Saturday 29 July 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 29/7/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Best-laid plans

In need of a getaway? Look no further than the Polish capital for fine food and drink or step foot in the south of France for a sunny wardrobe refresh. Plus: life on two wheels provides us with some valuable lessons and we reveal a summer playlist for the road that will make you want to roll your windows down. But first, Andrew Tuck with why you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Image: Mathieu de Muizon

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Business as usual

So that the dog can go to Spain, she needs a visit to the vet. Basically, they check that she has been microchipped, ensure that she’s not foaming at the mouth and then take £150 off you in return for a signed piece of paper – her pet passport. While Macy and I are waiting patiently (well, I am, she’s scrabbling for the door, associating the place with thermometers put in undignified places), two other men appear from a consulting room: a father and son. I hear the vet say sombrely, “Let us know later today what you would like to do with her and remember, you did the right thing.” Macy is now even more focused on getting out of here. But as they close the door, the vet swiftly turns to us and says cheerily, “So off somewhere nice?” A vet’s practice is one strange place, part assisted-dying centre, part passport office – I guess it’s a more daring mix than those coffee shops that also have a launderette attached. But with such potentially different outcomes from an appointment, no wonder Macy bounces up and down like a gleeful rabbit when we leave.

Dinner with a friend who, with no hospitality training (he’s a great photographer), has opened a cluster of F&B ventures that include a coffee shop, a bakery and a lovely neighbourhood restaurant. Maybe it’s the second glass of wine but we just have one of those conversations that’s bullshit free. He tells me about the stresses of running a thriving restaurant and especially about a contingent of people who try to knock you down. One night he sat next to a couple and observed them as they ordered the most expensive dishes, drank the wonderful wine, and left, after paying, thanking the staff for the amazing evening. The next day, they emailed the restaurant detailing how they had been rudely treated by the staff, saying that the food had been vile, and asking, before they wrote a review online, how they might be compensated. My friend suggested a free glass of wine on their next visit, so they posted a scathing online review. He’s also had people eat a sandwich but return the last bite saying that it tastes off and could they please have their money back – or else. The online review is the preferred weapon of the modern extortionist.

Would you like to work up a sweat in the bedroom? Feel like you could be pumping muscle a little more in the morning? I got an offer this week from a PR agency. Would I, or one of my team, like to be loaned a pivot bed that, once raised up, converts into a full home gym, complete with a bench and pull-up bars. I was sorely tempted to reply in the affirmative on behalf of one of my colleagues but somehow resisted. Apparently, it’s an invention aimed at “time-short urban men and women who desire easy access to strength training, women aged 40 plus who aim to maintain bone and muscle density, and older men and women who prefer the privacy of home strength training without competing with younger gym-goers.” But one thing left me confused: apparently it allows you to convert the bedroom into “a dual access room”. Hopefully dear readers, it is that for you already.

There are less than five weeks to go until our annual Quality of Life Conference in Munich. Each week we are revealing more of the amazing speakers who are attending. As businesses wonder how they can be drivers of meaningful change, I was delighted to see that Andreas Von Der Heide, the Danish co-founder of the fashion brand Les Deux, is joining us. I caught up with him recently and we talked about the school that he has built near a factory that he uses in Turkey and a sports project that he has become involved with in New York. It was impressive to hear how deeply he was thinking about the projects that he could take under his brand’s CSR banner. Von Der Heide will be just one of many people at the conference who I am confident will reshape guests’ outlooks on life, work and even morning routines. You can get a ticket here. See you there.

Image: KCTV

The Look / Cult of personality portraits

Bigger picture

When the Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, Oliver Cromwell, asked a portraitist to depict him “warts and all” in a 1656 painting, he set a new standard for political humility (writes Alexis Self). In the centuries since then, most leaders chose not to follow his lead, opting for the hagiographic over the homely when it came to releasing official imagery. But recently the candid has again become fashionable with prime ministers and presidents, most of whom are keen to be snapped if not “warts and all”, then at least chinos and all on a Cornish beach.

Kudos then to Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un who has commissioned a number of massive oil paintings glorifying him in various heroic poses to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. Tubby despot Kim, who would probably struggle to bend down and tie his own shoelaces, is depicted gallivanting about on a horse (pictured), planting trees and generally spreading benevolent anti-imperialist goodwill to his adoring people.

The paintings will be shown as part of an exhibition at Okryu House in Pyongyang aimed at exalting Kim and bolstering his cult of personality. He has also commissioned three mosaic murals of his likeness to be displayed around the capital. A more modern ruler might have thought of starting an Instagram account but as observers of Kim’s wardrobe know, this is a man more than comfortable with living in the past.

Image: Mathieu de Muizon

How we live / Cycling habits

Road less travelled

Cycling through central Annapolis in Maryland the other day, I was startled when another cyclist cheerfully said hello as they passed me on the road – so much so that I almost toppled over (writes Christopher Cermak). It’s not that I’m a silent grump but making conversation while cycling in a city is the kind of thing that has only happened to me in the US. I suspect that it’s not just because we Americans love a casual chat with strangers but also because cyclists are still a rare enough sight that we have a certain camaraderie on the roads. More than once here, I have traded a certain knowing glance or nod with an oncoming cyclist.

Over the past decade, I have gone from living in Berlin, where cyclists are so numerous and aggressive that you fear them more than the cars; to London, where strength in cycling numbers is useful to help fend off pesky cars and buses; to the Washington area, where a bus driver recently honked their horn to nudge me onto the pavement, as if I shouldn’t be sharing the road with them. While the trend is slowly changing and more bike lanes are emerging across US cities, it’s fair to say that biking still remains more of a hobby or exercise than a regular commuting option.

As South African-born Annapolis mayor, Gavin Buckley, told me recently, US cities need to take the initiative: cycling will only become the norm once proper infrastructure is in place to do it safely. It’s different in Europe, where established cycling lobbies tend to ride first then push their city halls for better infrastructure. Chicken or egg conundrum notwithstanding, until there are more of us, I’ll work on greeting my cheery fellow US cyclists without tumbling over the handlebars.

Image: Krzysztof Pacholak

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Land of plenty

The Monocle Concierge is our purveyor of top tips and delectable recommendations for your next trip. It’s also on hand in audio form on Monocle Radio, with reports and the latest travel news from around the world. If you’re planning to go somewhere nice and would like some advice, click here. We will answer one question a week.

Dear Concierge,

I am travelling to Poland to visit Warsaw and Poznan. What are your recommendations?

Adam Webb

Dear Adam,

Warsaw has undergone a great transformation over the past few years, offering an array of cultural endeavours, crowded cafés and entire quarters changed beyond recognition. It is also why it takes centre stage in the July/August issue of Monocle as one of the cities that has successfully emerged from the pandemic, made bold improvements and attracted new residents.

The northern part of the Praga district, which sits on the right riverbank of the Vistula river, is testament to this transformation. Despite being neglected for decades, the district is now home to some of the city’s most exciting projects, including Port Praski, a newly constructed urban development that hosts a mix of residential and office buildings. There you will find Brac, a wine bar and bistro serving only Polish produce. Further into the district is Proces Kawki, one of Warsaw’s best coffee roasters.

Mokotowska is the best place to shop all things fashion; the street is lined with boutiques selling jewellery and clothes produced by local designers. And the Palace of Culture and Science offers a breathtaking view of the city from its terrace on the 30th floor.

While in Poznan, make sure to visit the Stary Browar shopping centre, which features an open-air art gallery, and Park Cytadela, which is home to the permanent exhibition Unrecognised, a collection of 112 pieces by the iconic sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz. Make sure to try some St Martin croissants that are stuffed with white poppy seed cream and a variety of nuts.

Culture hits / Summer playlist

Cruise control

For the final instalment of our 60-track playlist featured in our July/August double issue, Fernando Augusto Pacheco, Monocle Radio’s senior culture correspondent and music curator, picks 10 tracks for the road to sing along to with your windows down.

‘So Low’ by Ruta Mur. One of Lithuania’s most exciting artists delights with a 1980s-inspired tune.

‘Stumblin’ In’ by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro. A classic perfect for a singalong.

‘Meant To Be’ by Jayda G. Another chilled track from the Canadian DJ.

‘I Wanna Be Myself’ by Don Laka. South African synth-disco at its best.

‘Monkey Business’ by Ryusenkei and Hitomitoi. Great contemporary Japanese city-pop.

‘Down Under’ by Men at Work. Any decent road trip needs a few surefire hits.

‘Música Ligera’ by Ana Mena. Groovy Spanish pop by this actress-cum-singer.

‘Furðuverur’ by Systur. Icelandic folk by this trio of sisters (and former Eurovision contestants).

‘Sad Flower’ by Reinizra. This mega-hit from the Thai dream-pop group is one for the romantics.

‘The Narcissist’ by Blur. The British band is back with one of its best singles in some time.

To listen to the playlist, find Monocle Radio on Spotify or tune in live to Monocle Radio for more songs. The entire playlist is also featured in our July/August issue, which is on sale now.

Image: Corey Tenold

The Interrogator / Laila Gohar

On the market

Laila Gohar is an internationally recognised artist who works with food as her creative medium. Born in Egypt, she has lived and worked in the US for the past decade. Laila’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world and her frequent collaborators include Prada, Hermès, Comme des Garçons, Simone Rocha and Sotheby’s.

What news source do you wake up to?
I listen to NPR in the morning and I usually have a short Americano that I make myself at home.

Do you have a favourite weekend market?
My favourite is the Union Square farmers’ market in New York. I make it a habit to go most days of the week, even on Saturday when it is really busy.

Any film recommendations?
I recently watched the documentary Fire of Love about the lives and careers of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. It was so beautiful.

What about books?
One of my all-time favourites is called An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. It was published several years ago but Adler recently wrote a companion cookbook that includes recommendations on how to use leftovers. There are helpful hints on what to do with celery that might be left over or a little bit of rice that’s not enough for a full pot. It’s really smart.

Going anywhere nice this year?
My mother lives in Turkey so my family and I are going there this summer.

What music will you be listening to?
There’s a lot of great Turkish music from the 1960s and 1970s that I enjoy listening to. It’s very psychedelic. Also Iranian music from that era.

What food are you looking forward to eating?
Figs are amazing in Turkey, especially at this time of year. The produce is generally very good there.

Any good restaurant recommendations from your home country?
Even though I’m not from New York, I consider it my home. My favourite restaurant is the Italian Altro Paradiso.

Fashion update / Made in Marseille

Heading south

Facing the Mediterranean basin, Marseille is emerging as a culture and fashion honey pot to rival Paris (writes Grace Charlton). With Simon Porte Jacquemus leading the charge and showing the world what the south of France has to offer, Marseille-based brands are taking inspiration from their sunny surroundings, lively nightlife and cultural happenings. We round up the creative studios and brands that are offering a fresh perspective on French fashion with an emphasis on local production.

Double Double
The idea for Double Double was born when Adelie de Soumagnat was working in Kenya and Tanzania. To compete with the dapper locals of Nairobi, De Soumagnat took patterns and fabrics to local tailors to make matching sets for herself. After moving to Marseille in 2020, she made a switch to local production, considering the ecological and social ethics of outsourcing manufacturing to Africa. “I can bike between my home and the factory now,” De Soumagnat tells The Monocle Weekend Edition. “My latest collection is made from end-of-series textiles or upcycled from providers in Marseille.” We have our eye on a gingham set inspired by Kenyan school uniforms.

Pietro B
About a third of Marseille’s population claims Italian heritage and so it was Pierre de Loriol’s Tuscan origins that inspired his brand Pietro B. “I wanted to retrace the trajectory of my grandmother’s emigration,” says De Loriol. “There’s a Latin spirit to the south of France. We like to speak with our hands.” The typical Italian gesture that De Loriol refers to – the mano a carciofo (artichoke hand) – is a recurring symbol of the brand, embroidered on T-shirts and caps by Marseille locals. “We have our own expressions that have spread across the country. Many people are leaving the traditional economic north and Paris to come here.”

The humble espadrille is a bona fide symbol of summer around the Mediterranean and Espigas’s rubber-soled version is a more durable option than traditional cork or rope models made for the city and the beach. “White rubber soles are also perfect for boats as you don’t slip or leave marks on deck,” says Bérangère Perret, who co-founded the family-owned Espigas 10 years ago. “Our bestseller is still the striped espadrille, which represents the maritime identity of the city.” The espadrilles are manufactured in the vicinity of Marseille using cotton or upcycled materials and the brand’s shop near the old port is perfect for shoes and other summer essentials including bags, jumpers and pétanque-related supplies.


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