The Opener | Monocle

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how to live: coming attractions

Bonjour, Paris!

As all eyes turn to the French capital in advance of the Olympics, the keenest among them will also spot Monocle’s new Paris base, writes Tyler Brûlé.

By now, the Olympic flame will be well on its way to Paris, wending its way across the country in advance of the opening ceremony on 26 July. But the bigger news is that monocle was first across the finish line in the French capital. Yes, dear reader: we are expanding both our editorial and commercial footprint with a fully fledged news bureau in the heart of the city’s Marais district. By the time you read this, desks will be set up and artwork hung – and a few bottles of champagne might have been uncorked.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sending out invitations to our little house-warming party. There’ll also be a series of launches – not only for our latest country guide, France: The Monocle Handbook, but also for our special-edition newspaper devoted to Paris. Even if you can’t come along to these events, you can buy both via For the Olympic period, Monocle Radio will be on hand with rolling coverage of all that’s happening around the Games, with a particular focus on urbanism, design and cultural initiatives.

Once the flame has been extinguished, we will likely join the rest of France somewhere on the beach. Then it’ll be time to get rolling on securing a retail space (hopefully on 1 or 2 August) to unveil a range of new projects that we have been working on for the past few months. If you have any leads on possible locations, drop me a note at Merci!L

Three takehomes this month

While reporting for this issue, monocle’s correspondents have brought back insights into the build-up for the Olympics, design innovations and more. Here are just three of the things you’ll learn. 

Experimenting off-the-beaten-track works – and pays.

Fashion brand Chanel has been breaking records at its recent exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, while also hosting in-person events in unlikely locations from Manchester to Dakar. Chanel’s president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, tells monocle that this has all created a special synergy around the brand.

Carthage has regained its cool.
In January 2024, Tunisia marked the opening of its largest contemporary art gallery, Selma Feriani. It’s an encouraging move that reflects the country’s cultural renaissance as an increasing number of creatives return from exile abroad following the fall of the dictatorship 13 years ago.


If you’re interested in modernism, Palm Springs is the place to be.
More than 130,000 people attended Modernism Week in Palm Springs in February, peeking into mid-century homes built for Hollywood stars by modernist greats such as John Lautner and Albert Frey. The surrounding city has also been buoyed in recent years by restorations of its hospitality hotspots, making it an attractive cultural oasis in the Californian desert.

words with...

Juan Ignacio Vidarte
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao


In 2023, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao welcomed a record-breaking 1.3 million visitors. On top of this, the undulating titanium curves of the Frank Gehry-designed building were presented with a American Institute of Architects 25-year award.

This year, the museum hosts major exhibitions by contemporary Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara and Swedish abstractionist Hilma af Klint. We caught up with the museum’s director-general, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, to discuss the gallery’s many past triumphs and its ambitions going forwards.

What’s behind the gallery’s current success?
It’s a combination of having an ambitious but balanced programme and international tourism getting back to normal. Bilbao is becoming a good destination for tourists looking for three- or four-day visits.

You have a Michelin-starred restaurant. Is food important to what you’re trying to achieve?
Since we opened we’ve been working with the same amazing group of people across our restaurants. We wanted the museum to be both a cultural and gastronomic destination. That idea was less common than it is today, as it was mostly a coffee-shop experience.

How do you think the Guggenheim Bilbao will evolve?
It’s crucial that we maintain the level of ambition we’ve had throughout the first 26 years. We need to stay relevant and keep providing an exciting cultural experience. But we also need to be socially conscious. One of our missions is to become a net-zero institution by 2030.

All play and no work

At monocle, we believe in reporting on stories in person, travelling far and wide to meet the people we write about and to actually get some boots on the ground before claiming to know anything about a place. This means many hours spent catching planes, trains and automobiles, and it’s a peripatetic life that can sometimes be far less glamorous than it might sound.


When boarding my flight from London to the Danish city of Billund to report a story on Bang & Olufsen’s latest install on its “Recreated Classics” series (see here), I soon realised that I was the only person travelling solo. Everyone else was accompanied by a gaggle of excited children under the age of 10. Billund is the home of popular toy brand Lego and its dedicated theme park, and it happened to be the first day of the Easter holiday break. Cue an hour and 40 minutes of having to endure screeching, Lego sets being proudly brandished and unbridled enthusiasm for a holiday to remember. 

Reporting from...

Monocle’s network of correspondents in cities around the world offer brief updates on LA’s new design jamboree, replacement buses – of the positive kind – in Bangkok and hope for nightcaps in London.

los angeles
Solid footing

The city’s first design weekend begins on 21 June. The initiative is led by brands and makers dotted around the city’s east side. Each day of the event is dedicated to a different neighbourhood, with visitors encouraged to walk or cycle between the open studios and garden parties. 

Hitting the brakes

The end of the road might be near for Bangkok’s antiquated public buses – museum relics and a black mark on the Thai capital’s environmental scorecard. The transport authority is due to start buying more than 1,000 cleaner, electric-powered replacements. 

The late late show

Bucking London’s dying nightlife trend are the recent openings of late-night restaurant bar Los Mochis City, near Liverpool Street, and Albert’s Schloss, a beer palace and cook haus in Soho. It offers a fighting chance to those hoping to keep the night time economy thriving. 

In Monocle’s diary for June...

As summer approaches, our team will be busy reporting from various events and fairs. Here’s what’s on our radar.


After taking in new collections at the Pitti Immagine Uomo menswear fair in Florence, our fashion director, Natalie Theodosi, will be reporting from Milan and Paris as she previews the men’s spring/summer 2025 collections.

Design editor Nic Monisse, meanwhile, will be in Copenhagen from 12-14 June to catch new launches and meet architects and designers partaking in Three Days of Design.

And on 21 June, our Swedish-speaking Helsinki correspondent, Petri Burtsoff, will be donning his flower crown to celebrate Scandinavia’s Midsommar, the mid-year celebration during which the sun never sets.

Election watch

country : Belgium
date : 9 June
type : Parliamentary


Candidates: Belgian politics are infernally complex. Power is distributed between the federal government, three regions and three communities. At the federal level, the broadly liberal-green governing coalition comprises seven parties. This is likely to end as the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats of prime minister Alexander de Croo are polling in single digits. Much of the running is being made by the conservative Flemish nationalists of the New Flemish Alliance and the far-right Vlaams Belang, as well as the left-wing options of the Socialist Party and the Workers’ Party.

Issues: By pessimistic analyses, the future of Belgium as a nation-state is in play. Vlaams Belang favours splitting the country between Dutch-speaking Flanders and a Francophone Wallonia, though it’s unlikely that it will be in a position to accomplish it: aside from anything else, Brussels is in Flanders and pre-election polls in the capital were topped by Francophone liberals and leftists. Immigration has become a more acute issue, not least because Vlaams Belang has made it one.

Comment: Since 2010 the difficulties of assembling a lasting coalition have seen Belgium go through about three years without a federal government. It’s not impossible that a similar stasis might descend after this election, given the declared refusal of so many parties to join any coalition with Vlaams Belang. All things considered, that might not be a bad outcome.

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