Stefan Bogner is a man with passion for the road. When he launched Curves Magazine in 2009 he saw a gap in the market for a travel guide that celebrated the joy of the journey. Aimed at everyone who enjoys adventures on two wheels or four, Curves quickly gained a cult following, filling a niche somewhere between Top Gear and Lonely Planet. Each issue focuses on a single area or country, its 300+ pages mixing awe-inspiring photography with breath-taking scenery and insider travel tips on where to eat and sleep. We catch up with Bogner between road trips to find out why Curves is essential reading for people like us who live for the adventure of the open road.
How did Curves magazine come about?
I ran a design agency for a couple of decades and worked on a lot of travel magazines. I’ve also owned some Porsches for years. I drive a lot in the Alps, and I wondered why there weren’t any magazines for people like me who like to travel around, whether that’s with a motorbike or a car. And that’s how it started. I just thought “I have to do one”.
On your website, you call Curves a car magazine without cars. That’s an interesting angle.
The road belongs to everyone. In Curves we don’t show a car on the roads. We show empty roads. The most important thing is the people and the community. People driving around having a great time, sharing experiences and creating memories. It’s not about the car. It’s about the trip. You won’t forget a good trip. Whether by car, bike, motorcycle or skateboard. It’s not about speed and the adrenalin rush but enjoying the landscape and the mountains.
Launching a magazine is not an easy business. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
I thought nobody will buy it at first. But I did so much work for publishers and we always told our clients just to push ideas forward and try it out. So, I took my own advice. I figured I’d sell maybe 200 copies but after a few weeks the first issue was sold out and I thought, now I have to continue. At first, I was thinking “who needs a print magazine” but people who like cars and bikes prefer the analogue touch. I’ve since made about 10 books and 14 magazines.
How big is the team?
The team is very small. It’s me and my best friend who is my assistant. I do the design and photography and my friend writes. We travel light. We like to say that the team and our equipment is big enough to fit in a 911.
You’re a bit of a Porsche fan. What’s in your garage?
I’ve got five Porsches. Two old race cars, two normal newer ones and a 911 GTS. I was going to get a GT3 Touring but we do a lot of car-to-car photography from the sunroof and the GT3 doesn’t have one so I had to buy a GTS. My favourite is probably my 911 ST race car from the 1970s. I rebuilt one because there were only 25 were ever built. It’s a fully analogue experience.
Where have you been lately?
For Curves 12 we went to Thailand. We spent a month there and we couldn’t believe how good the roads were. The north of Thailand is like a never ending Nürburgring. I call it the Tuscany of Thailand because there are rolling hills, the roads are flawlessly surfaced and largely deserted, the weather is perfect, and the food is awesome.”
A month in Thailand sounds epic. I guess you’re on the road a lot?
I’m travelling a lot. My family doesn’t like it too much. We covered nearly 7,500kms in Thailand. We needed four weeks to do that. But we can make the magazine quickly. Our production cycle is two weeks. And we only travel in spring and fall when the roads are quieter.
Where’s your most memorable place?
I’m based in Munich so I’m very close to the Alps and the Dolomites, which are great. Thailand was mind blowing. You would never believe there’s roads like this there. I was shocked, in a good way. There were so many curves. Scotland, landscape wise, is so nice. The roads aren’t very windy but even just going through the landscape is beautiful. But I find that if you look hard enough you find good roads everywhere. Coming up I have Portugal, Japan and New Zealand and I really want to explore Ireland.