We’ve been getting very excited about our new offices over the past few months, but the wait is finally coming to an end. And 2011 is already shaping up to be an exciting year, with new projects, radio studios and a recruitment drive, writes Tyler Brûlé.
Happy New Year and welcome to this 40th issue of Monocle. In the run-up to the Christmas close-down we were quite convinced we’d be waving goodbye to our old digs at Boston Place and kicking off 2011 from our new home around the corner. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Given the special nature of the UK’s legal system and a landlord that required signatures from all board members (all who seemed to be based in places without FedEx services), our optimistic move-in date didn’t materialise and we’re still at our old offices about to start production on our fourth anniversary edition – in rather cramped conditions. The good news, however, is that our March issue will be the last one produced here as the signatures were collected in mid-December and we could finally hit the play button on the great march to our new home.
As we’re familiar with the concept of hitting deadlines and running elaborate production schedules, all of the key elements were put in order while the ink was drying. (Some of our dear readers in London even had the good fortune of coming along to our Christmas shopping evening that we hosted in the space before the wrecking ball started to swing.)
To pull the building overhaul off over the coming weeks we’re lucky that colleagues from our sister firm Winkreative have taken on the task of running the entire production and ensuring that the timeline is followed, budgets are on track, wood finishes are matt rather than gloss, the entire lighting grid is dimmable and doors slide-glide silently on Swiss-made tracks. The whole effort is led by Nicoletta Pedano (Swiss-Italian) and her trusty deputy Jun Saito (Japanese). It’s a winning combination as both are obsessed with details and deadlines, and also come from cultures that take pride in precision construction. At the same time we also get the diplomatic skills of a Swiss-Japanese combo with the added bonus of some feisty Italian blood to deal with more complex negotiations that require theatrics and good old hard power.
While Nicoletta and Jun worry about everything from cross-ventilation to the angles of shower nozzles, creative director Richard Spencer Powell has been working on the identity for the mid-century building. A few legal and internet searches revealed that a variety of different names have graced the front door and our lawyer suggested we might want to go through our own naming exercise to clean things up. It took a few glasses of wine after the production of Alpino to come up with a shortlist and a few squiggles in Richard’s notebook to settle on a name that looked graphically handsome and also reflected the building’s setting.
Midori House (“greenery” in Japanese) will be the name of our new HQ and will house not only the operations of the magazine but also Winkreative, an event space, radio studios and a few other surprises. With the right planning we reckon we can grow to around 110 staff and host cocktail parties for around 250 – and we promise not to use that sickly Midori liqueur in any cocktails we’ll be serving over the coming months.
Richard and Yoshi are working on a signage programme that will guide people through the space and are toying with the idea of developing a special set of logos for our ground transport. For the past two years we’ve been rather taken by the Shinkansen-style looks of the Nissan Elgrand and whenever I pass Rich’s desk I catch him on the firm’s website admiring its sharp angles. If you spot a black Elgrand racing around Greenwich (the London suburb, not Connecticut) in April with two kids in the back, you’ll know that our Mr Spencer-Powell has commandeered it for the weekend.
Elegant logos and good carpentry aside, the most exciting part about the move is the extra space it’s going to give us to expand our activities. You might notice that from time to time we post job ads on our website and over soon we’re going to be looking for radio producers who can work on our audio projects, a retail manager to look after our shop and web activities, web designers and engineers to expand and refine monocle.com, fresh editorial talent to assist with research and logistics, a sharp junior to join our advertising team, an ambitious intern to learn the ropes with our distribution team and another person to support our finance department (keep an eye on our website for these posts).
When the new digs are up and running we’ll share some pictures with you, and when the park next door starts to bloom we’ll have some cocktail parties on the terrace (invite to come). In the meantime, we hope the New Year is shaping up as planned and we look forward to hearing from you and seeing you on our travels. Any comments, tips, story ideas and opportunities can be sent to me at email@example.com or to my colleague Alexander Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course it would also be nice to receive post to Monocle, Midori House, 1 Dorset Street, London W1 4EG. Cheers and until next month.
For more from our editor-in-chief, read his column in the FT Weekend.