Saturday 19 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 19/8/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Dream team

There’s a buzz in the air as the finalists of the Women’s World Cup get set for a Sydney showdown and we explore how the competition has encouraged its players to cut a dash on and off the pitch. Plus: Andrew Tuck reminds us that there are only two weeks to go until Monocle’s editors make their way over to Munich for the Quality of Life Conference. Until then, we’ll be trying to get our hands on a Danish rococo coffee pot for our morning brew. Are you ready? It’s all to play for.

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Meeting of minds

It’s not like going to the annual dentists’ convention (one imagines a sea of very white teeth) or the stone carvers’ symposium (lots of calloused hands) where everyone has the same job. I have been to many mono-trade events with my Monocle reporting cap on and, while they can be interesting, the talk quickly turns inwards and jargon-laden. Yes, everyone is on the same page and has similar life stories but sometimes you want, well, more. Some excitement, to meet people whose experiences are very unlike yours, to hear about people’s passions and projects that might just reorient your views a little.

Back in 2015 we took a leap of faith and decided to host a conference that focused, in a very broad way, on quality of life. And the only thing that all the delegates would have in common would be that they read the magazine. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out, very little. And, what’s more, it soon transpired that the people who bought tickets often shared a common perspective: they were people who sought connections beyond their professions (and they wanted to have a good time.)

Years ago, at the dawn of Monocle, someone wrote a story about us, predicting our swift demise. They said that we were seeking a non-existent reader who cared as much about Somalia as Jil Sander. I have always cherished that put down and been inspired by it because then, and now, we live in a world where you should seek to understand how everything interplays, to see how good design can improve healthcare outcomes, fine architecture can enhance the quality of children’s education and how well-run businesses can do good in their communities.

It’s this interplay that comes to the fore every year at the Quality of Life Conference. The speakers step on stage and articulate their experiences, talking about their work and their battles. And, slowly, a rich picture of our interconnected lives reveals itself. Yet for all the fascinating people on stage, the other remarkable thing for me is the role that you, the delegates, play.

At the welcome reception, you see people who have flown in from around the world, often on their own, wondering who they should speak to first (don’t worry, a Monocle squad member will be over in a flash). Cut to the farewell breakfast and there’s just a hum of conversation between new friends. Perhaps because people might only think that they have Monocle in common (and these days they may be radio listeners, fans of The Monocle Minute, not just subscribers) and don’t come from one trade, they have to tell their stories in jargon-free language and be open to each other. The result is magical. While some people may simply exchange a card at that final gathering, many make connections that go deeper. Last year at our conference in Paris, I tried to introduce two people but was told that they had met before in Athens and had just been on holiday together with their respective families. Last week, I was emailed by an event attendee (normally resident in London) who is in shipping and had just met up with another former delegate (a gallerist in China) in Hong Kong. People have changed jobs and even moved countries after coming to the conference.

There are now just less than two weeks until this year’s event, which is taking place in Munich. And the line-up of speakers is amazing. We have the mayors of Bratislava and Dallas, Matus Vallo and Eric Johnson, talking about running a city; Eleni Myrivili of the Atlantic Council Arsht-Rockefeller Resilience Center on urban spaces; the celebrated graphic designer Mirko Borsche on understanding Bavaria; Olaide Oboh of developer Socius on community building; Carsten Spohr, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa, on what’s next for aviation; and many more talented folk. It’s going to be thrilling. Perhaps you would like to join us? It’s a couple of days out of your week but it will be fun, engaging and inspiring. You can buy tickets on Or contact our events chief, Hannah Grundy, at

Image: Nike

The Look / Martine Rose x Nike

So far, sew good

Tomorrow, England’s Lionesses and Spain’s La Roja will vie for the trophy in the final of the Women’s World Cup at Stadium Australia in Sydney (writes Grace Charlton). But in the meantime, we can already crown the sartorial winners of the tournament: the US women’s national team made quite the arrival in double-breasted navy suits and neon trainers by Jamaican-British fashion designer Martine Rose in collaboration with sportswear behemoth Nike.

The tailored numbers sported by Megan Rapinoe (pictured), Trinity Rodman and the team’s captain, Alex Morgan, feature a discreet houndstooth pattern and come with a shirt, trench coat and accessories such as gloves and sunglasses to complete the range. The square-toed iteration of the Shox Mule MR4 trainers in vibrant hues are inspired by goalkeeping football jerseys from the 1990s. A close runner-up to the US uniform is English designer Grace Wales Bonner’s take on the Jamaica kit for the Reggae Girlz. As interest in women’s football grows, it’s nice to see that the sartorial perks that come with the game are also being extended to its female players – and hopefully lucrative deals equal to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Image: Mathieu de Muizon

How we live / Cherry season

Sweet spot

Every summer, the amount of antioxidants in the Pacific Northwest diet increases (writes Gregory Scruggs). Farmworkers across the region rise before dawn to pluck cherries by hand, with a bumper crop this year expected to yield 371,000 tonnes of the delectable fruit. As soon as the bright-red Bings and yellow-pink Rainiers begin showing up at farmers’ markets, grocery shop shelves and roadside fruit stands, our daily cherry intake spikes. For this brief, glorious June-to-August window, even social rules change: it would be rude not to have a bowl of the fruit on offer when guests visit.

While our ravenous appetite for fresh cherries makes a healthy dent in the annual yield, some 30 per cent of the crop is shipped abroad, mostly to East Asia. South Korea is a particularly hungry customer for US varieties, while China Cargo Airlines even has a special livery, the Cherry Express, featuring a pair of luscious red lips clutching an equally luscious red fruit, for its transpacific flights that carry fresh produce from Seattle.

Meanwhile, thanks to a supply glut, my family is gleefully feasting on cherries for just $2 per pound (that’s €4.05 per kilogram). Over video chat, my Malaysian mother-in-law’s eyes bulge as she watches her granddaughter gobble them by the fistful – such a habit would cost a fortune in Johor Bahru. It is a perk of living in one of the world’s fruit baskets, at least for temperate crops. When my wife craves papaya, we shell out an outrageous sum to eat tropical produce. “How much?” my mother-in-law asks over Whatsapp, before making a counteroffer. “Free,” she says, gesturing at the plump ones in her garden, provided that we bring her granddaughter for a visit.

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Spa of the show

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 will be visiting Estonia for a week and plan to be in Tallinn and on Saaremaa island. Any recommendations for a truly local experience?

San Francisco

Dear Tarisai,

Estonia is still relatively untouched by mass tourism and it is easy to find authentic experiences. Tallinn’s medieval old town is beautiful but for a more local vibe, head to the vibrant and youthful Telliskivi neighbourhood. Juniperium Distillery has some of the best cocktails in Estonia and the famed chef Peeter Pihel’s restaurant on the top floor of the Fotografiska museum is a wonderful window into the country’s flavours. Another Monocle favourite is the Lore Bistroo in the city’s Noblessner district.

Saaremaa is known both for its natural beauty and spa culture, so a visit to the historic spa town of Kuressaare is a must. To truly immerse yourself in nature, we recommend a stay at the countryside resort of Laugu. It’s an old farmhouse that also features an authentic Estonian smoke sauna, for which the country earned Unesco cultural heritage status. For something more upmarket, we recommend staying at the Pädaste Manor on the adjacent island of Muhu (a 2km-long bridge from Saaremaa), which is the finest of Estonia’s numerous historic manor houses. When it comes to food, it is hard to beat Särg, a family-run restaurant in the small fishing village of Nasra that relies solely on local produce and freshly caught fish.

Culture cuts / Watch, listen, read

Turn a page

‘Lie With Me’, Jean-Paul Belmondo. Based on a bestselling semi-autobiography by Philippe Besson, this French drama follows the life of a novelist who returns to his provincial hometown to find himself reliving memories of his first love.

‘Karpeh’, Cautious Clay.Karpeh is musician Cautious Clay’s first record with the renowned jazz label Blue Note, once home to Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. It’s clear that he’s embracing the connection. Featuring collaborations with guitarist Julian Lage and Pakistani vocalist Arooj Aftab, the release is a departure from the pop-oriented R&B that he is known for.

‘Witness’, Jamel Brinkley. The National Book Award finalist Jamel Brinkley’s new book is a collection of stories set in New York. It follows the lives of children, grandmothers and even ghosts as they strive to make connections and understand themselves in the process.

The Interrogator / Aaron Taylor Harvey

Home brew

Aaron Taylor Harvey is the creative director of design at Spaces Of and the former co-founder and director of Environments – Airbnb’s in-house architecture and interiors group. Here, he talks about his morning rituals, his love for retro cars and his favourite drinks of choice.

What news source do you wake up to?
I am woken up most mornings by my six-year-old son, who sings top-40 hits in his bedroom. After that, I shuffle through the NPR Morning Edition, Financial Times and The New York Times.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines?
During the week, my kid makes me drip coffee with a Bonavita machine. If he does it every day, he gets a little toy on Friday. On the weekends, I make espresso.

What’s your cultural obsession?
Middle-class cars of the late 20th century. I am intrigued by what they communicate about shifting values, manufacturing methods and design problem-solving.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off?
Wind blowing through the eucalyptus behind our house.

What’s your aperitivo of choice?
A sbagliato.

Image: James Cochrane

Fashion update / Marimekko

Flower power

Finnish label Marimekko has always stood for democratic design – its open-air shows at Helsinki’s Esplanade Park have been some of the city’s most popular summer gatherings for years (writes Natalie Theodosi). This month the brand travelled to Copenhagen to host a similar event at the Designmuseum, celebrating Unikko, one of its most popular patterns, and the forthcoming opening of its new shop in the Danish capital. Behind the company’s growing international momentum is creative director Rebekka Bay. Here, she talks about the brand’s rich heritage and love of workwear.

Why did you choose to celebrate Unikko this year?
It was the first floral print that was added to our collection. Our founder used to say that flowers are more beautiful in nature but our then-head designer, Maija Isola, who was quite rebellious, still proposed the design. Almost 60 years later, we can see that she was right. There are ways to work with florals that are more abstract and conceptual.

What does your creative process look like?
We often tweak the colours of the patterns because our sensibilities are always changing. But we also look back and get inspired by what female artists, who were part of Marimekko’s history, were wearing. It was always something pragmatic and utilitarian. We are leaning into this idea of workwear and practicality.

What are you working on next?
I have always thought that we could go a step further in our collaborations with artists, which we did this year during the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Our ready-to-wear and accessories collections have also been expanding but we have decided not to launch anything else unless we can do it in a fully sustainable way. It’s not worth it anymore.


Shelf obsessed

More auctions should sound like they have borrowed their name from the bibliography of Gustave Flaubert (writes Andrew Mueller). The online auction being held on 21 August by Bruun Rasmussen is entitled “Property of a Danish Gentleman” and it is what it says it is. The precise identity of the chap who collected this stuff is maddeningly obscure but he was clearly a fellow of considerable resources and rarefied tastes.

This is not to say, however, that the lots are necessarily off-puttingly expensive. About €400 should land you a late 18th-century silver sugar bowl, an early 19th-century French bronze vase, a Danish rococo coffee pot set or an impressive set of antique glassware. If your budget can extend to €1,300 or so, your mantlepiece might be adorned by a riotously camp framed portrait of King Frederik V, who spent a goodly proportion of his reign (1746-1766) drunk. For another €3,300 or so, Frederik can overlook a splendid 18th-century Jean-Baptiste Baillon gilt clock (pictured). It is important to note, however, that this is a distinctly pre-modern trove, entirely lacking in stripped pine or monochrome simplicity. There is not a single thing here that will go well with your three-legged Hans Wegner dining chairs, unless by way of ironic juxtaposition.


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