Some of the most coveted items in the Monocle office this month are the Bruno Swiss-designed bike, the Murano glass Happy Pill vases and leather duffle bags by Beastin.
Provenance emerged last year from a company called Eco Furniture, which has its roots making high-end teak and aluminium furniture in England using recycled materials. “The initial inspiration for the range came from looking at ways to find a use for the smaller offcuts from the furniture business to prevent them from being wasted,” says Robert Smith, who’s behind Provenance with his partners, Nick Powell and Alan Thornton. “The materials used quickly expanded to include recycled glass and renewable cork and, in development right now, recycled aluminium.” The main base of Provenance is in the Cotswolds, and there is also a subsidiary office in Cornwall from which they aim to increase British production.
Style ride: Cycling kit
These leather Quoc Pham shoes with cleats mean commuters can pedal smoothly around town and avoid walking clumsily when they get off their bikes. And what better ride to cruise the streets than the Japanese-made, Swiss-designed, 20in frame Bruno mini-velo? Smaller than a regular bike this is the ideal city cycle – especially if you have a vegetable-tanned Retrovelo bike bag on the frame to carry your books and laptop around.
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“Having been a gin fan I was frustrated that there wasn’t a simple, very dry, classic one,” says Matthew Gilpin, owner of Gilpin’s. He teamed up with eighth-generation master distiller Charles Maxwell and after two years of trial an error, they came up with a spirit made with eight botanicals*, which is currently being served at top hotels, including The Dorchester and Dukes Bar in London. The limited-edition bottles were designed by Kristina Valius and are marked with their own batch number.
Rainer Brang, a computer engineer and parent from Stuttgart with a love for wood, couldn’t find a nice children’s radio that wasn’t plastic so he made the Hörbert, a crafty mp3 player for kids. “When I gave the first prototype to my son, he immediately made it his personal companion and it still is today,” says Brang. “Shortly after, friends and neighbours started asking me to produce some more players for their kids.” Every Hörbert comes with software that allows parents to easily upload music and audio books (up to 8.5 hours) that can then be played by the kids with the touch of one of the panel’s colourful buttons.
Happy Pills: Vases
Producing artistic glassware on the island of Murano since 1921, Venini’s latest commission is a set of capsules-cum-vases made under the direction of Italian designer Fabio Novembre. His Happy Pills are made using the locally developed, traditional technique of incalmo (created by artisan glassblowers in the 16th century) whereby two sets of glass are amalgamated to look like one piece. Novembre’s colourful pills represent hormones such as adrenaline and oxytocine, giving any living room a feel-good sensation.
Founded in 2009 in Prague by husband and wife team Katerina Sachova and Filip Sach, alongside their friend Denisa Havrdova, Papelote offers playful products designed in collaboration with illustrators, designers, architects, writers and even children. All products are made from recycled or environmentally friendly paper, wool felt and cotton fabric. Swing by the award-winning shop or visit the website to create your own original, tailor-made stationery.
Snob Duck: Soaps
It was soap that made Vasilis Douros move from the Kalavrita mountain resorts, where he gave ski lessons, to Tripoli on the Peloponnese coast and set up his lab. The main ingredient for the Snob Duck soaps is olive oil that comes from Douros family’s olive grove. With branding designed by Marios Karystios, Douros has created a set of chemical-free soaps made with lavender, poppy seeds, honey and even chocolate and beer.
Moore&Giles: Tie case
From its shop in Lynchburg, Virginia, Moore&Giles has been helping men around the world to keep their neckware wrinkle-free and crisp since 1933. Holding up to four ties, the McMillan case is the result of a collaboration with Minnesota-based Pierrepont Hicks, a tie-maker run by a Brooklyn and Minneapolis couple. Next time you travel, pick up a Titan toffee-coloured leather case and avoid the pain in the neck of having to steam your cravats when you land.
MYdrap: Cotton napkins
This roll comes with 12 units of pre-cut water-resistant napkins, made with Spanish cotton in a camouflage pattern, which can be used as placemats or coasters but are often used as neckwear or headbands. They’re also good for testing your origami skills: pictured is our attempt at making a bird of paradise – although it looks more like Sydney Opera house.
Vero Lucano: Foodstuff
Often overlooked by food lovers, Basilicata, the region that forms the instep of Italy’s boot, is home to a fair share of culinary treats that make up the backbone of the Mediterranean diet. Food brand Vero Lucano sells extra virgin olive oil pressed from the Majatica variety, locally grown lentils and savoury and sweet biscuits made with flour milled from Cappelli durum wheat. The same grain is used to prepare the traditional Matera bread and pastas that come in eyecatching1950s-style packaging.
Beastin: Duffle bag
Known for its smart streetwear, Beastin from Munich hand-makes leather duffle bags, designed in collaboration with craftsman Kruno Nakic. Stop at Pool on Maximilianstrasse or Harvest on Zieblandstrasse to get your hands on one.
Kings&Queens sources the best organic beans from Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Brazil and India through a few speciality coffee brokers in Hamburg. Monocle discovered Kings&Queens on a visit to Canadian-run Aunt Benny café in east Berlin.
Muriel Grateau: Crockery
French designer Muriel Grateau’s new Senso crockery range is her first bisque dishware, made using pure, unglazed porcelain. “It’s a fascinating material that gives each piece a breathtaking elegance and finesse,” says Grateau. “I had the idea of block tinting the material, which turned out to be a very delicate, technical undertaking. It resulted in a series of powdery shades, like the Lettuce [pictured]”.
Gilpin’s botanicals include:
Juniper from Bulgaria
Sage from Italy
Borage from Italy
Lemon peel from Italy
Spanish orange peel bitter
Lime peel from India
Coriander from India
Angelica root from France