The list: Quality of life - Issue 105 - Magazine | Monocle

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So by this point in our annual Quality of Life issue you’ve already met the entrepreneurs and architects building businesses for the better and scouted a few cities you’d be happy to call home. But surely quality of life lies in smaller tasks too? What might improve your arrival home as the door clicks shut? Could your leafy terrace be spruced up with some smarter outdoor furniture? We’ve unearthed a few simple fixes and natty nudges to improve your day – plus a big green barbecue, a bar set-up to be proud of and a stack of postcards on which to record your satisfaction.


Tray cool

A tip for entertaining at home: make guests their first drink then encourage them to fix the next at their leisure. This ash bar-cart by Winnipeg-based Thom Fougere Studio is a tasteful space-saver and its hind wheels make it mobile (when empty – careful there). Add a bartending kit by catering maestro Yukiwa from the Niigata town of Tsubame.;


Take note

A new entrepreneurial venture could well be a way to boost your quality of life so keep a colourful gokanshi-paper notepad from Japanese stationery firm Stalogy handy. Kaweco has made pens for more than 125 years but its Sport model is perfectly sized to pop in the breast pocket of your Barena jacket.;


Gear up

Founded in the early 1970s, Portuguese firm Órbita is well ahead of the peloton when it comes to two-wheelers. We’re a fan of the hardy steel-built 1971 SE model for its reliable Shimano gears and retro form. It’s an excellent investment for a civilised commute, whether you’re zipping through London or surmounting one of the seven hills of Lisbon.


Sit pretty

Despite our time spent touring tradeshows, we’re yet to see beyond Parisian designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s charming 2015-released Palissade collection of outdoor furniture for Hay. A tasteful way to revivify your veranda, the powder-coated steel collection is available in a choice of three colours, the smartest of which is forest green.


Apply yourself

We all harbour lofty ambitions to make our own pasta or bake our own bread but a few practical appliances from Swiss firm Turmix will ease your dinner-party prep substantially. A sturdy worktop-embellishing blender is a great introduction to the range.


Nice ice

It’s intriguing watching a skilled barman shape a vast ice cube into a smooth sphere – but cheat. Invest in an ice mould from US-based Tovolo and you’ll find the giant balls melt – and dilute your drink – slower than dinky cubes.


Card issues

No one’s advocating a return to fax machines but some analogue greetings, such as postcards, are still meaningful. We like UK duo Richard Sanderson and Esme Winter’s patterned prints and the missives they prompt.


Pack trunks

Keep a pair of Alessandro Aquilina’s Marané swim-shorts in your Rimowa. The Uruguay-based brand makes its tidy togs in Portugal, with bonded seams to stop material bunching up around the thigh and distinctive stitched pocket details.


Speak up

Take a refresher course in a language you’ve neglected. If evening classes feel fiddly, sequester yourself with an immersive week-long visit to the Regina Coeli language school in the Netherlands. EF courses in Berlin or elsewhere are useful, as is a handy canary-yellow Langenscheidt language dictionary.;;


New flame

Alfresco eating is a joy but too often poorly prepped nosh from bad barbecues diminishes the pleasure. Despite our saviour’s unlikely and faintly comical appearance, the Big Green Egg’s design took four decades to perfect – and perfection is no overstatement. The cedar-and-oak-blended coals add a subtle smoky note to its contents, while its dimpled ceramic shell does much for its looks. The sizes range from the small and practical to the gargantuan.


Throw shade

Dim but delightful, the Kalmar Werkstätten Hase TL reading lamp hails from Austria and has a brass-and-leather finish. It’s a tactile delight too: the leather grip allows for easy placement and is the perfect counterpoint to the polished fabrication. In our opinion the lamp is the apogee of this fine firm’s 130-year history.


Sleep well

What you get up to on it is your own business but time spent on your back is better with a decent mattress (minus the gadgets and technical fripperies that many companies are flogging). German footwear firm Birkenstock has been around since 1774 but sprang into the bedding game this year with six comfy latex-and-cork lie-downs.

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