As spring warms the terraces of Midori House, our editor in chief Tyler Brûlé considers what elements create the perfect sunny spot and looks forward to making this summer the best ever for magazine, radio and barbecue enthusiasts alike
Summer put in an early appearance at Midori House as we shipped the May issue off to the printers and we started gearing up with our commissioning and deployments for June. While London’s enjoyed a rather tame winter, there wasn’t much use of our garden area and terraces over the past few months but it was all change on the first Monday of production week as lunch suddenly moved from canteen to the garden, sunglasses were pulled from top drawers, extra buttons were undone, skirts hitched up and trousers rolled – a rather tricky task in this era of skinny denim and chinos. (I also made an inventory of all the new additions required to make for a more enjoyable few months – extra tables and chairs from Grythyttan, umbrellas from Garpa and possibly some benches for a few lucky souls to stretch out on.) By the end of the week we even managed to have our first outdoor after-work drink of the season – even if the late March breezes snuck up on us as the sun started to dip.
It’s always something of a surprise to see how little attention companies give to outdoor space – particularly where staff and visitors are concerned. With plenty of consideration given to public art, parking lots and statement landscaping, the outdoor area for enjoying lunch or a blast of sun is frequently a bench or two alongside a pond, picnic tables with no shade and perhaps a sports pitch that also doubles as a landing pad for corporate choppers. From Bergen to Boston, Sapporo to Seattle, people want to be outside when the weather is at its best but somehow developers, architects and their clients don’t go quite as far as they could with outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed from sunrise until well into the late evening. As the temperature starts to rise we’re having a healthy debate about whether we install air conditioning across the entire building (currently it’s just the radio studios, server rooms and canteen that benefit from AC) or if we invest in awnings for the sunny side of Midori House and rely on cross breezes to keep heads and computers cool. Either way, it’s our intention to be as indoor/outdoor as possible over the coming months – partly in a bid to encourage the sun to put in some extended appearances and also embrace the festivities that are about to engulf the capital.
Over the next few weeks Sally (our housemistress) will start spending more time watering and pruning and will start drawing up suggestions for my mother’s (chief landscape officer) next visit to London. In a distant corner Sally’s already creating what can best be described as a manger-scene-meets-grotto with some abandoned pillars, terracotta pots and vines. If it comes together nicely it could easily turn into the most desirable table for lunch or it could take a wrong turn and end up looking like an entrance that might be attractive to Austrians who prefer to host guests and family members in subterranean settings.
As the days get a bit brighter we’re thinking of early morning language classes accompanied by suitably themed breakfasts and it’s likely our morning and afternoon story meetings will also shift outdoors. As we don’t want our radio colleagues trapped inside their studios, we’ve also started making provisions for broadcasting from the upper terraces and the garden in order to add some seasonal texture to our output. Indeed by the time you read this Monocle 24 will already have celebrated its sixth month on air and expanded its live output with the addition of Continental and Atlantic shifts to round out the day in Europe and keep the tempo up for North America. Later in the summer we’ll add a Pacific shift that will mean we’re live, around the clock. It will mean taking over the six news bulletins currently aired from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Back in the garden we’re also planning a couple of events for all the visitors who’ll be paying special visits to London this summer. Sally’s keen on having our barbecue fired up at all times to host unexpected visitors, so there’s another debate currently going on in the kitchen about what type of grill we should purchase. All of this planning is in anticipation of a Monocle summer “country” fair we’re planning for June (think Disney-meets-diplomacy in a funked-up version of It’s a Small World complete with great food, cute things to buy and surprise musical guests) that will open our yard to subscribers and neighbours alike. Come the Olympics at the end of July we’re looking at playing host to guests from some of our favourite companies and countries with our own take on a Biergarten. Details about both of these initiatives will get more coverage in the next issue and also on monocle.com.
While we continue to plot our summer season we’ll also be taking Monocle 24 on the road with special programmes from Stockholm, Paris and Geneva. In print we have a number of specials in the works, including our annual transport survey in our June issue and quality of life double issue for July/August. Thoughts, questions, comments and requests can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my assistant Mr Seres at email@example.com.
For more from our editor in chief, read his column in the ‘FTWeekend’