Sunday 11 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 11/6/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Thinking bigger

First up, our editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, shares his tips for staying cool. We also recommend some top technology worth hearing about, check out the charms of a growing US corner-shop brand and explore the best places to eat in Basel ahead of next week’s art fair. Plus, Jakarta-born chef Rahel Stephanie’s Sunday rituals and our design editor’s finds in Copenhagen.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Feeling the heat

If we’re to believe the science (generally a good idea) then the coming months are set to be the hottest on record, thanks to the stirrings of El Niño and associated climate factors. While there are no shortage of mid- to long-term initiatives in play to curb the rise in temperatures, my recent visit to a few Asian capitals reminded me that Europe and the Americas have little in the way of short-term solutions to deal with sticky commutes, baking midday sun and muggy tropical evenings. Where considerable retail-shelf space is devoted to myriad solutions to stay cool and fresh in Asia, a recent scan of convenience store shelves in London, Zürich, Copenhagen and Los Angeles revealed that not only is there a glaring gap in the market to start launching products for the hot months, there’s a stunning lack of creativity and curiosity about how entrepreneurs might go the distance in keeping the consumer’s head cooler. Let’s take a little inspiration from the streets of Seoul, Tokyo and Bangkok, shall we?

Hyundai Department Store, Seoul. I’d been on a scouting mission with my colleague Fiona. We had so much ground to cover – and at such speed – that I missed out on spending a bit of extra time in the electronics department. But as I had a window before my flight back to Tokyo, I returned to the sprawling shop (a winner of a Monocle Design Award, by the way), stopped for a burger at the brilliantly named Bun Patty Bun (could it really be a play on run fatty, run?) and found myself mesmerised by the electric fans on offer from Busan-based brand Lumena. While the salesman struggled to give the full pitch using the translate function on his Samsung, I nevertheless got the idea of the overall offer and was impressed that some of the cordless fans could run for up to five hours at a medium-speed setting. The line-up of products in warm white, cosy grey and black were clearly designed with the aesthetically minded office worker in mind. Before long, I was flipping through the brochure to see whether anyone had the distribution rights to Switzerland. Good luck walking into a US or German retailer hoping to find a broad range of electric fans to fit various needs, ranging from colour schemes to wall-socket positions. For the record, there has clearly been some “inspiration” from the Japanese brand Balmuda but, as is often the case with South Korea these days, the design department at Lumena have managed to tweak and rethink things for greater commercial impact. Don’t be surprised if this company goes global – and fast.

Family Mart, Tomigaya, Tokyo. You can tell that the season has shifted by paying attention to the point-of-sale displays in Japan’s convenience stores. To mark the arrival of scorching summer days, Family Mart has a full line-up of T-shirts, socks, headbands and face cloths to keep Japanese consumers dry and crisp – all displayed in compact units that measure no more than two metres by one. Not far away, the personal-care section is expanded for the summer months with all kinds of wipes, sprays and gels to apply to shirts and brows, necks and forearms to cope with 37C days. The market for all things “cool biz” related is hardly new yet, somehow, it hasn’t managed to take hold in the aisles of shops in Europe and the Americas. For sure, it’s needed: I can recall more than a few days on trams in Vienna and Geneva when I wish I had a pack of menthol wipes to take the edge off – and offer to a couple of nearby heavy sweaters as well.

Central Chidlom department store, Bangkok. Have you spent much time in the bath and beauty aisles of a Thai department store? If so, then you will have clocked the size of the cooling-talc market in the country and the extreme formulations that keep hitting shelves as Thailand experiences ever hotter days. While the appropriately named Snake Brand Prickly Heat Cooling Powder (you couldn’t make it up!) is something of a medicine-cabinet classic, the Protex brand gets right to the point with its rocks of ice on the label and the not-so-subtle suggestion about where its male targets might want to give it a few shakes – yes, think deep south. Over the years, I’ve become something of a convert and while I’m not sure about the lasting effects of talc after a few hours, it certainly puts a tingly spring in the step for the start of what might be an otherwise muggy, oppressive morning.

Food on the move / Foxtrot, Chicago

At your convenience

It’s said that every overnight success is years in the making (writes Cornelius McGrath). As Chicago shop-cum-café Foxtrot shows after 10 years in the business, sometimes it takes time to get the recipe right. What started as co-founder Michael LaVitola’s “dream digital-only corner shop” – stocked with products from his favourite Chicago artisans, delivered in an hour or less – has grown into a nationwide brand. What’s more, it has moved beyond the confines of the screen and now has charming retail spaces.

With 15 shops in Chicago and 10 more in Washington, Dallas and Austin, LaVitola plans to end 2023 with more than 30 locations. The expansion is helped by a $185.4m (€170m) war chest. Is Foxtrot where he thought it would be after 10 years? “To see what we have built, what the team and brand have become, is amazing,” says LaVitola from Foxtrot’s shop in the heart of Chicago’s Fulton Market district. “But we’re truly just at the beginning of it all.”

Image: Kevin Serna
Image: Kevin Serna

The Foxtrot formula works – but is there anything that LaVitola is worried about when it comes to expansion? “We’re not sure yet,” he says. “Foxtrot works here in Chicago. It works in Georgetown, Washington and Dallas. The products can change but, at the end of the day, it’s about great coffee, great wine and tasty treats.” He smiles. “People everywhere want that, right?”

For more hospitality businesses that deliver and global benchmarks for entrepreneurship, pick up a copy of our June issue, which is out now. Or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue.

Fair Play / 3 Days of Design, Copenhagen

In development

Sometimes, it’s nice to work for things (writes Nic Monisse). That’s the approach that several furniture firms took over the past week in Copenhagen, where the 3 Days of Design festival wrapped up on Friday. Many exhibitions took place in an intriguing ex-industrial neighbourhood a 20-minute cycle ride from downtown Copenhagen. Several emerging brands unveiled new works amid the bunker-like concrete shipping structures and corrugated-iron sheds of Refshaleøen. My highlights? Danish design firm Natural Material Studio’s room dividers, made from a specially developed bio-textile called Procel, and Atelier Axo’s cabinets shown in an abandoned garage. The contrast between these polished new products and the yet-to-be-developed spaces showed the potential of both.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

To see what the future might hold for Refshaleøen, we can gaze across the water at Nordhavn, a 19th-century harbour that Danish brands Kvadrat, Gubi and Audo (in the form of the Audo hotel) have helped to transform into a vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood. These businesses settled into former warehouses and industrial spaces and brought design-minded people to the area during – and beyond – events such as 3 Days of Design. For now, journalists, buyers and brands might grumble about having to schlep from the city centre just to see a new chair but you can’t put a price on forging connections with up-and-coming neighbourhoods. As I left Refshaleøen, I had a funny feeling that I’d be back before long.

Sunday roast / Rahel Stephanie

Easy does it

Jakarta-born chef Rahel Stephanie’s Indonesian supper club, Spoons, has made her one of London’s most compelling culinary voices. Here, she shares her weekend plans, a penchant for Miles Davis and her delight in dim sum.

Image: Benjamin McMahon

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
Definitely a gentle start. Lately I’ve been appreciating the luxury of slower mornings. I love video-calling my sister, who lives in Melbourne. If we’re both available, Sundays are perfect for this. We sometimes talk for hours.

What’s for breakfast?
Coffee in bed – with pancakes if I’m feeling indulgent. I love a sweet breakfast.

Lunch in or out?
Out. It’s one of life’s biggest pleasures.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Anything by Miles Davis or Djanger Bali by Tony Scott and the Indonesian All Stars.

Your Sunday culture must?
Dim sum with my loved ones or Indomie instant noodles if I’m too hungover to make them.

What’s your Sunday-evening routine?
I love a lazy, leisurely evening so I don’t have much of one. Maybe I will cook up a nice dinner for me and my partner, watch something, read a book and listen to some music.

Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Not unless I have to go somewhere special or am meeting someone first thing in the morning.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Pea and crab crostini

“I can’t wait to serve this refreshing snack to my guests in the early summer,” says our Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “Some lightly toasted chilli flakes or a little honey will also go well with this dish and you can substitute the crème fraîche with fresh ricotta, as I did recently at an olive estate in Provence.”

Illustration: Xihannation

Serves 4, as a snack


150g fresh peas
1 fresh baguette
Olive oil, to drizzle, plus extra for serving
50g white crabmeat
5g tarragon, finely chopped
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 lemon, zest and juice
4 tbsps crème fraîche
Chilli flakes, to taste


Cook the peas in boiling salt water for 4 minutes until just tender. Drain, cool under cold water and then drain again.

Cut the baguette into eight slices. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Grill for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool.

Place the peas in a bowl and mash with a fork. Mix in the crabmeat, tarragon, black pepper and another drizzle of olive oil, as well as the zest and juice of half of the lemon.

Spread a little crème fraîche on every toasted slice of baguette. Top each with a dollop of the crabmeat mixture.

Serve with more grated lemon zest, chilli flakes and a final drizzle of olive oil.

Top tables / Basel

City lights

Thursday marks the public opening of Art Basel, the world’s largest and most influential art fair, which runs until Sunday 18 June (writes Jack Simpson). More than 200 galleries will be showing the work of over 4,000 artists from five continents. As well as at the Messe Basel exhibition site, many deals will be sealed over dinners and drinks. Here, we suggest a few of the Swiss city’s best bits.

Image: Samuel Schalch
Image: Samuel Schalch
Image: Samuel Schalch

Basel address book

Volkshaus Basel
A smart 45-key hotel in the Kleinbasel neighbourhood. Visit the buzzy 1920s brasserie that was recently revamped by Herzog & de Meuron and try the veal schnitzel.

Kuni & Gunde
An airy, timber-panelled café on Schneidergasse, opened by Tim Peters and Tobias Mingramm late last year. Stop by for seasonal open sandwiches, salads and a decent selection of natural wine. Ideal for a light lunch.

Amber Bar
Saunter down the eastern bank of the Rhine between the Johanniterbrücke and Mittlere Brücke and you’ll spy Amber. Seek out a spot under the striped parasols of the rooftop terrace, a turreted space at the top of a terracotta-hued tower within the kHaus museum.

For more on Art Basel, tune in to Monocle Radio this week and keep an eye on The Monocle Minute newsletter. And don’t miss our art special in Monocle’s June issue, which is out now.

Tech corner / Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

Now hear this

These lightweight over-ear headphones from Bose offer a more powerful sound than in-ear alternatives and are ideal for travel (writes David Phelan). The US brand’s noise-cancelling is second to none so even the harshest background noise shouldn’t interfere with what you’re listening to when you’re on the move. Even with the noise-cancelling switched off, the audio is still immersive, balancing clarity with a strong low end.

Illustration: Yusuke Saitoh

For a smart read on everything from design to diplomacy, art to architecture and living well, subscribe today to Monocle. Oh, and have a super Sunday.


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