Observation - Issue 56 - Magazine | Monocle

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The completion of this September issue managed to coincide somewhat conveniently with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games – giving us a 21.00 finish line to dash towards on a Friday evening. Rather than braving the crowds and traffic to cross London, most of Midori House gathered around in the canteen to watch the events cinema-style – complete with pizza, beer and a good selection of wine. While everyone enjoyed the spectacle in the cosy comfort of our headquarters, I was invited by friends from Hong Kong to join them out at the Olympic stadium. Poor logistics aside (the Olympic Park is a bit too big and spread out), Sebastian Coe and co put on an outstanding show and hopefully generated enough lift to get the uk economy out of the doldrums. The next round of quarterly economic results will reveal whether the Games offered any short-term stimulus and if gb Inc has turned a corner.

As most of the northern hemisphere heads back to work over the coming weeks, the UK and most other European economies need to return to class with a healthy summer glow, a new wardrobe and a fresh set of school supplies. Despite months of dreadful weather across much of northern Europe and depleted coffers across the top of the Mediterranean, it doesn’t require deep pockets to turn heads on the first day back at school – just a bit of imagination.

Remember the girl who returned to campus completely transformed after the summer break and had everyone talking by lunchtime? (Where did she get that dress? Did you see her hair? Where did the perky boobs come from?) Or the geeky boy who suddenly found his groove and now how had the perfect turn-up on his jeans, tanned ankles, good glasses, broader chest and, most annoyingly, all the right answers in class. Europe’s poorer performing students need to retreat to their bedrooms for an evening and plot their back-to-school re-invention.

Off the back of the Olympics, UK government and industry should be plotting a series of encores to ensure the country doesn’t suffer from a serious bout of post-party depression. London Design Week and the Frieze Art Fair should both take the lead in keeping the mood buoyant and underlining the UK’s position as Europe’s most important hub for design, art and media.

On the other side of Europe the Italians have a golden opportunity to use both the architecture biennale and film festival in Venice as a late summer opportunity to grab international headlines. It will remind the world why Italy’s always a good place to spend a few euros on hotels, good tailoring, furniture and accessories. Rather than just the usual red carpet photography at premieres and party snaps from the biennale, Italy’s embassies should be encouraging (part-funding) the world’s major TV networks to broadcast their morning shows and newscasts from Venice for a full week. Italy will be on the agenda as a centre that knows how to throw a good party, host expos and fill a wardrobe.

As the last quarter is a crush of planning for the year ahead, Europe’s major economies need to ensure they do their bit to stay in mind for the year ahead and refashion themselves so the world starts to view them in a more positive (attractive) light.

Back at Midori House, there’s plenty going on in the way of reinvention and sprucing things up for autumn. Next month will see a few design tweaks applied to these pages (don’t worry, nothing too dramatic), some new faces pulling up chairs on the editorial and commercial floors and some new addresses added to the masthead.

Across the Atlantic our colleagues Yoshi, Shin and Ellie (along with my mom) have been busy working on our new shop and bureau set up in Toronto. Having spent the better part of the spring scouting for a location for our second North American office, we managed to find a sunny spot in Toronto’s Little Italy. It will house a Monocle Shop, office space for a researcher, correspondent and radio presenters and a full set-up for our colleagues from Winkreative (the design and branding agency owned by our parent company). From Toronto we’ll not only cover eastern Canada but also use it as a base for more coverage from the Arctic and the US Midwest. We’re also hoping to find some good Canadian accents to up our radio coverage from the region as well.

Closer to home we’re currently finalising drawings, finishes and furniture for the first Monocle Café in Europe. By the time this issue is on press we’re hoping to have our builders over from Appenzell to start measuring up the space and by late September we should be well into staff training and menu tests. Located just down the street from our headquarters, the café will take some inspiration from our operation in Tokyo. But focus will lie more on it being a destination for a quick morning hit of coffee (we’ll be opening early), a central location for private meetings (we’re planning a special meeting room for the sole use of subscribers) and a gathering point for discussion and debate (the café will definitely have a starring role as a new feature on the Monocle 24 schedule). If you have any comments or queries drop me a note at tb@monocle.com and if you want to find out how to contribute to our new projects please contact my assistant Mr Tommy Seres at tse@monocle.com. Enjoy the last of the summer sun.

For more from our editor in chief, read his column in the ‘FTWeekend’.

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