Our March round-up of the things floating Monocle’s boat includes retro Swedish headphones, tastebud-tingling Swiss wine and the finest handmade Italian candles.
- Theory11/Monarch playing cards
Not all playing cards were created equal. Some are too bendy, some too stiff and others have rude pictures that prevent grandma from joining the game. Theory11 – an online magic company – has designed a set of cards that are both beautiful and functional. Made with the finest quality of paper stock, the cards have a soft feel and sturdy composition with printed hand- drawn illustrations. The box itself is a thing of beauty, with gold foil, evoking a vintage, timeless aesthetic. Just the distraction needed to win the game.
While most headphones are getting more stylised, those by Swedish company Nocs are designed to be purposefully understated. “It comes down to an interest in good design,” says founder Daniel Alm. He founded Nocs in 2008 after realising there was a gap in the market for earphones compatible with Apple products. The NS 300s are a spare design with stainless steel and faux leather.
Mad et Len/room perfume
Four years ago, scent-obsessed Alex Piffaut set up Mad et Len, a traditional perfumery in St Julien du Verdon, a village of 100 people (and 200 sheep) in the South of France. Mad et Len manufactures everything artisanally; the metal work decorating some of the brand’s fresheners is crafted in its atelier, the fragrant candles are hand-poured and all products are hand-labelled. The scents are made with essential oils.
Over 70 years ago, Masashi Mizutori first started making textile for getas – a traditional Japanese sandal that has no left-right distinction and a flat wooden sole. Today, Mizutori has elevated the geta design to another level, mixing traditional skills with modern techniques. The leather straps of the Sajin (right) give your feet longer-lasting comfort. The Two Piece (left) has a fresh finish, a new comfy shape and wooden soles. Both series are made using local hinoki (a Japanese cypress).
Simon Carter/iPad case
Old world meets new world with this 1930s-inspired iPad case by UK designer Simon Carter in the form of an authentic Harris tweed front and an all-leather back. Carter is known for his unusual and stylish accessories, ranging from men’s brooches to detailed cufflinks. His products are available in fashion stores around the world, from Canada to Japan and online.
Collection Chandra Kurt/wine
“Swiss wine is a well kept secret,” says Chandra Kurt, one of Switzerland’s top oenologists and wine writers, who in 2008 decided to launch a collection of wines made with indigenous grapes grown in the Canton Valais. Made under the supervision of Swiss winemaker Madeleine Gay and using varieties including Humagne Rouge and Diolinoir, Kurt has produced five bottles capable of fighting it out on wine shop shelves alongside French and Italian wines.
Where do bees go to kick back and relax? Created in response to the dramatic and mysterious drop in the global bee population during the past five years*, Bee Station provides overworked pollinators with a much-needed refuelling and nesting site in your garden. Bees enter the cleverly designed earthenware ball through a small hole in the front. Hollow “feet” at the base of the globe act as reservoirs for sugar water, an energy-boosting treat for the insects. The Station is handmade in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
If you’re planning a trip to the woods, do it with style. Portland-based Poler makes cool camping and trekking accessories that include sleeping bags, tents and the quirkily named Duffaluffagus bag. Also wearable as a backpack, the bag has a strap system in the bottom to buckle a skateboard, converting it into carry-on luggage that’s easy to pull along. Made with high-quality synthetic fabric, leather lash downs and pull tabs, the Duffaluffagus can hold everything you need for a break in the mountains and is compact enough to fit snugly in any overhead compartment.
Giorgio Bagnara, owner of Italian leather goods brand B.Home Interiors, has now added scented candles to his collection of luxury home furnishings, all elegantly turned out by hand in his Genoa workshop. Made with vegetable and paraffin wax, and a cotton wick, the fragrance is a mix of myrrh, leather and floral notes. It comes in a holder covered in Tuscan calfskin, stingray or crocodile.
Since 2007, Central St Martins graduate Reiko Kaneko has been designing ceramic pieces combining his Anglo-Japanese heritage. Typically British fine bone china made in Stoke-on-Trent (still the UK’s ceramic heartland) has a Japanese dynamism and respect for form. The potter has delved into the world of 3D modelling and the result is a range that is simple and remarkable at the same time.
The Whileaway guides, a total of 10 neatly designed, pocket-sized booklets are all you need when travelling around Australia. These guides are the brainchild of Jess Grinter and Kitty Spry, two close friends and avid travellers who uncover hidden regional gems Down Under. Printed on uncoated paper, the Whileaway collection includes maps that pinpoint the best places to visit (and top beaches to surf) and an events calendar.
Florian Breimesser and four fellow Münchners long wondered what is was about Munich’s famed beers that made them just so good. After researching, they concluded it was down to the water. The Bavarian capital lies on the mouth of a former glacier meaning the water under the city is encased in impermeable rock assuring almost absolute purity. The city may soon be as famous for its Aqua Monaco wasser as it is for more intoxicating pleasures.
In Kurashiki, Japan’s surviving textile industry hub, Hanpu canvas is weaved on the flying shuttle*, giving Baistone’s items a firm finish and classic soft touch. The JoBu series (pictured) is part of Baiston’s stylish homeware line: cutlery case, pencil case or toolbox – whatever suits you.
Bunches & Bunches/Bailey’s Dog Biscuits
Tamalpais Roth McCormick has a pack of big dogs, but it was his first Labrador retriever, Bailey, who inspired him to bake Bailey’s Dog Biscuits. “These biscuits are the favourite flavour of all my dogs and they love all the variations I have made since the beginning, in 2010,” he says. McCormick bakes the doggie treats in Portland, Oregon.
What’s the philosophy behind your guides?
The guides are designed to be more like the diary of a well-travelled friend, impartial and unbiased, offering personal advice based on our team’s experiences. Before we visit, we gather hot tips and recommendations from locals. We choose the featured offerings based on the “feel”. They must feel welcoming, have value for money and capture the region’s mood – something that is just a little bit special.
What is the most attractive city in Australia nowadays – and why?
Hobart, Tasmania, is Australia’s current hotspot and ticking all the boxes for all the right reasons. Attractive physically, culturally and historically, there is something for everyone including the foodies. Nestled at the foot of Mount Wellington on the Derwent River, it is surrounded by luscious land producing gourmet delights – boutique wines, cheeses and apples to name a few (Tassie is not called the “apple isle” for nothing).
What trends are you seeing in Australia?
There is a real trend towards lifestyle changes – people are seeking a more relaxed lifestyle, out of the cities. Australia’s range of diverse landscapes, from beach to bush, means there are options for all personalities to live and travel – most within short distances from home or a quick flight escape. There is a strong push towards food and wine being produced organically, especially those products that are within 100 food miles [160km], lowering their carbon footprint.
The remarkable number of recent bee deaths – dubbed colony collapse disorder – has had scientists scratching their heads. Almost one-third of honey bee colonies are now empty, with remaining bees forced to work overtime. Explanations range from stress to pesticides – the latest suggests the meddling of a parasitic fly that turns bees into “flying zombies”, causing them to leave the hive at night and never return.
A flying shuttle is a machine loom that fomented weaving’s industrialisation.