Class of their own - Issue 117 - Magazine | Monocle

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Kolo Topdrawer

San Francisco

The latest Kolo Topdrawer shop in the US (its seventh) has opened in San Francisco’s artsy Haight Ashbury neighbourhood. This Japanese-American manufacturer and retailers offering essentials for creatives, carries high-quality, eco-minded products: from neat Danish backpacks and French eyewear to bento boxes from Japan. There is also a rainbow of pens and jolly Merippa slippers for when it’s time to down tools. “Every item is designed for peoples’ mobile lives, built to last and has a sensitivity to its environmental impact,” says Topdrawer president Peter Dunn. “Today’s creative professionals are constantly in motion, taking meetings and working everywhere from studios and cafés to airport lounges and home offices – we help them discover the best tools for work and life.”



São Paulo

Ageless, genderless and timeless. Brazilian clothing brand Handred lives up to its motto. The new store just off luxury shopping street Oscar Freire in São Paulo, showcases a collection that’s designed for leisurely mornings, long weekends and resort days. With Handred, Rio-based designer André Namitala, who opened his first branch on Ipanema beach in 2017, has brought the natural fibres of his versatile garments to a wider audience. With dusty pink walls and sand-coloured furnishings, the São Paulo offering reflects Namitala’s Middle Eastern heritage: “I wanted to recreate elegant clothes that can be worn in hot climates.”


Provider Store


Tara Bennett launched her homeware brand four years ago upon returning from a trip to Japan. “I was inspired when I came home. Things are made to last in Japan so I started this sustainable brand to educate people about investing in timeless things,” says Bennett. This summer she opened her first bricks-and-mortar shop in Surry Hills, which combines shop and studio. In the back visitors can watch Bennett sew, paint and make soy-wax candles (she also runs regular workshops). “I find that most of the things you see in the store are things that I have in my house; things that I love,” says Bennett. Apart from her own creations, she sells Japanese ceramics and homeware from around the world out of the white-walled heritage-listed building. “I built a little bench out front so people come by, pet my dog Pocari, have a coffee – and they keep coming back.”




It’s hard to imagine Lisbon without the art buzz but when Stet first opened at the back of an architecture studio in 2011 the art-bookshop had the odds stacked against it. Yet Filipa Valladares, who co-organised Lisbon’s first photography book fair, grew a strong following and just opened Stet’s new home in the gallery district of Alvalade. The shop’s shelves are stacked with artist editions, photography books and experimental one-offs – from Lourdes Castro’s 1970s herbarium to João Penalva’s stunning Looking Up in Osaka. “I look for projects that work specifically with the book format. It can be in the shape of a newspaper, posters or a simple binding that has its own logic,” says Valladares. Stet often curates “book shows” in collaboration with artists and the shop-in-shop, 1:1, promotes Portuguese design.




“I travelled a lot and needed a simple, elegant wardrobe,” says Italian-born Lausanne-based entrepreneur Bruno Grande as he picks up a cotton jacket and crumples it. “It’s light, you can fold it and it doesn’t crease.” Grande founded Ka/Noa, named after his children Kaia and Noah, in 2017 and is about to open his third shop in Switzerland. After launching in Lausanne, he felt the timing was right to open up in Zürich. The minimalistic space on Talstrasse is set to open on 26 September. “It had been my dream for 20 years,” says Grande. His menswear brand, founded in tribute to his late father who was an Italian tailor, values true Italian craftsmanship. “For me, it’s about preserving the know-how in the region.” The soft cashmere and wool creations suit men just as well as women and they’re made to last. “The collection is timeless and embodies understated whispered luxury,” he says.




Vor, the Munich-based trainer brand founded by Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann and Andreas Klingseisen in 2010, has opened a new studio-cum-shop in the Bavarian capital. The shoes don’t feature a logo; instead the brand’s signature lies in the diagonal stitching, soles and custom laces.

The studio, which doubles as the flagship store, is tucked away behind the lively Viktualienmarkt and once housed a launderette. “It was a blank canvas and we designed everything ourselves. This is our creative space and point of sale,” says Klingseisen. “We wanted to instil Vor’s DNA in the shop.” And so they did.



NYT Explorer: Cities & Towns

By Barbara Ireland

Travel writer Barbara Ireland compiled 25 pieces of The New York Times’ most inspiring travel journalism in this volume published by Taschen. The book takes readers from Mexico City to Sarajevo and Lisbon, exploring some well-known and far-flung destinations around the world.


Magnum China

By Zheng Ziyu, Colin Pantall, Jonathan Fenby

Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson visited China on assignment in the 1930s – more than a decade before they founded their fêted photography collective Magnum. What they captured for posterity were images of a long-isolated country clashing with modernity and the creeping influences of industrialism and the West. This is an emotive perspective on the changing faces of China.



By John Harris Dunning and Michael Kennedy

John Harris Dunning’s punchy comic novel, brought to life with illustrations by Michael Kennedy, mixes murder mystery, romance and plenty of soul-searching. Protagonist Adam falls into a fit of uncertainty following an injury, which ultimately leads him to femme fatale Morgan. Or is she...? It’s a colourful whirlwind of a thriller, published by SelfMadeHero.


Verner Panton

By Ida Engholm and Anders Michelsen

Verner Panton was a designer unabashed by posturing, pontificating and – if his portraits are anything to go by – posing. His S Chair (made by Vitra) may be his best-known creation, but this run-down of the rabble rouser’s work will leave readers baffled and aching to visit Spiegel’s Hamburg HQ for a glimpse of what the future used to look like (think Kubrick on ketamine).


Newspaper Design: Editorial Design from the World’s Best Newsrooms

Edited by Javier Errea and Gestalten

This is the perfect tome for those who enjoy flipping through a well-designed daily. From the newsrooms of iconic titles such as The New York Times to the cleverly designed pages of Argentinean paper La Nacion, the book takes stock of the best in the industry and features the best designers in the field. And there’s also a piece about Monocle.


Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead

By Olga Tokarczuk

This is a novel of strange wonder disguised as the memoir of a woman who lives in the woods, simply describing the trees, creatures and stars. Our narrator’s recollections are told in a spellbinding fugue state of spilled wisdom. Poland’s Tokarczuk won this year’s Booker prize for Flights; the door is open for more of her subtle force.


Comporta Bliss

By Carlos Souza and Charlene Shorto

“My first impression was the fragrance of this village, a huge plantation of verdant pines,” writes Architectural Digest editor at large Carlos Souza in the introduction to his book on the Portuguese town of Comporta. It’s an intimate exploration of homes by the likes of architect Philippe Starck, often blurring the lines between interior and exterior. A feeling of endless summer penetrates the book and flicking through it, one can almost smell the pines.

Shopping list


Brush and dustpan

Andrée Jardin

Jean-Baptiste and François-Marie, the grandsons of the master brossier who founded Andrée Jardin, inherited the skill of brush-making and continue doing exactly that in La-Chapelle-sur-Erdre near Nantes, France. This brush is made of natural and synthetic fibres to make sweeping up an easy task. It comes with a dustpan, made of lacquered tin, and is available in a variety of colours.;




“Mateus meets Sam Baron meets Yatzer” is the name of this collection for Swedish ceramics and homeware brand Mateus, founded by Portuguese native Teresa Mateus Lundahl. The collaboration with award-winning French designer Sam Baron and Costas Voyatzis was launched at September’s Maison & Objet in Paris and pays homage to the company’s origins. The contrast between the unglazed structure and the subtle hand-painted colour palette gives the set a contemporary edge.


Desk organiser


The theme of “working goods for good working” defines the objects picked by Zürich-based retailer Fabrikat, which carries everything from Japanese fabric scissors to this desk organiser handmade in the canton of St Gallen, a lush Swiss valley framed by the Appenzell alps. The wood (Swiss cherry, pear and American walnut), is carefully selected, oiled and shaped by expert carpenters. A fitting home for your fine set of pens.




Sibilla Soldini launched Soalp in 2016 with a group of friends, eager to create all-natural cosmetics that celebrate regional flora and fauna. The result was a soap line, inspired by Ticino’s nature around the St Gotthard massif. While the cosmetic collection is based on extracts of wild elderflower, the soap bars are infused with scents of the forest, lake and mountains – each with a unique blend of handpicked herbs, such as lavender, thyme, rosemary and chestnut honey.



Native & Co

This porcelain vase won’t topple over, even when laden with sprigs of lavender thrice its height, for it’s nestled in a wide cherry-wood base. It’s handmade in Hokkaido, Japan, for Native & Co, a homeware shop in Notting Hill established by Sharon Jo-Yun Hung and Chris Yoshiro Green. The duo produce their collections in collaboration with Japanese and Taiwanese craftsmen. As well as being beautiful on its own, placing several of these vases together (they also come with maple and walnut bases) makes for an eye-catching ensemble.


Bellhop lamp


Italian lighting company Flos teamed up with London-based designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby to design the Bellhop for the the Design Museum’s Parabola restaurant and members lounge in London. It was designed to be portable and rechargeable, making it as useful as the hatted hotel porter it was inspired by. A sleek button on the base of the polycarbonate lamp, which comes in four colours, provides a four-step dimmer function. This model is the first in the range, which has expanded to include a wall, floor and pendant lamp, as well as outdoor lights.


Carafe and glasses


This amber set of Swiss Borosilicate glassware, designed by Jay Vosoghi of Milan-based creative studio R+D.Lab, was inspired by the Velasca Tower, a modernist skyscraper built in Milan in the 1950s. The tower’s unique shape and rational lines are mirrored in the carafe and glasses, which were mouth-blown, hand-finished and signed by a third-generation family of glassmakers in Marostica, Italy. “Much like the structure of the tower, these pieces are a modern interpretation of the typical Lombard tradition, while at the same time satisfying the functional needs for modern living,” says Vosoghi.


Table linen


British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his team have launched a range of colourful table linen. The handcrafted napkins, tea towels and limited-edition tablecloths are made of fabric from northern Italy and feature an “O” motif (for Ottolenghi, of course) created by artist and long-time collaborator Ivo Bisignano. The linen is woven in Bergamo and printed using a traditional technique where the fabric is stamped with pear-wood blocks.


Salt & pepper shakers


The plaster used to make these handy shakers by Japanese brand Soil was originally used in the building of castles in the 7th century. The material has natural desiccating, deodorising and heat-resistant qualities, which make it ideal for Japan’s humid climate. The days of mixing rice with your condiments are over: these shakers, which come in the natural hues of the earth found in the Ishikawa prefecture, will keep your salt and pepper fresh.


Gardening toolkit


Gardening-tool business Japeto was set up in 2017 by businessman and amateur gardener Peter Stedman along with his children, James and Poppy. Japeto specialises in bringing lightweight Japanese equipment – everything from shears to secateurs, hori hori knives (soil knives) to fruit-storage units – to the UK market. “I had often thought about how inadequate the conventional English garden trowel was for many jobs,” says Peter, who has used the carbon-steel, wooden-handled Japanese tools for many years in his Sussex garden. “My wife and I knew just how good they are.”


Concentric tray set

Margaret Howell

This set was designed and manufactured for British clothing brand Margaret Howell by the designer and carpenter Asaf Tolkovsky. Made in Bridport, Dorset, each one of the five birch plywood trays fits snugly inside the other, ranging from just large enough to carry a bread basket piled high with croissants, to big enough for serving a generous round of drinks. It’s as good an excuse as any for an indulgent breakfast in bed.


The Little Stranger (2018)

Release: Out now in cinemas

Domhnall Gleeson is compelling as a doctor in 1940s England who’s summoned to a country manor that he once inhabited as a child. Based on the book by Sarah Waters and directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room) this dreamlike mix of modern anxieties and Freudian house haunting isn’t easy to decipher but its allegorical take on Britain’s class system will leave you with something to sleep on.

Advise and Consent (1962)

Release: DVD and streaming

In an age where tabloid sleaze has infected US politics, it’s tempting to see Otto Preminger’s brilliant CinemaScope vision of Washington as a quaint bygone era. But many of the political quandaries presented here remain prescient. The idea of most politicians having the best interests of the country at heart (however fanciful) is also a comforting notion.


Cat Power


Cat Power returns after six years with a record that confirms her image on contemporary music’s Mount Rushmore. Wanderer is a record about women, bruised beauty and strength amid the desert sand. Country and rock; grand and intimate; lively and unhurried; and that God-given voice.

Kurt Vile

Bottle It In

Philly’s prince of riffs gets better and better. Album seven’s got all the parts Vile-heads want: crunchy guitars, lazy-ass vocals, subtle wit. With it comes new-found texture, stacking of sounds, piano, synth, sax. You can hear that Vile was a founding member of the War on Drugs and has toured far and wide.

Anna Calvi


The British singer has made deep and interesting records but this is a happy breakthrough: a hand-on-heart thundering thing. It’s a coming-out record and a celebration of love and lust set free. “Now I want to play!”, she stage-whispers, as if Kate Bush were fronting Patti Smith in an alternate musical universe.

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