As the Monocle team takes to the road again, thoughts are turning to new projects for the year ahead, writes Tyler Brûlé.
Everyone likes a little expedition, particularly when it might involve propeller-driven aircraft and gravel runways, luggage tags with airport codes that raise eyebrows at Heathrow check-in desks (are you sure this is where you’re flying to?), a chance of blizzards in late August and the opportunity to buy fine handicrafts made out of reindeer skin. And there’s nothing our editors like more than trotting down to the basement to borrow one of our special supply of Canada Goose jackets for High North and high-altitude assignments. In case the cover didn’t give it away, the handsome man in the coyote collar and the husky with the fluffy coat are representative of the current race to all points north of the Arctic Circle. As our foreign editor argues in our opener (page 33), there’s a scramble for established players in the region to bolster their position while a host of newcomers (many with rather tenuous claims to the region) seek new partnerships and permanent seats on various councils.
While a sizeable editorial contingent spent late summer flying around on sas, Air Greenland and Air Canada feeder services (Tristan McAllister took to the sea to report from the decks of Alaska’s state operated ferry service on page 271), another group were on ana, Qantas, Thai and Cathay Pacific zipping north to south, from Tokyo to Melbourne, to launch our book across the Asia-Pacific region. Having met hundreds (thousands?) of readers at various signing events for The Monocle Guide to Better Living, we’ve been busy comparing comments and collating feedback regarding everything from our roster of retail products, programme line-up on Monocle 24 and requests for new specials in the magazine.
Some time in the coming weeks we’ll sit down and draw up a list of priorities for the coming year. By the time our December-January issue thumps down on desks and coffee tables (it’s shaping up to be our biggest issue ever), we should be able to share our plans for new outposts and special projects for 2014.
In the meantime, our foreign editor is busy wrangling heads of state and foreign ministers to sit alongside our upcoming soft-power survey, our business editor is setting up our new bureau in Istanbul and our photo desk is deploying photographers to the plains of Central Asia, the platforms of Europe’s best-designed train stations and into the offices of some the world’s sharpest entrepreneurs.
At the same time we ventured out on the road the moment this issue went to press to meet more of our readers across Europe and held events in Geneva, Zürich, Stuttgart (thank you to the team at Bungalow for hosting our first ever event in the southwest corner of the Federal Republic) and Paris (merci to everyone at Colette for squeezing us in during a very busy fashion week). Over the coming weeks we’ll also be in New York (McNally-Jackson books) and Toronto (our shop and bureau on College Street) to sign a few more copies (yes, we’re already in our second print run) and listen keenly to your feedback about the various parts of our business.
As the days grow shorter, we’ll be looking north again as we plan to take a whole team on a snappy four-day tour of the Nordic region. From mid November you might see some oversize Rimowa equipment cases belonging to our Monocle 24 battalion around baggage carousels as a group of 10 of us dart around the capitals to talk to mayors, architects, retailers, defence analysts and artists for a series of special programmes we’ll be hosting live from Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki.
Along the way we’re hoping to get back into the studio with some of our favourite performers to record a few songs for the Christmas season and also to track down some new companies to work with for our retail collaborations. Evenings will be devoted to our readers: Monday to Thursday during our trip we’ll be hosting our subscribers and partners at special events combining our editors in proper cosy attire, a large line-up of monocle products to help dent Christmas wish-lists, a new version of our book and a tasty line-up of food and drinks.
As with all of our events, subscribers will be sent invitations over the coming weeks. We’re always open to suggestions for what we might do after we’ve finished at our first venue and are ready for something that might involve a more intimate bar and even a tiny dance-floor to get the season properly under way.
Before I sign off, a bit of housekeeping. I’m happy to report that my trusty assistants Tommy and Isabel have now take up new posts on the masthead – Mr Seres is now part of the advertising team (with a special focus on travel) and Frau Käser has joined the Monocle 24 research desk (with a view to affairs in the Middle East). Thank you to both for their tireless service. In their place, I’m happy to welcome back Helen Pipins (we last shared a dining table when we launched another magazine back in 1996) as the mistress of logistics and diary and Kristoffer Parup as the master of business development and research. As ever, all your comments, questions and tips are welcome at tb@monocle.
For more from our editor-in-chief, read his column in the FT Weekend.