uncle sam 217x300 Artists: Richard Branson invites you to redesign Project magazines coverSir Richard Branson unveiled his new iPad magazine, “PROJECT,” at a press conference in New York City this morning. We covered the official launch, including a sleek video preview of Project’s first issue, what Branson believes represents the next evolution of media.

After initial mockups for advertisers in June, a team of 20 people from Virgin Media and Seven Squared went to work on the iPad magazine. 7 weeks of sleepless nights later and Project was ready for its unveiling.

The magazine itself is shiny, sparkly and full of special effects that not only make you go ooh and aaah, but also a-ha! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s designed to be cooler than Wired with an editorial vibe similar to Fast Company with more emphasis on travel, for obvious reasons. Anthony Noguera, editor of PROJECT is placing all of his efforts on the iPad app, as opposed to beefing up the mobile website. Free content on the site will be from PROJECT’s blog and repurposed from previous issues. But if you want the new, juicy, flashy content, you’ll have to pay (priced at £1.79/$2.99 per issue).

Editorial aside, the iPad mag is definitely geared to reinvent the digital advertising space. Each advertiser was specifically selected from a hungry pool of potentials. The advertising in PROJECT is every bit as eye-catching as the editorial content –  launch partners Lexus, American Express, Panasonic, Ford UK, Ford Canada and Kronenbourg 1664.

Simon Chappell, Business Development Director at Seven Squared, said: “PROJECT’s advertising partners have worked with us to develop creative concepts that allow consumers to interact with their brands in a new and exciting way. We are looking forward to working with our advertising partners now and in the future to take advantage of the advertising opportunities PROJECT provides.”

Anthony Noguera, editor of PROJECT, said in New York: “I must be the luckiest editor alive. To be given the opportunity to create a magazine that is completely unique and innovative, to work with like-minded journalists, contributors and advertisers who are just as passionate and excited as I am about PROJECT has been inspiring. I am proud of PROJECT. Proud of what we have achieved and delighted to have played a small part in determining what will become the future of what we as readers expect from the magazines of tomorrow. Today, PROJECT has set the standard.”

I sat down for an exclusive interview with Project’s Editor in Chief, Anthony Noguera and Holly Branson, Richard’s 29-year-old daughter who originally gave the idea a green light three months ago. Aside from the reinvention of new media and advertising, the theme of the morning was crowdsourcing and collaboration. So I asked, how will the future of Project include such themes?

 Artists: Richard Branson invites you to redesign Project magazines coverFor artistic collaboration, Noguera is calling for your designs. They are holding a competition for people to redesign the front cover. The best entries will be featured in a special download available with issue 3 and the winner will then get to design the actual front cover of a crowd-sourced issue coming next year. But to enter the competition you need to get the brief: Four paper figures are touring New York, San Francisco, and London (and more cities may be announced) and each of them holds the co-ordinates to 5 USB dead-drops around these cities. The brief is on these USB sticks. So put on your best cold-war spy face, take your laptop and go get it.

For editorial crowdsourcing, PROJECT will be looking for “Project Managers” to take the lead on editorial. “We want sharp, new talent, people that haven’t had a career in writing per se. We want to go to Finland and find someone who knows all the best bars in Finland. We’ll put them in front of a jury of Project staff and local people who know the culture, and if they agree with your bar choices, then you could be Finland’s next Project Manager,” Noguera says with a smile. The Editor-in-Chief clearly loves his job.

Stay tuned for details of PROJECT’s progression. While he couldn’t divulge details, PROJECT’s lead developer hinted at some seriously cool functionality coming down the pipeline.