Saturday 15 June 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 15/6/2019

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Seize the day… bed

A moody dark lake on a miserable cold day? My first thought is to stay away, especially if you notice that even the ducks are sitting this one out. Trouble is, our founder has a thought process that runs like this: “Where are my trunks and where do we jump in?” So you need some polished diversionary tactics to stay dry: “Look, there’s an amazing Florence Knoll sofa that’s just been left on the pavement.”

It was a close shave, therefore, last Friday when I went to Zürich to join the team for a party to celebrate the recent launch of The Monocle Guide to Shops, Kiosks and Markets at the Spitzenhaus Parfumerie. It was one of those days when summer could relapse to winter but I was greeted by, “Did you bring your trunks?” Forgetting them is never a get out at Monocle’s Zürich HQ: this is the sort of office that has emergency pairs.

Look, when it’s hot the swimming club culture of lake Zürich is unbeatable – Monocle has made that clear. But that’s because it’s matched with some sunbathing and a nice lunch. However, if the thermometer has not hit rosé-wine level, I become oddly attached to my socks. Luckily time was against us.

The risks of ignoring your inner coward at Monocle came shuddering back this week when I received the invite to the London launch of the new St Moritz magazine, produced by our sister company Winkreative. Of course, you should get one. But first, spare a thought for me.

This winter we were in St Moritz – research, you know – and there was going to be a free morning. Now it’s ages since I’ve skied and I was reluctant to head back to London on a gurney, so it was suggested that I do something “fun” while others hit the slopes. How about a toboggan run? St Moritz has some amazing ones – not the lethal Cresta variety, I was assured. I’m convinced I then heard the words “Muottas Muragl” and “gentle” in the same sentence.

So that’s how I found myself at the toboggan-hire hut at Muottas Muragl, just a short drive from St M. The owner assured me it was going to be fun (that ominous word again) so I paid up and headed over to the lift. There, in a giddy moment, I bought a ticket for multiple runs.

I did get a little suspicious as the lift rose up to the kick-off point. It climbed. And climbed. The valley floor became distant. Villages were now smudges on the horizon. I saw the earth’s curvature. Then space debris started floating past.

A few jolly souls were ambling ahead of me and I watched as they gently pushed off and gracefully glided out of view. Now it was my turn. Within about 20 seconds I was going at a pace that reminded me of those movies where an astronaut is hurtling back to Earth. I tried to use my feet as brakes but this just shot vast amounts of snow into my face, blocking out all vision. It was just 30 seconds after departure that I hit a bend, shot into the air and landed in a metre of snow – though the sledge decided to carry on down the run for another 100 metres. Bye!

So began perhaps the least graceful descent of Muottas Muragl that there has ever been; a walrus on a surfboard would have been more elegant. Every few hundred metres the sledge and I parted ways like quarrelsome lovers; when we were together we hit timber barricades and bounced off ice. Somehow I got to the end. I was giddy and laughing – the relief of the hostage suddenly freed. I was rather silent with the sledge-owner.

A taxi returned me to the hotel and back in my room, knee throbbing, I looked up the mysterious Muottos Muragl. I read, “The fastest of all the region’s toboggan runs, with a vertical drop of 718 metres, guarantees plenty of action.” So when people – especially your boss – urge you to trust them and just jump, my advice is simple: don’t. Here’s a better idea: stay in the hotel and enjoy some treats from the cake trolley.

Culture / Beijing

Painting a picture

Emmanuel Macron’s soft-power manoeuvres are shining again this weekend. Last year the president visited Beijing’s UCCA gallery while on tour and now it is hosting Birth of a Genius, a 79-day show featuring 103 works by Picasso. They are all on loan from the national Musée Picasso in Paris, the long-time home of the painter’s works. “The French are the best at this kind of cultural soft power, especially to China,” says UCCA CEO Philip Tinari, an American who can thank high-level support in Paris and Beijing for getting artworks worth more than €700m into China. Commercial ties between East and West may be on ice in some quarters but cultural exchanges are in for a hot summer.

Design / London

Calling card

Can a manifesto change the world? In truth there are probably quicker ways (writes Josh Fehnert). But that didn’t stop the London Festival of Architecture and Design Museum commissioning 10 young London-based practices to compose one each, then have it out in a debate last week.

We spoke to a smattering of the studios involved for Monocle On Design (which airs Tuesdays on Monocle 24 and is available as a podcast). Joseph Henry, a participant from the regeneration team at the Greater London Authority, questioned the rigidity of a manifesto: do architects who wrote them stop listening to people? Akil Scafe-Smith of Resolve, meanwhile, said that as much as how they build, architects should consider not building (and, thus, save resources). In fact, every participant agreed that inclusivity, sustainability and joined-up thinking were vital.

Karl Marx didn’t hatch communism to get rich – and these young practices aren’t looking to build bigger or more spectacularly. Their joint manifesto would be about reflecting the needs of the people who use our cities. We should listen to what they have to say.

The faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Answers on a postcard

By the time you get around to reading this I will be braving the crowds at Art Basel and wondering what people in the art world did before H&M invented its Cos retail concept and Issey Miyake invented Pleats Please. More on all of this next week, for sure. In the meantime, the past seven days involved a lot of rail travel up and down the SBB network. Time on fine rolling stock (when it’s not overcrowded) often allows for plenty of thinking space as the meadows, stripy awnings and mocha cows zip out of view.

As part of a semi-regular instalment in this column I’m going to offer a few observations and questions; you have to respond with clever answers that we’ll not only publish in the Monocle Weekend Edition but will also reward with a lovely prize from our print collection. Please keep your responses brief (not more than 150 words). Winners will be informed by Thursday and announced next week. Ready? Here we go.

  1. On Thursday I spent the day reviewing graduate projects at Ecal, the Lausanne art-and-design school, and noticed a curious footwear trend among the students. While enjoying morning coffee in the sunshine I wasn’t really paying much attention to anything in particular. As it was my first time at the school I took in the architecture, tried to gauge what percentage of the students smoked, wondered why the outdoor furniture was French (Fermob) and not Swiss, and contemplated how lovely life must be at a well-funded higher education institution in canton Vaud. Staring at the ground, I also noticed a distinct absence of swooshes on the sides of the trainers parading back and forth. There were a few pairs of Vejas, the odd paint-splattered Converse All Star, a total absence of Balenciaga and Gucci sneakers, and complete three-strip domination by Adidas. How has Adidas managed this turnaround? And where did all the Nikes go?

  2. It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m on a packed train from Lausanne to Zürich. As the sun is shining (finally) everyone on this service has clearly done their very best to wrap their meetings early so they can get back to Bern or Zürich early enough for aperitivos on their balconies and to take a pre-dinner dip. This means the carriages are buzzing with conference calls and the clatter of keyboards. Across the aisle from me a lawyer is on a conference call (she represents a Swiss-based multinational operating in the food and capsule-coffee space). She’s being negative about the deal she’s involved with and not terribly flattering about the potential partner. What would you do if you were a fellow employee or shareholder of the business she’s representing?

  3. Stand-up e-scooters have somehow been allowed to become an overnight nuisance in many big cities. While I get that they’re perhaps better for the environment (although not when they’ve been thrown in a river) and help with tackling the “last-mile” conundrum, shouldn’t they be forced to obey the same speed limits as cars? In many cities you’re slapped with a ticket if you drive your car over 30km/h. Why is it acceptable to go above that if you’re on two wheels, self-powered or otherwise?

  4. Friday morning and it’s market day in central Zürich. We’re told that everyone is going organic, everyone wants to support farmers and fair trade, and there’s a backlash against big businesses. If this is truly the case then why isn’t there a single person under 60 out shopping for their greens, flowers, fish, meat and dairy? And no, it’s not because everyone is already at their desks.

  5. Look away now if you don’t like people cussin’. It’s still Friday morning, I’m heading back home from the market and there’s a massive billboard set up for Zürich’s pride weekend that says “Fuck to be free” (or something close to that – I too had to look away quickly!). Why is this acceptable? What’s the point? What message is it sending?

The interrogator / Edition 16

Carla Sozzani

Carla Sozzani created 10 Corso Como, Milan’s most celebrated multibrand fashion store, which has a gallery, bookshop, café and hotel; there are now outposts in Seoul, New York and Beijing too. Given her career in magazines (she was the editor of Elle Italy, among others), it’s not surprising that she has maintained a love for the printed word. At Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference she will reveal how she came up with her inventive retail model; here she reveals her brunch and browsing preferences.

What news source do you wake up to? Tennis news. My partner recently woke me up watching the French Open. I am not interested in tennis; this is love.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines? Fresh press, always and only.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes? Spotify. I travel too much to follow local channels.

What’s that you're humming in the shower? I do not hum, which makes my two cats happy.

Papers delivered or a trip down to the kiosk? Delivered to home in the morning or on the back seat of the car going to the airport.

Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack? Only five? I love magazines! Editorial was my first career so I’m always looking.

Bookshop for a drizzly Saturday afternoon? Mine, of course – any time I can get there. Sometimes, when the store is closed, I’ll go and sit with the books and simply breathe; heaven.

Sofa or cinema for the evening? Bed actually, I’m sorry to say.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched of late and why? The recently discovered film showing Jean Clemmer and Salvador Dali together. A lab fire destroyed the movie but some behind-the-scenes footage and Clemmer’s wonderful photographs survived. Watching the collaborative process of artists is always exciting. Our gallery was able to host this show.

Sunday brunch routine? I used to write a blog called Sunday at my Desk every Sunday morning. It is a good time for reflecting on the week. Then brunch at my desk or on the terrace.

What papers and periodicals will be spread out around amongst the viennoiserie? Many but I am Italian: we talk at the table. I think sometimes that is why God invented food – so we could talk.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off? Tennis? My partner is now watching the tennis coverage in the evening too.

Image: Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Culture / See / Watch / Listen

Brief encounters

Rudolf Stingel, Fondation Beyeler. During Art Basel, the city’s galleries and institutions hold their best shows of the year – and the stunning Fondation Beyeler is no exception. Its big-ticket exhibition is a retrospective on Picasso’s blue-and-pink periods but make time for Rudolf Stingel too. The South Tyrolean painter is a master of deception: he plays with texture on his hyper-realistic large canvases, which replicate the folds of velvet, and photographs of Alpine landscapes. His abstract works, in contrast, are very personal: they remind us how important it is to look closer.

‘Maradona’, Asif Kapadia. With his biopic Amy, fêted documentary director Asif Kapadia showed his ability to tease the most intimate aspects out of a public persona as complex as Amy Winehouse. Here he applies the same treatment to another tormented genius – but this time the setting is a football pitch. Argentinian Diego Maradona became a hero in Naples when he brought his spectacular talent to the city’s club. Because of his mercurial temperament, things ended up taking a turn for the worse; this is the fascinating chronicle of that tragic arch.

‘Corazòn’, Pat Lok. After his full-length debut on popular French label Kitsuné Musique last year, Canadian electronic musician Pat Lok is back with a new EP. Corazòn is short and sharp, just like the story that inspired these songs: a 36-hour long fling. It’s easy to imagine plenty of similar encounters on dancefloors with these funk-filled tunes as a soundtrack. Lok brings plenty of R&B beats to proceedings; a hint of innuendo aids the music’s cheeky appeal.

Outpost news / Aruba

Dutch courage

Aruba – a small island in the Caribbean Sea just off the north coast of Venezuela – has about 100,000 citizens living among its cactus-spotted sands. It’s an independent nation and one of three islands that make up the Dutch Caribbean, which means its official language is Dutch; however, thanks to a brief period of British rule and a steady stream of US tourists, English is widely spoken. Aruba Today, the nation’s only English-language newspaper, launched 25 years ago and has a print circulation of 7,000; it covers local and international news on business, politics, arts and culture. Linda Reijnders, the paper’s editor, tells us what’s hitting the headlines.

What’s making the news this week? This week we published a piece about a study from the University of Aruba that looks at the economic impact of restaurants around the island. With about 60 per cent of people working in the public sector, the private industry can struggle to get by so it’s important to help where we can.

What is your favourite picture? There were lots of amazing images of immigrants at the US-Mexico border wall recently. I vividly remember one of a child looking out at the wall from the Mexican side.

What’s your down-page treat? Aruba is an independent nation but remains one of four sovereign states that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which means all of our citizens are officially Dutch nationals. This week some Arubans were awarded a chivalric Dutch honour from the king of the Netherlands, making them knights in the order of Orange-Nassau.

What’s the next big event coming up? We have the Aruba Hi-Winds windsurfing competition at the beginning of July. It’s an international competition with people from all over the Caribbean and even from Europe competing every year; we usually pick up plenty of awards. Aruba’s own Sarah-Quita Offringa is the 14-time PWA windsurfing world champion – we’re very proud of her.

Weekend plans / Stockholm

Fresh thinking

Central Stockholm neighbourhood Vasastan feels as though it’s been cut from a different cloth. Built in the late 1800s, it’s a maze of tall apartment buildings, wide streets and now a fetching new hotel: Blique by Nobis.

Alessandro Catenacci’s hospitality group already has spots all over town that are variously grand (the eponymous Nobis Hotel), bucolic (Hotel Skeppsholmen) and just plain fun (Miss Clara), as well as several clubs and cafés. This glum modernist building by Sigurd Lewerentz has been revived by architect Gert Wingårdh to become a springboard for discovering the area’s many galleries, shops and restaurants (Galerie Nordenhake, the Our Legacy Work Shop and Babette if you need a steer). Inside we find the pleasing hum of a post-work crowd, while the outdoor terrace and roof garden look likely to bloom as the weather improves and the hotel beds in.

Modern etiquette / Edition 10

Turn off the tap

Are there rules about allowing your child to play with an iPad in a restaurant? At our parental finishing school there most certainly are. To put this in perspective, let’s pretend that it’s 1982 and you’ve gone out to dine as a family. Would you consider it acceptable to bring along a Sony Trinitron TV and set it up beside the dinner table for your child to watch? Would you have deemed it OK to trade video distraction for a silenced toddler? Imagine if all the other diners did the same.

Just because you can pop an iPad in a purse, doesn’t mean it needs to come out in public and detract from the ambience of an otherwise lovely establishment. And no, don’t threaten us with the get-out clause that “it’s better than my child screaming”. If your progeny is poorly behaved, there’s always a babysitter just a call away.

Monocle Films / Japan

Japanese food trucks

These design-forward restaurants on wheels are more than just lunch-hour catering for Tokyo’s hardworking crowds. We visit the talented chefs, as well as a technology start-up kicking the “kitchen car” scene into gear.


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