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The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Up to speed

Up to speed

1 I’ve always had a certain obsession with timekeeping. From the bells of the local church tower and the punctual start of the national anthem in primary school (is this still happening every morning in Canadian schools? I wonder…) to the pips on the radio before the start of the news, I like the formal marker that comes with the passing of time; the arrival of a new hour and all that lies ahead. While our popular culture is often built around the countdown to the start of a race or ceremony, I’m more interested in the counting-up: the sense of moving forward, of leaping into a fresh block of 60 minutes, the next day, a new year. I used to like the rather frenetic count-up to the top of the hour on BBC World News but all the whizzing and whirring became a bit too distracting. When it comes to putting a timestamp on the day, I like the solemn and sober on-screen animation, gongs and camera zoom of the Tagesschau at 20.00 on German state broadcaster ARD. Some years back we went behind the scenes at its Hamburg studios to cover the mechanics of this broadcast. If Monocle was ever to venture into the world of a daily newscast, this would be the model: straight-on, well-paced, international and refreshingly formal. Even if German isn’t your mother-tongue or second language, it’s worth tuning in as it’s a reminder of how a newscast can still be on point, broad and oddly comforting. Should you find yourself on the ARD website looking for a bulletin, make sure that you click on a programme with Susanne Daubner standing behind the desk. As smoky broadcast voices go, Frau Daubner is in a league of her own and makes the rest of the global rolling-news set sound reedy, squeaky and up-speaky. Back to my newscast fantasy for a brief moment: you might soon see a few more Monocle faces popping up on your screens as we set to work on a new studio set-up in London. While that’s on the go, Monocle Radio is also introducing some new sounds and will broadcast live from a variety of cities over the coming months.2 On the topic of watching the clock, I just achieved a new personal best in the race from plane seat to car seat at Hong Kong International Airport. On Monday evening I went from seat 1G on the Swiss A340 (these will be replaced by Boeing 777 service very soon), up the ramp, down the concourse, through immigration, across the baggage hall and through customs, before making a hard right for the pick-up lounge (for limos, not escorts) and settling on the back seat of the wheels sent from the Shangri-La – all in seven minutes. Yes, it helped that I had a near gate rather than a distant one. But if you’re flying though HK soon, then set your watch and see how quickly you can make it to the car or train. Rather than amateurs belting out songs in TV talent competitions, couldn’t an airport curb-to-gate champions cup attract big audiences and sponsorship? It’s just the type of programming that might suit Bloomberg’s weekend line-up.3 After Hong Kong, it was on to Bangkok on Wednesday. Shortly after touchdown, my colleague James suggested a meeting at The Mall Group’s new retail extravaganza, The Emsphere, along the way from its Emporium and EmQuartier developments. While it’s still a work in progress in parts, the ambition is enormous. Who thought that you could make Phuket-meets-Ibiza beach club alongside an Ikea work in the heart of Bangkok? If anyone can show the world that the concept of the mall is far from dead and just needs constant reinvention (and a couple of nightclubs), it’s The Mall Group’s chairwoman, Supaluck Umpujh. If you want a sparky and sassy masterclass in running retail, she’ll be on stage with a host of Monocle editors at The Chiefs conference in Hong Kong later this month. There’ll also be a few other sharp minds on the topic of retail, including The Lane Crawford Joyce Group’s Jennifer Woo and the very dapper Mark Cho from The Armoury, not to mention all your favourite Monocle voices (and faces) to keep the conversation and drinks flowing. If you haven’t secured a ticket yet, you can drop Hannah Grundy a note at or you can find the lineup here.

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