When inspiration strikes - Issue 170 - Magazine | Monocle

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A moment of revelation that puts you on a fresh and decisive course. A simple change to your routine that restores your ambitions, your faith, your commitment. A hit of inspiration that generates a spark, that starts a fire (a metaphorical one – no wildfires here, thanks). Sometimes we go in search of these flashes of clarity, other times they strike us in the most unlikely of circumstances but, whatever their source, they can be all we need to give us a renewed and steely purpose.

This was the spirit of the briefing note that went out to monocle’s editors, bureaux teams and correspondents this month as we asked them to locate the people, places and projects that could change our outlooks, give us all a vision for the future (well, at least 2024). They have done well with their finds.

Whether you are for or against new year resolutions, there is something about the change of date that just makes you take stock and wonder what will unfold over the coming 12 months. Now, we are not going to tell you to hit the treadmill or go on a diet but, over the following pages, we will provide some modest suggestions for starting the year right for everyone, including all the civic leaders, diplomats and architects reading this. We’ll remind you of the pleasure of seeing the world through a camera lens – and using film in it too; take you high-altitude for a different perspective on the art scene; show you how to commission the perfect home, or an embassy; and lead you through the streets of Naples to see how slow fashion has existed in the city for generations. Sartorial swagger should definitely be on the checklist for 2024.


“As you know, heading out into the world is something of a founding principle at Monocle and will be key in 2024”

In our Expo pages, our design editor, Nic Monisse, joins in as he looks at architecture that inspires – how buildings can be designed to elicit elevating emotions from us. As he points out, no architecture is neutral but how some structures make us feel wiser, more focused, more in awe is still something that can be hard to explain: the church that makes even those with no religion look to the heavens and feel something spiritual emanating from the soaring walls; the library that bathes us in the power and potency of knowledge shared. He’s lined up a stellar parade of edifices that should hopefully make your thoughts fly too.

Then we drop in on the new Azabudai Hills project in Tokyo, a mixed-use scheme by Heatherwick Studio that delivers peerless architecture, offers retail that raises the bar globally and has an understanding of public realm that is breathtaking. It’s somewhere every developer and city maker should have on their travel itinerary for 2024. And a word on this. At a time when we need to be building better, making places that resonate and create communities, it’s depressing how often those in charge of the budgets and decision making are reluctant to see what’s already out there – and triumphing. It’s only by venturing out into the world to seek new inspiration that we can ever hope to shrug off cloaks of mediocrity.

And, as you know, heading out into the world is something of a founding principle at monocle and will be key in 2024. It’s striking how many media companies – big ones – have retreated to desk reporting, rewriting other people’s dispatches to give them a bit of a spin. But it’s only by being present that you get a sense of what’s really happening, what’s taking place just out of the frame. That’s why we are working on producing more events in 2024, looking to announce some very exciting physical-presence developments (sorry, I know that sounds obscure) and ensuring that our writers and editors go out and explore. It’s the only way to stay inspired.

As always, feel free to send me thoughts, ideas and inspirations. You can always find me at at@monocle.com. Have a good 2024. 

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