Sunday 4 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 4/6/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Time to tuck in

This week our editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, shares his wisdom before we profile a beautiful new Dorset showroom, the gallery to watch in San Francisco and a beautiful new bolthole in Oslo. Plus, we bring you a New York publisher’s sporty Sunday routine, a fruity Roman take on the doughnut from our favourite chef and reveal where to join us for the best sausages and German beer in Japan.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Answering the call

Today, I’m taking the long way home: Tokyo Narita, a short jump over the north Pacific, across Alaska, over Canada and Greenland, and down the coast of Norway on a track to Zürich. Thankfully, I had the good sense to take my colleagues Emma and Dave out for a taste of Nakameguro into the near sunny hours (there’s still a certain thrill about introducing the uninitiated to Japan), so I slept for most of the flight, attempted to watch the NBC series American Auto (how? why?) and have now found a couple of hours to catch up on correspondence by emptying the Monocle mail sack and sifting through some of your most pressing queries. For the sake of efficiency and clarity, I’ve done a bit of editing and polishing to keep the tone sunny and breezy for a Sunday morning.

We’re working with a design firm who are suggesting that we have more greenery in our offices to encourage people to feel more relaxed and get them back into the office. Some of what they’re proposing is plastic mixed with real plants and shrubs. Do you think this is OK and will anyone really notice?
If you invite me over, I’ll notice. The first thing I’ll ask is, how does the plastic bamboo forest square with your company’s fight against petroleum-based products? Who’s going to dust the bamboo? And who the hell is the design firm you commissioned? More importantly, who gave them the gig? If you’re going to do plants and flowers, do the real thing or don’t bother. I was recently at a hotel in Hong Kong and, in order to create privacy, they had gone crazy with fake ivy everywhere. Why? Pretty much anything grows in sultry Hong Kong, so just whack something in the planters and you’ll have real, fluffy, flowering privacy in no time.

I’ve noticed that you’re publishing more magazines and special editions than ever before but sometimes I find it difficult to track down everything at my local kiosk. Is there a place where you announce new projects and where I can get them?
You’re quite correct. It seems that more new print projects spawn more titles to fill your tote and coffee table. It’s an excellent idea for us to add a “coming soon” component to this newsletter and, as well as making it easy for you to find our products in your local market. Please consider this project kicked-off. To get things rolling, I can tell you that the summer edition of Konfekt is on newsstands imminently; we have another Monocle Companion coming out for summer (you can buy the last one here); we’re launching a new series dubbed Monocle in…, starting in Paris; there’s a juicy edition of Mediterraneo under way; and our new book on bathing, beach and bronzing culture is at the printers. All of these will be available via and at a summer season of launch events.

I’ve noticed that the hotel slipper seems to be acceptable footwear at pretty much all five-star establishments? In the absence of clear house rules, is it OK to follow the lead of the other guests?
Are you seriously asking this question in this forum? Seriously? The answer is no. The problem starts with too many hotel staff greeting guests these days by saying, “Welcome home.” This needs to stop. Unless you’re the owner of the property and have a wing for your family, it’s not your home; it’s a public space and demands that people treat it as such. If you give people the impression that it’s their home, you open a pandora’s box of all kinds of behaviours: boxer shorts in the breakfast room, tablets propped up on the bar for video calls, prams parked everywhere – on it goes. Hotels need to start reining it in and get back to the business of creating an atmosphere that befits the reputation that they might have built for a century, rather than encouraging a free-for-all.

I noticed that you’re back in the air quite a bit these days. What is your favourite airline at the moment?
As my home hub is Zürich, I fly Swiss a lot (currently in 1K on one of their 777s). They do a solid job and there is some ambition. With a batch of new A350s joining their fleet, you can watch for some new routes out of Zürich shortly. I was also happy to be flying Cathay Pacific again and I’m keen to see some of their forthcoming product upgrades. Finally, Air France do a very, very good job in First Class.

One of your regular delegates told me that at your forthcoming Quality of Life Conference in Munich, it will be a requirement to wear lederhosen and dirndls. True?
I think this is wishful thinking on the part of this very regular delegate but it’s an excellent idea: everyone looks good in Tracht. That said, people will be expected to look their elegant best and traditional Bavarian attire does make packing quite easy. You’ll want to go to Lodenfrey or Ludwig Beck and have them sort you out. It should come as no surprise that a few Monocle editors will be kitted out head to toe. If you would like to join us for our annual summit on cities and better living, you can find out more here. Tschuss!

Food on the move / Schmatz, Tokyo

Culinary imports

Sitting in the Nakameguro outlet of the German restaurant chain that he co-founded in Tokyo, Marc Luetten (pictured) looks the picture of success. The restaurant is buzzing, sausage platters are flying out of the kitchen and German draft beer is being served in elegant glasses. Today, 31-year-old Luetten heads up Schmatz, a thriving company with 40 restaurants in Japan, 700 staff and nearly a million customers a year. But none of this was guaranteed when he and 35-year-old Christopher Ax left careers in venture capital to follow their dream of starting a business.

Image: Asuka Ito
Image: Asuka Ito

Even though they had no experience in food or hospitality, the plan to bring German food and beer to Japan started to take shape. The entrepreneurial duo headed to Tokyo in 2013 armed with a slender budget of ¥2m (about €14,000), which covered the cost of a second-hand food truck and meagre living expenses. In three months they were under way, grilling sausages and serving beer at a farmer’s market in Aoyama in central Tokyo. “There were hard days when the weather was cold and we didn’t sell a single sausage,” says Luetten. “But it was fun and even those times teach you the realities of the business.”

The initial plan was for 100 Schmatz restaurants and outlets to open at speed over the first few years. Then the pandemic gave the founders time to reassess. The idea now is to grow slowly and focus more on the experience, grounding the restaurants in their communities and responding to local interests. “We don’t want to be another cookie-cutter chain,” says Luetten.

For the full report and more opportunities to chew over, subscribe to Monocle magazine today, or pick up a copy of our out-now June issue.

Top of the shops / Another Country, UK

Simple forms

“Not that long ago, a lot of the furniture people had in their homes was made locally,” says Paul de Zwart, founder of UK furniture and homeware brand Another Country. “There’s beauty, simplicity and honesty in that way of making and we want to recreate it in our designs.” Since starting in 2010, the firm had close ties with Dorset, where it develops prototypes and works on bespoke commissions, which makes its new showroom in nearby Semley – and Another Country’s first space beyond London – a natural fit. “It made sense for us to come home as a brand,” continues De Zwart. “It’s a stone’s throw from where the first pieces were made.”

Image: Sam Walton
Image: Sam Walton

Located at Chaldicott Barns, with neighbours including Japanese gardening specialists Niwaki and Compton McRae café and deli, the new shop is spread across three spaces dedicated to the living room, kitchen and dining room, and bedroom respectively. On show is the majority of Another Country’s collection, including furniture by award-winning designer David Irwin and Another Country’s own range of house lamps. A selection of paintings by London-based artist David Murphy helps the shop feel homely and welcoming and – being a longish drive from London – the location makes it a perfect pit-stop for those making their way to the West Country. “Dorset is a great destination where there are things happening,” says De Zwart. “At Chaldicott Barns you can stop for coffee or lunch at the café and grab some secateurs from Niwaki.” A nice new lamp or side table from Another Country would be a welcome addition to your haul too.

Sunday Roast / Caitlin Thompson

Holding court

Elegant print quarterly Racquet has covered the finer side of tennis and courtside culture since 2016. Publisher Caitlin Thompson co-founded the title as a tribute to and a revival of the swashbuckling heyday of 1970s and 1980s tennis. Here, fresh from a Paris pop-up in May, Thompson shares her Sunday itinerary.

Where do we find you this weekend?
With friends and family at one of our favourite watering holes, Rocco’s in Manhattan. We’ll be saluting the culmination of clay season, which is my favourite part of the tennis calendar.

Jolt or slow start?
I make breakfast for my wife and my son Peter, and we usually head out immediately after. If I can, I start with a jog to the courts – there are some fabulous red clay courts on the Hudson River right at 96th Street, and you only have to pay $15 for a permit.

Soundtrack of choice?
I’m listening to the new Jenny Lewis album a lot right now but I keep returning to Khruangbin’s “Texas Moon”, which they made with Leon Bridges; that just gets me in such a nice mood.

What’s for breakfast?
I like to make challah bread, which is fluffy Jewish deli-style bread that’s very good for French toast.

News or not?
I put all of my devices away on Sundays and try to read as much on paper as I possibly can.

Lunch in or out?
I live on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, so have an embarrassment of riches in incredible food around here. I do like to get a shawarma from Manousheh Grand.

A Sunday culture must?
I try to spend Sunday with family and friends but I will on occasion go to an excellent cinema near me called Metrograph.

Any larder essentials that you can’t live without?
I cook a lot with sambal and tomatillos. I also cook a lot from the Dishoom cookbook so usually have a giant container of onion and tomato masala in my freezer.

Do you lay out your look for Monday?
One of the many benefits of running a tennis media company is that I get to wear tennis clothes all the time. On occasion, though, I’ll put extra thought into which tennis outfit I’m going to wear but whether I’m pre-court or post-game, I always want to look sporty.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling


This Roman take on the humble doughnut is a cream-filled delight studded with ruby-coloured fruit for tartness. “The best ones can be found at Pasticceria Regoli in Rome,” says Swiss chef Ralph Schelling, who explains that most berries work within the cream. “This is a simplified version and I often add orange-flower water too. I particularly love maritozzi with fresh wild strawberries.”

Makes 10


For the pre-dough:
130ml lukewarm whole milk (plus extra for coating)
1.5 tsps dry yeast
150g flour
1 tbsp sugar

For the dough:
150g softened butter
125g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
4 medium eggs
400g flour

For the filling:
500ml cream
1 heaped tbsp powdered sugar
50g wild Italian strawberries (other berries work too)


Mix milk, yeast, flour and sugar for the pre-dough in a mixing bowl, then leave it to rise (covered with a tea towel) for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients for the dough and knead with the dough hook of a hand mixer for about five to seven minutes, until it’s airy and bubbles form. Cover again and leave to rise for a further 10 minutes.

Turn out dough onto a floured work surface and divide into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then shape it into a loaf of about 10cm long, slightly tapered at the ends. Line a tray with baking paper and place the pieces equally spaced on the tray.

Cover and let rise for about 60 minutes, then preheat the oven to 180C.

Brush the maritozzi with milk and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

For the filling, whip the cream with the sugar until stiff.

Cut the maritozzi in half lengthwise (not quite all the way through) and fill with whipped cream. Alternatively, you can cut them like a roll and fill them that way, adding some wild strawberries or berries before serving. Enjoy.

Weekend plans? / Villa Inkognito, Oslo

Secret stays

Just-opened Villa Inkognito sits next to Sommerro, the spectacular 231-room hotel that opened last year in the art deco former HQ of Norway’s state energy company in Oslo’s West End. By contrast, the 1870s villa has just 11 rooms and is geared towards relaxation and privacy. Built by architect Thøger Binneballe, the building hosted the Algerian embassy from 1980. As the hotel’s name suggests, it is supposed to feel mysterious and there is indeed an atmosphere of delightful discretion here – it’s part fairy tale, part Orient Express.

Image: Thomas Ekström
Image: Thomas Ekström

The interiors are a mix of classic Norwegian, art nouveau with hints of arts and crafts, and a bit of Japonisme, all rooted in the history of the building, which was brought to life by interior design company GrecoDeco. This passageway between the villa and the larger hotel is handy if you would like to swim in Sommerro’s pool and spa, Vestkantbadet, which features a restored walrus mosaic by Per Krohg. Back at Villa Inkognito, have a cheeky nightcap in the Lily Pad room or indulge your curiosity in the Poppy Library (books are on loan from the National Museum library) before bed.

For more fresh openings and hospitality finds subscribe to Monocle magazine today.

Venue of the week / ICA, San Francisco

Pushing boundaries

Silicon Valley’s start-up spirit seems to have rubbed off on the new Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco (ICA SF). Set in the former Esprit campus, the gallery opened its doors late last year, just 18 months after the concept was first floated. “Moving quickly and risk-taking are the vision of this institution,” says Christine Koppes, ICA SF’s curator and director of curatorial affairs. She wanted to work on exhibitions by artists who are doing “something big”. Choctaw-Cherokee painter and sculptor Jeffrey Gibson answered that call with “This Burning World”, a multimedia installation that consisted of him cutting trenches into the museum’s concrete floor with a diamond saw blade.

Image: Aaron Wojack

It was a suitably loud announcement for the rest of the burgeoning Dogpatch art neighbourhood that this new kid on the block isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. ICA SF’s status as a non-collecting institution facilitates a degree of artistic freedom. In lieu of constantly maintaining a permanent collection, Koppes believes that the institution is better placed to “focus our funding and time on the artists directly”.

Not that ICA SF eschews collecting as such. Patrons have flocked to the Collector Starter Pack, an instructional series in which staff teach the basics of browsing and buying art. “A lot of people are interested in purchasing work but it can feel intimidating,” says Koppes. Despite rumours of San Francisco’s and its technology behemoths’ demise, the city remains a place of new wealth that can be channelled into supporting culture and ICA SF may yet play a role in the process.

Tech corner / Ruark R1S Smart Radio

Fine tuning

With its grey lacquer case and walnut grille, Ruark’s latest tabletop radio, the R1S, is as elegant as it is advanced (writes David Phelan). Although compact, it delivers plenty of volume and has a rich, warm tone. It offers DAB, DAB+ and FM radio alongside online stations. You can also play music from your phone on its speaker via Bluetooth.


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