It’s happening in urban pockets all over the world. And it’s rampant in London, monocle’s HQ city. As house prices reach ever more stratospheric heights, agents (and locals) talk of investment potential, of “flipping” properties before the paint has even dried on new developments, of rental yields and who will be the new Kazakhs/Uzbeks/Russians propping up the dafter end of the market. The one word that tends to be sidelined is “home”. When houses are just ways for the scions of dodgy ’Stans leaders to launder their cash, then the notion that they could be places for lives to gradually unfold in gets lost. And so does it also when every freshly marketed tower block is seen solely as a pension-pot possibility.
monocle has from the get-go had rather different views on this subject. We have championed architects who make homes. We have never been impressed by price tags (some of the most inspiring residences that have appeared on our pages were built on budgets leaner that a slice of ceviche). We like showing homes where life is being lived, where bikes can be left in hallways, dogs can doze on sofas and the odd scuff mark doesn’t trigger owner rage. But most importantly we have time and again featured residences that are where their owners want to put down deep and stubborn roots. Homes that are not for sale.
This month sees the first of our two annual Design Directories (you have to wait until autumn for part two) and on each page you’ll find inspiration, clever people and products worth investing in. And we are happy that there’s a bit of a “slow house” feel to the pages because we hope that some of those things you buy will be with you for years to come.
But we also go to Mipim (page 84) in Cannes. It’s where the global property players gather to talk about what’s on the horizon. We dodge the clinking champagne flutes to find the developers who have more wholesome ambitions for the future of our cities than just building places to hide your money.
And the theme of “home” pops up in some other well-appointed quarters of this issue too. Turn to our Expo (page 231) and you will enter the world of the correspondents’ club. Often founded as refuges for war reporters, journeying hacks and their hard-drinking hangers-on, these institutions should have had their heyday in the 1960s but somehow they have managed to stay relevant. We visit outposts in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok to find out why a new generation (along with the seasoned and slightly alcohol-pickled one) is still lured by their whirring fans and reading rooms. I’ll give you a hint: it’s because they feel at home. And in My Last Meal (page 228) the fashion designer Junko Shimada talks about how food can also define home.
So take your time and start thinking about how to make a place you would be happy to live in. And leave the flipping for the barbecue session.