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The Entrepreneurs

laura kramer on...
Elevated insights

Private and commercial pilot Edwin Brenninkmeyer is betting big on the future of aviation. “The sector has changed a great deal. Chiefly, funding is increasingly available to help make aviation more sustainable,” he tells monocle.

As the founder and ceo of Oriens Aviation, which is  based in Biggin Hill (home to a private airfield) and is the exclusive Pilatus and Tecnam UK aircraft distributor, Brenninkmeyer knows the business from inside and out of the cockpit. “Aviation is a conservative industry,” he says. “New technologies have a hard time gaining certification and acceptance but I’m convinced we will succeed as long as people don’t get frustrated and lose interest. 


His passion for flight started at a young age. “I always loved model aeroplanes,” he says. He earned a private pilot’s licence at 17. But Brenninkmeyer’s career initially followed a different trajectory. His early professional years were spent in retail, gaining insights into leadership and team management. After a stint in venture capital watching the growth in the aviation sector, he returned to the skies. “There was a big opportunity in the mid-2000s with technology entrepreneurs producing cost-effective jets,” he says.

The company was founded on a vision of democratising business aviation and provides services including sales, charter management and plane maintenance. Business is booming, especially in the US. “The whole infrastructure there is very different from Europe,” he says. “Seventy to 80 per cent of US business aviation customers are middle management, so it’s not just for the rich and famous,” he says. Brenninkmeyer hopes to change attitudes closer to home too. “In Europe business aviation is often seen as a frivolity rather than a practical tool to save time.” With the company’s values and foundation set, his focus is ethical business and refined hospitality. “If you have a good culture within your company, that translates to your customers.” 

Brenninkmeyer is keen on opportunities to support the industry and the investment it’s receiving for innovation.  “If you’re developing hydrogen-powered aircraft that are more environmentally friendly, what infrastructure will those aircraft need?” he says. “That’s the next step.” — L

For more top-flight stories, tune in to Monocle Radio’s business show ‘The Entrepreneurs’.

retail —  manila

Paper state

Spruce Gallery opened in Metro Manila at the end of 2023, close to the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank. Both share a similar mission to provide life-improving infrastructure – on a different scale. While the bank finances dams, the gallery is plugging a media hole in the Philippines’ largest metropolis. “We are the only magazine store in the entire city,” says Ric Gindap, who founded the gallery with his business partner Bonnapart Galeng. 

The smart space displays imported magazines alongside a rotating art exhibition. Galeng sits at the counter to provide recommendations, while chairs invite lingering. The absence of a website encourages visitors to come here to discover new titles, as well as create a community around print. Competitive pricing is another draw.


Gindap and Galeng decided to act when the major bookshop chains gave up on stocking print titles. “They just pile up the back issues in one corner and expect people to respond,” says Gindap, who was the editor of Memo magazine when Galeng joined in 2006, eventually becoming its fashion editor. “Our dna is really in magazine creation,” says Gindap.

The response to Spruce Gallery has been both encouraging and educational. Independent titles have been flying off the shelves faster than they can be restocked, while venerable or established fashion glossies have been slower sells. Teens and twenty-somethings are buying text-heavy publications with few pictures; The Paris Review and The Monocle Companion (our own paperback essay series) are bestsellers. “These kids are bombarded with digital images all the time,” says Galeng. “They’re a reading generation and want to hold something that’s tactile.”

pottery — japan

Star glazing

The small Japanese city of Tajimi, famous for its rich clay soil, has a 1,300-year history of pottery. The city has been at the centre of Japanese tile production since the early 20th century and 90 per cent of tiles made in Japan now come from here – an output offset by smaller makers producing tiles using traditional techniques. 

Masashi Kasai founded Tajimi Custom Tiles (tct) in 2020 to connect architects and designers with skilled makers who could produce bespoke tiles that had the handmade feel of pottery. tct’s presence recently expanded in Tajimi thanks to a new gallery and kiosk where designers can peruse samples, order from its semi-custom range (39 shapes in 100 colours) and buy one-off pieces. 

Kasai wants tct to grow and, buoyed by the low yen, overseas sales have been brisk, with projects for luxury brands and Melbourne’s new Parkville Station. tct’s Zürich-based creative director, David Glättli has also introduced collaborations with international designers to display possibilities.

“Factors beyond our control, such as interest rates, can affect our sales,” says Kasai. “But the overseas market for Japanese tiles is definitely expanding.”

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