There are reasons for optimism in 2021, says Andrew Tuck as Tyler Brûlé passes the baton.
tyler brûlé: It’s a new year and a new issue that also marks a new gig – both for me and Andrew Tuck. Having anchored this page for 14 years, I’m happy to pass the keyboard over to Andrew as he takes up the editor-in-chief post here at monocle. As he’s been running much of this show since launch, I can assure you that you’re in safe hands. From the new editorial director and chairman’s suite in Zürich, I’ll be keeping an eye on our overall brand and developing new projects powered by our own editorial steam, and working on new extensions and partnerships. So without further ado, Andrew, it’s over to you.
andrew tuck: Optimistic. That’s a word I reach for when explaining monocle’s take on the world. And even after a year when everyone has had plans derailed, travel curtailed and opportunities snatched away, it sums up the mood both at monocle and on the pages of this magazine. Yes, we have had to re-engineer our business because of Brexit, reshape how our offices and bureaux run because of coronavirus, and refocus – at speed – the way that we work in recent months. But the optimistic bit is intact. Well, most days. A few leave you thinking, “Could we slow down with the headlines for a bit?”
What’s more, our aspirations to get out into the world, know what’s over the horizon, meet people face-to-face, have frank conversations away from social media and be among lots of friends are also unchecked. It’s not naivety; it’s simply a belief that things can be OK. Yet when you are being buffeted by history, it can be hard to catch your breath, dream a bit, make those plans and set ambitions for the longer term. This is especially true when there are too many soothsayers proclaiming all sorts of nonsense, from the death of the city to the end of the office.
Ignore the futurologists, here’s what seems likely. The rollout of vaccines, the rise of better treatments for coronavirus, social measures and an acceptance of some risk will change the gloomy narrative and, as that happens, people will be eager to hit play on their lives. As this happens, and only then, will we begin to see how much the past year has changed how we’re going to live and how much of the “new normal” will vanish in the dustcart of time.
In recent weeks, as we’ve spoken to hotel owners, the more nimble retailers and developers, there’s a strong belief at play that cities are not dead but just ripe for reinvention; that while some people will have left big metropolises for ever, others will return or take their places; and that the office will re-emerge as essential to any business that has a company culture worth defending.
So for this issue we have pulled apart our usual Affairs to Inventory format and switched up our familiar mix of paper stocks. In the dark of the northern winter we felt that it was the right time to share some sunnier inspirational ideas, throw down a few challenges about how we treat one another and suggest stop-off points for future adventures. There are 50 of these ideas and they have some common touchpoints: slow down, help out where you can, do more for your city, be healthy, go off-piste, get dressed for work and have some wild nights too. They hint at a new optimism and an improved way of living.
That’s why, as this issue went to press, we met at our Zürich HQ to discuss where and when our annual Quality of Life Conference will return, our forthcoming projects in print, new seasonal papers, the books in production for 2021 and how radio will push ahead. There will be some tweaks along the way but the important thing as a new year starts is to have an optimistic plan. You can contact me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org and our editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, at email@example.com. Here’s hoping that you have a good year.