As we enter the New Year, we have a new president heading for the Oval Office, and a chance to reflect on the meaning of happiness and wealth in 2009 and beyond. And there are developments at Monocle HQ: an audio show and a carefully crafted retail venture. No wonder our editor-in-chief, Tyler Brûlé, is feeling optimistic.
You might have noticed this 19th issue of Monocle has reached your hands a few days later than usual. The reason is that we decided some months ago to extend our deadlines to wait for the US election result. You’d have to agree it would be more than a challenge to produce this 2009 Forecast issue without knowing who was going to be moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On the eve of our close we got our answer (thankfully the right one), our correspondents updated their stories or filed fresh ones, copy was put on page and we hit print. I know it’s perhaps not right to go public in terms of picking favourites but this Forecast is my favourite issue of the year – in part because it has its own unique pace, in part because it allows us to infuse the pages with a sense of optimism and our take on the future of everything from emerging regions to the best artists to load onto your MP3 player. At the same time, a double issue offers a brief moment to catch our breath just before the Christmas crush and the official move into 2009 – I say official because doing these types of forward-looking issues gives you the odd sense that you’ve somehow been residing in the future. Perhaps I have?
In two months, Monocle turns two years old, and we’ve been working on a variety of projects to push our little venture into new territories while improving existing elements. In this issue we’ve introduced our first annual survey of 20 people who need a bigger stage (rendered in watercolours by new Monocle collaborator Susumu Uchida) and five who need to get off (Ratko Mladic can be the first to come out of hiding backstage and Gordon Brown can close the door behind him), invited Alain de Botton to argue why the meaning of wealth needs to be redefined and profiled three communities that have cornered the concept of happiness in scales, micro and macro. Down the street from our London headquarters we’re also trying our hand at retail and launched our first Monocle Shop on George Street. Not much bigger than this magazine when fully open, the shop will give our publication a proper home (see our feature on kiosks on page 109). We also wanted to create a forum to sell our specially commissioned products and offer a selection of those hard-to-find things that so many of our readers are frustrated by because they can’t penetrate the Japanese or Korean websites of the brands that produce them. In the weeks before Christmas we’ll be hosting a series of special shopping evenings for our subscribers where they can share a mug of glögg with our editors and stock up on our new agendas and diaries.
On 28 December we make our most significant editorial expansion to date with the launch of The Monocle Weekly – our new audio bulletin anchored out of London, New York and Tokyo. Presented every Sunday from midday Central European Time, The Monocle Weekly will bring together our editors and contributors from around the world to look at the stories, personalities and trends that will shape everything from global affairs to consumer culture over the coming week. The Weekly will also provide our culture editor Robert Bound the opportunity to play his favourite tracks by recently discovered artists from lesser known labels and markets. I’ll be presiding over the whole thing from London – or wherever the news takes us. Like a good Christmas lunch, this issue is meant to be savoured. We’re always eager to improve and love nothing more than getting a good tip delivered to our inboxes. We’ll be off for three weeks over the holidays, but our various communication devices will never be far away, so do feel free to get in touch at email@example.com. From all of us in London, Zürich, New York, Tokyo, and on behalf of all of our correspondents, here’s to a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
For more from our editor-in-chief, read his column in the FT Weekend.