The opener - Issue 104 - Magazine | Monocle

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Istanbul’s caffeine fix

Never underestimate the power of coffee. Faced with a recent drop in tourist numbers, several entrepreneurial Istanbul businesses have added coffee shops to pull in street traffic. It began when bookshop Filbooks squeezed in a café to supplement its sales; then a vintage clothes shop in Beyoglu started offering cappuccinos on the side. Now there’s a fancy dress costumier doing cold drip and a marine sports shop with a milk frother next to the flippers.

Time to act your age

While waiting to board a flight at London Gatwick’s South Terminal, I noticed the woman beside me playing a loud game on her phone. Across the way a man in a suit was craning over a colouring book, glaring down at a half-finished dinosaur.

Do airports infantilise some people more than others? Where else do adults buy jumbo bags of crisps and fizzy drinks and sit on the floor with their hardbacks about a boy wizard? Maybe it’s the rules of airports that revert some to their school days: put your phone in this box and your laptop in that, stand here, wait there. Or maybe it’s the lack of decent papers, smart books and restaurants. People need to grow up – but so do the retailers that cater to us before lift-off.

What we’d like to see more of in June 2017

  1. The smart people at CCC in Japan (owners of Tsutaya) have done it again with their latest print extravaganza at the Ginza 6 development in Tokyo. More book owners need to follow their lead to reinvent this sector.

  2. Good retailers should find extra shelf space for the fine knits of Settefili Cashmere.

  3. More trees please around buildings on SBB’s new development along the tracks from Zürich’s main station. This project is in danger of becoming a barren corridor.

  4. When a bike helmet is required (and we don’t think it always is), Egide makes some of the most handsome-looking lids on the road. Give one a spin.

  5. More air time for Italian radio talents like Francesco Gabbani of Sanremo and Eurovision fame.

  6. Physical keyboards on mobile devices: that the latest BlackBerry sold out in hours at Selfridges must say something.

  7. Neighbourhood wine bars such as Clarette (down the street from our London HQ) deserve to be a more common feature in place of clapped-out pubs.

  8. Stadler’s train carriages for SBB’s long-range network putting in an appearance on go’s Ontario rails.

On the case in Hong Kong

One waiting game to play at Hong Kong International Airport is to count the number of Rimowa suitcases on the baggage carousel: the German luggage brand has more standalone shops in the city than all of Germany combined. Hong Kongers are fiercely protective of their aluminium wheelies – so much so that Cathay Pacific recently asked check-in staff to affix a “fragile” tag to every Rimowa in an effort to ward off potential compensation claims.

Neighbourhood watch: the view from a Monocle outpost

St Francis Yard, Monocle’s home in Hong Kong since 2010, is normally a quiet and convivial enclave in the otherwise riotous Wan Chai district. Yet our neighbourhood idyll has been upset lately by a turf war over parking spaces. On the one side: residents and business owners parking illegally alongside every inch of curb space (it is far cheaper to collect fines than buy a parking permit). On the other side: wealthy mainlanders arriving in chauffeured Mercedes and Maybachs who are unable to reach the corporate offices at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Regular calls to the police from both sides have upped the ante. Wan Chai has scant room for a fleet of angry men in oversized cars yet in a city where a single parking space can sell for millions of Hong Kong dollars, it’s hard to predict how, or when, the stand-off might end. As for us, we’re more than happy to use the mtr; to see why, head on to our interview with Monica Mondardini in 'How I Manage' further on in this issue.

Riding high

The mobility conference circuit tends to be dominated by planes, trains and automobiles but this year there’s another industry in the mix. The International Organisation for Transportation by Rope (otherwise, though less delightfully, known as oitaf) holds its cable-car world congress from 6 to 9 June in Bolzano, Italy.

oitaf, which was founded in Milan in 1959, holds the congress every six years and much has changed in the industry since 2011’s edition in Rio de Janeiro, with the use of urban cable cars as a means of public transport on the rise.

Norway’s nifty notes

When Oslo-based studio Metric was tasked with designing Norway’s new currency, one of its challenges was to ensure each note, up to the nok1,000 bill (€107), looked suitably “valuable”. So how do you make dosh look like it’s worth more than the paper it’s printed on? Illustrator Terje Tønnesen’s drawings of a lighthouse, cod, viking ship and wave didn’t shout money on their own: it’s the intricate background behind them that seal the deal.


From a correspondent, end of April, Munich Airport:

“From my Lufthansa short-haul Airbus I can see a Hercules transport plane. What’s a military plane doing at a civilian airport? And are those Gulf-state markings on the tail? Ahhh yes, springtime in Bavaria is peak season for shuttle flights repositioning muscle cars (Ferraris, Bugattis, Lamborghinis) for summer at Tegernsee and pulled-up outside the Bayerischer Hof.”

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