The Opener - Issue 173 - Magazine | Monocle

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how to live: the broader view

Go the distance

Tyler Brûlé on why taking a step back can give you deeper, more insightful perspectives.

As we finalise our May edition and ink hits paper at our presses in Germany, monocle will be moving on to two of the most important trade fairs on our editorial calendar. At Geneva’s Watches andWonders, the world’s biggest watchmaking event, our editors will, of course, cover the newest launches but they will be more interested in tracking shifts in sales. What markets are on the up? Where are the new connoisseurs based? Where will the next generation of watchmakers hail from? 

Shortly afterwards we’ll be jumping over the Alps to Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the largest jamboree for industrial design and furniture manufacturing. While you might have read our reports from Geneva and Milan in our newsletters and listened to our features on Monocle Radio, it’s the stories with longer lead times that tend to have the most impact. We aim to be on point and get things first but it’s also rewarding to give ourselves some distance from these fairs to allow our impressions to settle. 

Very often it’s the side q&a with the tiny Japanese watch atelier or the forgotten manufacturer from northern Portugal that suddenly feels right for our take on a certain current in the industry or has the most relevance to a story about sustaining skills. As much as we’re interested in the techniques that go into making a new chronograph or a collapsible chair, we’re even more curious about how people are working to prevent brain drain in Switzerland’s watchmaking valleys, say, or ensure that there’s sufficient talent to handle cruise-ship orders for armchairs in Italy’s Brianza region. — L

Reporting from...

Monocle has a network of correspondents in cities around the world. Our brief updates feature LA’s hottest new neighbourhood, party politics in Bangkok and London’s pedestrianisation plans.

Los Angeles
Silver linings

The Silver Lake neighbourhood is sometimes called the “Beverly Hills of East Los Angeles” and could soon give Rodeo Drive a run for its money. Several new boutiques are opening in the Sunset Row shopping centre, with more independent retail to come.

Making moves

The Move Forward Party shocked Thailand’s establishment in 2023 by winning the most seats in the general election. But now the opposition party faces the same fate as its predecessor, Future Forward: dissolution by the Constitutional Court.

Best foot forward

Plans to pedestrianise London’s Oxford Street have progressed to the next stage after two thirds of residents and local businesses approved the scheme. One of the capital’s busiest retail destinations, the regeneration project will increase pavement space by 40 per cent.

Style and substance 


On the hunt for a design for the first Monocle Design Awards trophy back in 2021, we tapped long-time monocle collaborator Harry Thaler. The South Tyrolean designer’s brief? To create an award that was not only distinct but embodied the values of the prize itself: practical, functional and beautiful. Thaler did not disappoint, designing a timber-bodied, brass-based trophy that doubles as a paperweight. “The brass disc gave it status and importance, and the ability to have a dual purpose,” says Thaler.

After initially being made with an oak body, followed by cherry in 2022, then ash last year, the designer was keen to do something different in 2024. That’s why this year the award’s body is made from offcut timber. “It’s scrap wood, so it’s a recycled product,” says Thaler. “There’s a message here about importance of sustainability.” It’s an appropriate evolution for the award and ensures that the trophy continues to embody the values of the prize itself. Curious to see which people, places and products do just that? Check out our Design Awards

Notes from the road


When reporting this issue, monocle’s correspondents have brought back insights into world leaders, education and more. Here are just three of the things you’ll learn in this issue. 

Stamps can be soft-power tools
Despite their diminishing usage, stamps continue to be used as a secret soft-power tool. We look into why these little stickers have such an impact.

Bengaluru is India’s Silicon Valley
The tax incentives and liberalisation of India’s economy has attracted multinationals to Bengaluru, which boasts about 67,000 registered tech companies and 13,000 start-ups. 

Creatives are flocking to Athens
The Greek capital has been gaining in popularity not only as a summer destination but as the HQ for many emerging brands and small boutiques. 

Jewel in the crown 


Milan is famed for its sciura, a breed of extraordinarily glamorous elderly woman. These ladies in mink coats, with Birkin bags and blowouts, adorn the city’s sidewalks and piazzas. Their diamonds, as the stereotype goes, are from Buccellati. The jeweller first opened in 1919 next to the Milan’s Duomo and has, across three generations, become a byword for upscale milanesità. But, surprisingly, Buccellati has chosen to stage its centennial retrospective not in its hometown but in Venice instead.

“Buccellati has a very strong relationship to the arts,” says Alba Cappellieri, curator of “The Prince of Goldsmiths: Rediscovering the Classics” exhibition that is on show until 18 June at the Oficine 800 venue on Venice’s Giudecca island. “Here, Buccellati is celebrating jewellery as an art form.” Cappellieri, who directs the jewellery department at Politecnico di Milano, has picked out gems from Buccellati’s archives to be displayed in tall vitrines in the old industrial building on the Giudecca Canal. From lithe, diamond-encrusted bracelets to a solid silver lobster-shaped table ornament, the pieces make for a formidable side show to the Biennale Arte. Historically, Venice was the entry port for precious gems arriving from faraway. Many of the city’s churches and palazzos are still embellished with gold leaf. Jewellers from Buccellati to Bulgari, which last year staged its haute joaillerie catwalk in Venice, understandably find the Serenissima’s ethereal air just right for their brands. Besides, every sciura enjoys an escape to Venice, where she can be found – more often than not – sipping a bellini.

Words with...
Tung Chiang
Studio director,
Heath Ceramics


Sausalito-based Heath Ceramics has established itself as a leading producer of world class ceramics sold across the world. Tung Chiang, grew up in Hong Kong and moved to the US in the 2000s to start a career as an industrial designer. — L

How did your experience shape how you approach the world of ceramics?
Industrial design gave me the necessary foundations on how things are made. It also taught me about the relationship between customers and consumer products. Understanding who the customers are and how they use things is really important. 

Looking at your work, what is your unique take or voice that is particular to you?
Ceramics, tableware for example, don’t usually come with a story but I want them to have one. Heath creates pieces with modern designs, as well as longevity, which will make them relevant for the future. What makes us different is this combination of future, past and present. 

Despite working in San Francisco, you are still inspired by nature. How does that work?
Nature’s designs have existed for a far longer than ours. A lot of people will agree that nature is the better designer. But that doesn’t mean that humans should compete with it. As designers, it is our job to understand that we are part of nature and then to continually try to connect with it. 

For weekly interviews, analysis and insights, subscribe to The Monocle Minute’s Weekend Edition, our free email newsletter, at

Springing into action

As spring rears its head (at least in the northern hemisphere), the month ahead promises a busy schedule but also some welcome moments of respite. Here are some of the events and happenings taking place in May that we have on our radar.


Full of the joys of spring 
In the Balkans, spring is a time for celebration. Bonfires set the night ablaze in Slovenia and Croatia at the beginning of May and you might even find our Ljubljana-based correspondent, Guy de Launey, attending his local celebration on Rožnik Hill. In Serbia, May means an excuse for a two-day picnic, including pigs on spits. 

All part of the design 
After a busy Milan Design Week, monocle’s design editor, Nic Monisse, will be keeping an eye on the emerging talent and trends that will be on show from Australia to the US this month. Lisbon Design Week, Melbourne Design Week and nyc 3 Design (including the fair’s concurrent trade show, The International Contemporary Furniture Fair) are all taking place in May.

Top-secret’ tipple
Stop into The Diplomat, a speakeasy in Hong Kong’s central neighbourhood. Operated by award-winning bartender John Nugent, the drinks menu includes small-batched produced wine and vintage liquors. But the reimagined classic cocktails are the most interesting.

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