a good mix.
Uwe: We know places like Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris are sure fire for sales, but we also love to explore hidden champions like Frankfurt or Warsaw.
Is there already some sort of community being created around LOST iN?
Phillip: We’re still small enough to have a close relationship with our contributors and readers.
Joseph: We are also trying to support our contributors and give something back. This month we’re introducing a series of art prints — starting with an illustration from Jonathan Niclaus.
LOST iN is rather for the person who wants to feel like a local, not as a tourist walking behind a guide with a flag. Is this the future of tourism and what else can we expect?
It’s more about one’s own feeling then external perception: in Lisbon, I’ll always be recognized as a tourist, at least when it comes to ordering in a restaurant — and that’s okay. But I want to experience the city’s original flavors: local food and markets, designers and art from town. And I love to meet creative locals to exchange and communicate. LOST iN unlocks the locations where you can explore all of this.
Uwe: We’ve always said that the print guide is an inspirational piece for preparing a trip, while the app is a functional tool for getting around on location. Now we’re working on a service that doesn’t just help you roam the urban jungle, but also supports you with useful assistance. Did you ever try, as a non-French speaker, to reserve a table on the phone at some tiny new Parisian restaurant in Belleville? This is one direction where we see the potential to make your travel better.