Chances are good that you’ve heard of Dylan Muhlenberg. You’ve more than likely read his articles, laughed, possibly been offended, and then went on to read some more. He’s been making a living off of his words shamelessly for over a decade now from GQ to Men’s Health Magazine to being the editor of Superbalist’s “The Way of Us”. Safe to say, his opinion clearly matters and it’s always fascinating conversing with someone who has been in the publishing industry for so long, leading the movement from print to digital.
Difficult to put your finger on him at first, he is first and foremost definitely a guy who just gets style and all things stylish. He won’t admit it and you’ll embarrass him by telling him so, but he knows where all the cool kids go – but too cool to go there. He’s the go-to guy on where to mingle, latest gadgets, travel spots…the list goes on. Dylan also just happens to have been a contributor at Monocle and Conde Nast Traveller. Let’s find out exactly who this guy is. Over to Dylan.
How do you tell the difference between a timeless classic and a trend?
By how long I’ve had it for. I’m fortunate to have been born into a family where my parents kept their good stuff, and have been handed down things like Levi’s 501s, Ray Ban Aviators and Morris chairs throughout my life. While a classic can trend, a trend won’t always become a classic, and for that to happen it needs longevity. So no flash-in-the-pan, flavour-of-the-week, Johnny-come-latelies over here, thankyouverymuch. Rapper collab sneakers that cost as much as my first car did? Keep ’em. My oxblood leather interior, cream exterior VW Beetle? Wish I still had it…
You’ve worked in magazine for over a decade. What is your opinion on print publications going online?
I’ve loved magazines ever since I started reading Mad magazine as a boy and it cost R3.58 (Cheap!). And I’m still buying mags today now that some can cost as much as a coffee table book. Which is why I have to disagree with the pundits’ breathless theories on how the magazine is dead.
Yes the future is digital, and we consume way more content online than what we do via some sort of tactile publication, but I don’t think magazines will die. Just the bad ones. My advice? Stay in your lane, magazines. I don’t want to read a PDF online, nor do I want to scan a QR code to ‘discover more’, and if I can already get it online then I don’t need it in print. Rather invest in more luxurious paper stocks. Increase word counts. Invest in better journalism. Create advertorials instead of running whatever creative Futurelife sent in.
Make a keepsake instead of something that’s throwaway. That’s not to say there’s no place for magazines to play online, and to see the true potential here the big-cheeses in publishing need to stop giving traditional editors fancy digital titles and portfolios and should instead just hire a 17-year-old latchkey kid developer and see how they’d approach things.
Our latest issue is all things Africa. Being a man who could live anywhere with his family, why do you choose South Africa as your home?
Because I’m a lazy man, I don’t even like going away for the weekend. No, I’ve put down my roots and I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it. Slowly I’m building up my fortified compound, which now boasts a solar geyser, a borehole and a patch of sweet potato and kale. Soon I’ll be completely off the grid and would’ve learned to eat the parts of animals that most people find disgusting. Insects are the meat of the future, and my family is learning to enjoy the taste of them by not picking the ants out of the sugar bowl. Then I’ll convert the double garage into an income generating flatlet and teach the kids Mandarin.
My Portuguese wife can sell whatever fruit and veg we grow and don’t eat. I’ll take Krav Maga classes and hang a pair of nunchucks above the front door. The plan is that even if Siener Van Rensburg was right, and South Africa does go Zimbabwe, I’ll still be able to live like a Rhodesian. My plan is to lay some solid foundations so that my privilege is timeless and not just a trend.
Who in your opinion is on the uprise in Africa – Who should we be keeping an eye on?
I’m fortunate enough to have a job where I get to put interesting people doing interesting things on blast. This keeps me in close proximity to the most talented young people calling South Africa home. So check out the Superbalist 100 and you’ll know exactly who to watch.
Staying on Africa, who and/or what represents the modern African?
Modern Africa is just the world finally accepting Africa for what it actually is, and not some Bob Geldoff music video version with flies on our faces. Fashion, art, music… we invented that shit, and it’s creatives like Petite Noir, Spoek Mathambo, Tony Gum, Lebogang Rasethaba, Lady Skollie, Lukhanyo Mdingi and the Boyzn who are just some of the disciples of this extremely exciting movement.
Something a person should try at least once in their life?
Have kids. They’re a great way to learn about yourself. I had my first child when I was 23 and the mistakes I made with her have been really helpful with raising my son. I think that by the time I have a third child I’m going to have this parenting thing waxed, and will be deserving of my “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug.
Best advice you’ve been given and wish was given to you earlier?
Hey, maybe you should put some sunscreen on.
Dylan Muhlenberg / The Way of Us / Superbalist
The Africa Issue is a celebration of the future of design in Africa and its potential to drive change. We explore the concept of ‘Africaness’, what this means for our aesthetic. We also dream big with bedroom inspiration and take you on a tour of homes that truly embrace the spirit of the continent. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #AfricaIssue.