As the first quarter of 2015 draws to a close, Monocle editor in chief Tyler Brûlé looks back over events so far. Then it’s time to gear up for the rest of a jam-packed year; conferences, cafés, city guides and a comprehensively refreshed radio schedule just begins to cover it.
At the start of January, monocle’s senior editors and commercial directors assembled for a mini summit high up in the Engadine Valley to set the tone for the year ahead. In between hearty breakfasts at Hotel Hauser, bottles of chilled malanser at La Baracca and rather fierce snowball fights, we plotted the months ahead and decided that 2015 should be the year of taking stock and longer-range forward planning.
By the time we departed (some of us on the little red alpine train and others in a van down to Milan) we had a plan in place to shake up our radio schedule, launch our first ever conference and get a series of new books out the door. Beyond that we were going to shift a few people around our bureaux, attempt to squeeze a couple more desks onto our editorial floor in London, bolster our commercial team and think about how we bring our New York operation into line with the rest of our operations as a consolidated office/shop/radio set-up. After a couple of weeks out on the road and a few days back at HQ, this commitment to keeping things somewhat tame was out the window and a series of new projects for our editorial and commercial line-ups was underway.
If you popped by right now (I’m penning this on 2 March) and knew where to look and listen, here’s what you would see in the works. Behind the sliding door on the ground floor that houses our radio operation, Monocle 24 has been completely relaunched in order to respond to our growing audience in Asia and North America. We’ve dropped the out-sourced news from a supplier in Australia and now deliver all tops of hours from a mix of London, New York, Toronto or one of our Asian bureaux. At the same time we’ve worked with the very talented Gilbert Masuda to sharpen up our jingles and a hot Swedish duo to improve our audio branding around the clock.
On top of this we now have a host of new programmes. These include a daily news hour called The Ten, a daily arts review, a special series devoted to all of our live music acts and a new weekend show dubbed The Big Interview, which is a 30-minute sit-down with a leading figure from one of monocle’s key editorial sectors.
One floor up, all vertical space is covered with pages for a variety of upcoming books along with planning for future issues. On the back wall is The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes and elsewhere there are pages for our new city guides that will take in New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and a few others to begin with (we’ll be taking advance orders for all of these over the coming weeks). Elsewhere on the editorial floor, all table and floor space has been occupied by Yoshi and Kaoru as they work on designs for delegate treats for our upcoming conference in Lisbon (more on this in a moment) as well as the branding for the debut of our new Kioskafé retail outlet.
While we’ve talked a little about this project on radio, our Kioskafé is a new venture located around the corner from Paddington Station in London and aims to be the best news-and-coffee outpost in the UK, if not Europe. Launching in April, the small retail space will be a mix of the best international magazines and newspapers, travel essentials (toiletries, undies, stationery) and excellent coffee. If all goes to plan we’d like to see Kioskafés at major transport hubs around the world.
Up on floor three (the heart of our commercial operations) we’ve just completed our line-up of speakers for the conference and are thrilled that Ilse Crawford, the v&a’s Martin Roth, Erik Spiekermann, the mayors of Oslo and Porto, Bjarke Ingels and a host of other leading thinkers will be joining us to dissect the finer points of quality of life. Because we have expanded our Lisbon venue we have released a few more tickets and if you tap away quickly enough you can still register for and purchase yours at conference.monocle.com.
Overseas, my mother just finished perking up the garden at our recently opened Singapore operation in readiness for the arrival of new bureau chief Nolan Giles; she then returned home just in time to welcome Tomos Lewis as the new chief of our Toronto operation. And we’re currently looking at venues and schedules for the launch of a special summer gathering somewhere in the heart of Europe for our subscribers. It is our intention to launch this in line with our newest publication The Escapist: a sibling to The Forecast, which came out at the end of last year.
And that brings to a close our Q1 2015 report. If you would like to add to this list with new leads or ideas then please feel free to drop a note to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my assistant Helen Pipins (email@example.com). Thank you for your support.
For more from our editor in chief, read his column in the ‘FT Weekend’.