This week we splash out with a profile of a Swiss town that has turned the tide and embraced its natural springs and river, and reserve a spot at Madrid’s hottest new rooftop pool. Elsewhere we hear a fêted Finnish designer’s weekend plans, try out a snappy new piece of beachside technology and clink glasses of a much-recommended rosé. Cin cin! First up, Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, is making waves.
Do you recall the 1990s BBC comedy series Keeping Up Appearances, starring Patricia Routledge as the status-obsessed Hyacinth Bucket? If you’re not familiar with this occasionally sharp commentary on the British class system, then there’s your Sunday evening viewing sorted. On Monday afternoon I experienced something resembling a live episode of the programme – albeit in a mix of German and French on a Swiss train between Geneva and Zürich.
On entering the First Class “silence carriage” at Geneva Cointrin, I spotted a rather buxom older woman seated on the left side (direction of travel) and immediately thought, “Oh, Patricia Routledge must have boarded at the airport and is on her way to visit friends in Montreux.” Or perhaps she was going to Gstaad to escape the temperatures (more on the Alpine resort in a minute). I didn’t really think it was her but it was a nice little fantasy to add a bit of colour to this otherwise hot and stuffy afternoon. Despite it being a busy carriage, I managed to secure a two-seat arrangement to myself and set about organising things for the more than two-hour trip back to Zürich. Given that it was the end of the day, it was toasty and there were a lot of commuters who had skipped out of the office early, I was aware that the “silence carriage” wasn’t going to be all that quiet and wondered what dirty looks and tellings off were being warmed up for potential offenders. The first 15 minutes were quite civilised as everyone was happy to be cool on a train rather than parched on a platform. Beers were opened, water bottles glugged and it felt as though many might doze off rather than catch up on emails.
Somewhere outside Morges the gent across from me was startled by his own phone, which went off with a flash of light and a squawk. He answered immediately and fumbled with his earphones while listening to the seemingly important person at the other end of the line. As he looked for a pen and his tablet, he managed to regain his composure and got on top of the call. Was he going to excuse himself or discuss his order backlog for the next 10 minutes? When he glanced my way I gave a gentle nod to the sign on the window beside him – the all-important, globally recognised “Don’t talk” icon (massive sealed lips with an index finger pressed up against them) alongside imagery with red strike marks across a mobile phone and a long-obsolete audio device with accompanying headphones. If that’s not clear enough, there’s further reinforcement with the words: Ruhezone, Espace Silence, Zona del Silenzio, Quiet Zone. The gent offered an embarrassed smile, made an apologetic nod and ducked out of the carriage to continue his call.
She gave me a knowing little wink and grinned. She’d done her civic duty. Order was restored, the carriage was properly silent
As I watched the automatic glass door close behind him, I noticed an older couple in bucket hats chattering away in French. They were taking in the scenery and seemed to be enjoying the passing vineyards and well-manicured lawns surrounding various multinational HQs. She had more to say than he did and, as this was turning into a running commentary, I could only assume that they were French-French and not Swiss-French. I’d already done my bit of regulation enforcement so I felt that I needed to take a break; I occasionally glanced in their direction but they were too taken by Lac Léman to pay me much notice. Shortly after, I could hear and feel someone striding my direction – it was fantasy Ms Routledge in a belted poppy-and-white-print shirt dress, sensible summer sandals and a hairdo that was so set that it would withstand 100 per cent humidity, a tropical downpour and an accompanying hailstorm. She strode past and stopped in front of the French couple. This was going to be good.
“Hallo,” she said and pointed to the sign.
The French couple looked at the sign, looked back at fantasy Routledge and made that face that only the French know how to pull – the slight puckering of lips that turn down at the edges; essentially the facial version of a shrug.
“Nein, nein; non, non,” scolded Swiss Routledge, who was clearly from the German side of the country and wasn’t going to be taking any Latin guff. She gestured around her, arms wide and went back to the sign. “Espace Silence, oui?” She then made the unmistakable “zip it/shut your trap” motion across a gentle smile, nodded to the pair and then turned. As she passed, she gave me a knowing little wink and grinned. She’d done her civic duty. Order was restored, the carriage was properly silent and Hyacinth Bucket would have been proud.
I returned to reading Elliot Ackerman’s 2034 and, while we’re speaking of geopolitical flare-ups, if you happen to like his work and want to hear from him, make your way to Gstaad next weekend for the World of Words literary festival. Monocle 24’s Georgina Godwin will be on hand to interview Martin Suter on Saturday evening and Elliot Ackerman will be joining us for a special edition of ‘Monocle on Sunday’. Hope to see you there.
Some like it hot; some like it cold. The postcard-pretty town of Baden in Switzerland offers both: a cool, rapid-flowing river runs through it, while warm geothermal waters bubble up from beneath. Three new thermal baths, two public and one private, opened in 2021, all within a 10-minute walk from Baden’s main train station. The two public baths, Heisse Brunnen Baden and Heisse Brunnen Ennetbaden, face each other across the Limmat. Sitting above them is the Fortyseven private bath. Designed by Mario Botta, the complex is a draw for tourists and architecture enthusiasts alike. The stone structure crowns the revived Bäderquartier (bathing quarter), with pools that glow by night and steam by day.
Baden and Ennetbaden address book
Ristorante il Brunello Pizzeria, Baden
Perfect for a morning coffee or a sundown spritz, seated on cheerful coloured chairs.
Brasserie Schwanen, Ennetbaden
A stunning Jugendstil dining room from 1897 turns out solid Swiss classics.
Pepe Nero, Ennetbaden
This well-turned-out Italian restaurant features excellent pasta and grilled meats, served under vast red parasols.
The original grand hotel building from 1834 is across the Limmat from its more recent extension. limmathof.ch
For the full report on how the tides are changing in Baden, pick up a copy of the July/August issue of Monocle magazine, which is out now.
Finnish designer Katriina Nuutinen is known for her delicate glasswork, lighting and ceramics (writes Monica Lillis). This year her first solo exhibition, Wonders of the World, a collection of work in glass and wood, adorned with flowers, opened at the KUWM museum in Fiskars, Finland. Here, from her base in Joensuu, North Karelia, she shares the pleasure of being back in her studio, in-season asparagus and planning an outfit.
How do you like to begin a Sunday: a gentle start or a jolt?
I like to linger in bed and enjoy breakfast while reading the newspaper.
What’s for breakfast?
Lots of Moka pot espresso with warm oat milk. I might also prepare vegan pancakes with frozen blueberries or a smoothie.
Lunch in or out?
On Sundays my family gets together to cook and share a meal. We like to laugh a lot and take things slowly.
Walk the dog or downward dog?
I usually walk for a couple of hours in the forest or by the lake. Last Sunday I went to aerial yoga and fell in love with it. That might become part of my new routine.
What’s your Sunday soundtrack?
My children practising the piano or guitar.
Sunday culture must?
If l feel like l have all the time in the world, l might visit a flea market, vintage shop or an exhibition.
News or not?
Yes but only in the morning.
A glass of something you’d recommend?
A small cup of coffee with a sweet. Finnish tap water is also a true privilege.
What’s on the menu?
Asparagus, especially in season. I always like to have vegetables on my plate.
Sunday evening routine?
Going to bed early and reflecting on the good things that happened that weekend. Monday is not until tomorrow.
Are you preparing Monday’s outfit?
Now that I go to the studio and meet people, I have started to enjoy dressing up. The snowy wintertime has passed and it is fun to think about which vintage dress or skirt I am going to wear the next day.
The Pitti Uomo menswear fair, held in Florence this week, had plenty of summer dressing ideas to offer. Taking into account rising temperatures and a return to busier schedules, brands took a turn towards easy-going elegance, with clothes that didn’t shout for attention. Top-quality fabrics, sophisticated cuts and hidden functional details did the talking instead. For De Bonne Facture’s Deborah Neuberg, who is known for her commitment to natural fabrics, the answer to chic summer dressing lies in all things linen. Her next spring-summer collection is filled with loose linen suits to be worn with open-knit polo shirts.
And speaking of polo shirts – real summer staples – Robe di Kappa is a name to look out for. The brand owned by Turin-based group Basic Net, which is being relaunched internationally this year, offer crafted polos, inspired by archival designs from the 1960s. The shirts are knitted in a single piece (apart from the collar) that goes on to be hand-stitched by artisans at Robe di Kappa’s Italian factory. “People are dressing less outrageously and appreciating craft more, so this is the moment for us,” says CEO Lorenzo Boglione, who recommends a summer uniform of white tailored trousers, polo shirts and Sebago loafers.
For others, luxury has come to equal lightness. Herno has developed a series of featherlight padded linen jackets and applied its technical Laminar fabric to tailored suits, which look smart yet weigh as little as a pair of cycling shorts. Danish designer Frederik Berner Kühl, a promising new name at the fair, also applied an elastane fabric – usually reserved for Speedos – to blazers. They complemented his classic range of suits made from luxurious cotton-silk or Japanese wool fabrics. “We need to think long-term and buy clothes that will feel just as relevant in 10 years time,” he said. Wise words indeed.
Making bread can be tough for the uninitiated but this recipe from our Swiss chef is a sure-fire winner and makes a sumptuous starter or side. “The olive oil that you mix with the water at the end is the secret weapon,” says Schelling. “The focaccia stays wonderfully moist. Try it – it works.”
Makes one focaccia (enough for 8 people)
20g baker’s yeast
300ml lukewarm water
400g plain white flour
90ml extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
A few sprigs of rosemary
A pinch of coarse sea salt
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.
Put the flour and semolina in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast-infused water, honey, table salt and a third of the olive oil and mix.
Knead in a food processor with the dough hook for one to 2 minutes (or about 5 minutes by hand), until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover with a damp cloth and let rise at room temperature for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 240C. Pour another third of the olive oil on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper and spread the dough evenly to a depth of about 0.5cm thick.
Coarsely chop the garlic and pluck the rosemary leaves from their stems, which you can discard. Press rows of finger-sized wells into the dough and spread with the rosemary and garlic.
Mix the remaining third with a couple of tablespoons of water and spread over the top and spread out the generous pinch of coarse sea salt evenly over the top.
Bake for about 15 minutes until the bread and topping begin to brown. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and serve.
The ambitious three-year fit-out of the new Madrid Edition, which is perched between Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, was undertaken by architect John Pawson and Paris-based François Champsaur. A statement marble staircase swirls people up to the cream-coloured retro-future lounge and lobby. Restaurant Jerónimo, headed by Enrique Olvera, is not to be missed.
“The architecture we inherited, a modern building with a baroque portal, was the conceptual starting point,” says Pawson, who describes the entire project as a lively conversation with place. “[Hotelier] Ian Schrager and I talked about combining the energy and optimism of La Movida Madrileña with the sensory richness of a Velázquez painting,” he says. “This is the energy we wanted to flow out to become part of the wider cultural and social life of this part of the city.”
Last but not least is the roof, where Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz’s Oroya restaurant sits alongside Madrid’s biggest sky-high pool. Surely this will be Madrid’s most coveted sunbed this summer.
The latest in-ear headphones from Bang & Olufsen feature great sound in a fully waterproof design, so they’re suitable whether you’re on the beach or poolside (writes David Phelan). The design comes in three colours – anthracite oxygen, gold tone and black anthracite – and the charging case is brushed aluminium. The earphones are small, despite having a 9.2mm speaker driver, giving impressive sound while still fitting the ear comfortably, even for a long time. They also work well for making and receiving calls, thanks to three microphones on each earbud that efficiently reduce background noise. The latest Bluetooth technology means that the earphones can connect to two separate devices, so you can listen to tracks from a music player but take calls when your phone rings.
Monocle’s quality of life-themed July/August issue, which is out now, includes a feature espousing 25 tips for living well and being happy. Here we share a bright idea from Switzerland – bottoms up.
Whether you find yourself on a sun-soaked patio or a terrace this Sunday, a glass of rosé is bound to hit the spot. The ideal blend should be crisp and snappy; something that lasts on your palate. According to Monocle’s resident wine expert, Chandra Kurt, L’été avec Deux Frères (pictured), the latest release from Swiss wine-makers Florian and Gian Grundböck, ticks all the boxes. A blend of grenache, syrah and other white-grape varieties, the wine conjures up the feeling of an afternoon spent in the sun. That’s because crafting such a mood was essential to the brothers’ creative process. “For me, a good rosé should taste like summer,” says Gian Grundböck. Cheers. And have a wonderful weekend.