Saturday 26 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 26/8/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Ready, set, go

We’ve got plenty to get you into the late-summer groove, from 17th-century waterfront recommendations in Copenhagen to 1970s-inspired album releases. Plus: a fashion collaboration that’s a wardrobe ‘shoe-in’ and the unsung hero of London’s public transport. And might we remind you that there’s less than a week to go until The Monocle Quality of Life Conference? Andrew Tuck sets the stage.

Image: Mathieu de Muizon

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Talk of the town

It’s the final countdown to The Monocle Quality of Life Conference, which kicks off this Thursday. What? You hadn’t heard? Well, you can still join us in Munich if you move swiftly and head over to to purchase a ticket or simply contact our events chief, Hannah Grundy, at

The ambition, as with all Monocle events, is that delegates and speakers have a seamless time in the city. For that to happen, however, there is a lot of preparation, as well as numerous run-throughs and briefing sessions. That’s why this week I have been putting in calls to all the people who I will get to quiz on stage, making sure that we have everything in place.

First I caught up with Matus Vallo, the mayor of Bratislava, who was at the Venice Architecture Biennale and, as always, firing off ideas at high speed – he’ll be great speaking about how to change a city’s ambitions (and I hope to ask him about his life as the bassist in the band Para too). Then I spoke to Olaide Oboh, executive director at property developer Socius, and was immediately reminded of why we have enticed her to join us – her confident commitment to delivering projects that change people’s lives is so refreshing. And after managing to muddle the dial-in time twice, there was also a moment with Andreas von der Heide, co-founder of the Danish fashion brand Les Deux, who will prove that corporate social responsibility is about more than getting good PR. He’s up for the task.

Just this trio alone has stories and perspectives that would each merit a day of debate. But, apparently, it can’t just be them and me on stage.

To coincide with the launch of the conference, we have been making a show of the Bavarian capital on The Urbanist, our city-focused podcast. One of our interviews was with Benedikt Boucsein, professor of urban design at the Technical University of Munich. He has been collecting data and responses from people who live near to two test projects in the city, including one on Kolumbusstrasse where a 300-metre-long strip of road has been temporarily closed, parking bays have been removed and, flower beds and a giant sandpit installed.

It’s the sort of project that, these days, can divide people and become a battle between motorists and cyclists. After the interview we stayed on the line because this tension around urban change, about the shift to walkable neighbourhoods is fascinating – how did making a safe place for people to cycle become such a flash point, even in places where car ownership might be low? Boucsein had a new take on this. He wondered whether, in this moment of change, we had forgotten to respect a little-debated reason why people like city-centre living: anonymity. So while projects such as this brought children out onto the street to play and made spaces for neighbours to gather outside their front doors, many people didn’t want to be part of something akin to a commune and actually preferred it when they were shielded by a row of cars as they left their homes. I wonder what Carlos Moreno, the celebrated urbanism professor who pioneered the concept of the 15-minute city, would say? Well, we can ask him because he is coming to speak at our conference.

This week, Gallup published a poll in which it asked US respondents to rank America’s largest 16 cities on how safe they believe them to be. And the place that people think is the safest? Dallas. (Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles were viewed as the least safe). This perception of Dallas is underpinned by fact: among America’s 10 biggest cities, it is the only one to record year-on-year declines in every category of violent crime in 2021 and 2022. So what’s going on here? Eric Johnson is a lawyer, a Democrat, a black American and mayor of Dallas. As someone who grew up at a time of grim homicide rates in the city, he was not a supporter of pushes to defund the police in the wake of the George Floyd killing. Johnson has strong views on how to fix America’s cities that confound simplistic categorisation. Want to know more? Oh, he’s also coming to the conference to share his experiences.

In short, Munich is the place to be next week. And, as well as these debates, there will be some smiles, surprises and a lot of joyful hospitality. See you there.

Image: Getty Images

The Look / Biker boots

Start your engines

Biker boots still remind me of high school (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). My best friend, Morgan, had a trusty pair that she wore every day growing up and, to this day, I still associate the shoe’s buckles and harnesses with carpeted hallways, drinking-water fountains and history class. That said, the closer we get to autumn, the clearer it becomes that the trend has firmly made it out of the 2010s and onto the runways and into the hands – and feet – of the likes of Dua Lipa.

They can be minimalist or maximalist; shorter or longer; suede or leather; designer or dupe. And while I wasn’t a fan at first, the more I look at them, the more I like them. There’s something comforting about reviving old trends – besides, what’s so wrong with the 2010s anyway?

Image: Mathieu de Muizon

How we live / Antisocial behaviour

Screen saviour

The name of Razvan Lazar is somehow not widely known to Londoners and this is a monstrous injustice (writes Andrew Mueller). Lazar is a prince among that cohort of little-heralded public servants who, by going that small way above and beyond the call of their duty, may significantly contribute to the well-being of the citizenry at large. Earlier this summer, Lazar, an employee of Transport for London, accosted an antisocial idiot who was berating commuters with music via a Bluetooth speaker. Lazar could have let this pass but chose heroically not to. He informed the miscreant that he was in breach of a bylaw that forbids the playing or performance of music on the Tube, except by licensed buskers, and took the matter to Ealing Magistrates’ Court, where the judge issued a fine totalling £306 (€358).

Any reader who has used public transport anywhere in the world will likely have been enraged by the behaviour of those heedless morons who inflict audio on their fellow passengers – and by the reluctance of authorities to act against them (the wistful thought occurs that a campaign of exemplary tasering by specialist constables might have an uplifting effect but fines are a solid start). Confronting – and thereby containing – antisocial behaviour such as the blasting of unsolicited audio is a responsibility too often neglected by civic authorities. Though each such transgression is individually petty, they are cumulatively debilitating. Lazar’s employers should rename a station after him, possibly an entire Tube line.

Image: Alamy

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Beneath the spires

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,

My spouse and I are about to make our first trip to Copenhagen, where we’ll be staying for five days. What are your recommendations?

Josh Graday,

Dear Josh,

If you’re already in Copenhagen, you’re in luck. Chart art fair takes over galleries and studios across the city until Sunday 27 August, with exhibitions, discussions, lectures and other events. It’s an excellent place to spot emerging Nordic talent and perhaps pick up an artwork or two. Head to the epicentre of the action, Charlottenborg Palace.

Charlottenborg is within easy walking distance of a major attraction that you should visit on a first trip to the Danish capital: Nyhavn, the much-photographed 17th-century waterfront and canal. Bypass the district’s overpriced cafés and restaurants, however, and instead sit down for a classic smørrebrød lunch at the nearby Restaurant Sankt Annae. Then swing by the Amalienborg and Rosenborg palaces, and Strøget, the main pedestrian shopping area. At the edge of Strøget are the city hall and Tivoli Gardens, the historic pleasure park, which is best visited after dark. If you wish to explore the city in the opposite direction from Charlottenborg, hop across the harbour to Christianshavn (pictured), the pretty canal quarter, home to Christiania, the famous hippy enclave.

For independent shops, your best options are Vesterbro (primarily its main drag, Istedgade) and Nørrebro. In the latter, amble down Jaegersborggade, Elmegade, Ravnsborggade and Ryesgade for great coffee, secondhand shops, bars and restaurants, such as 20a and Kala. In terms of hospitality, the Guldsmeden chain is a safe bet, with well-located hotels that are full of charm.

CULTURE CUTS / Read, Watch, Listen

In the groove

‘Tom Lake’, Ann Patchett. Three daughters take a trip back to their family home in northern Michigan, where they learn about their mother’s past life. What follows is a meditation on love, marriage and family.

‘Theater Camp’, Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman. The duo’s charming mockumentary follows a group of jazz-loving theatre kids in upstate New York.

‘Jaguar II’, Victoria Monét. The follow-up to Monét’s critically acclaimed first record is set to include a collaboration with Earth, Wind and Fire. Expect 1970s grooves, carefree lyrics and plenty of nostalgia.

Image: Lengua

Fashion update / CHURCH’S x MIU MIU

No mean feet

Miu Miu and Church’s, two brands under the Prada group, have joined forces on a new shoe collaboration. Miu Miu has updated Church’s signature lace-up brogues and loafers with subtle tweaks – a testament to creative director Miuccia Prada’s flair for both celebrating and subverting classic design (writes Natalie Theodosi). Sportier rubber soles have replaced traditional leather ones, their silhouettes have been redesigned to be a little wider and the Miu Miu boldface logo has been embossed on the sides of the shoes. The unisex styles, launching next week, come in glossed leather and shades of black and tobacco, to suit any fall wardrobe.

The brand also announced a different type of tie-in with Croatian writer and director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, who will produce the short film Stane for Miu Miu’s ongoing “Women’s Tales” series, which makes its debut at the Venice Film Festival this September. A busy season for Prada’s little sister – now all grown up and carving a path of its own.

Image: Ebru Yildiz

The Interrogator / MARGARET GLASPY

For the record

Margaret Glaspy is a New York-based pop-rock singer and songwriter. Here, she talks about her coffee rituals, her latest album, Echo the Diamond, and her favourite bookshops.

A few words about your latest project?
The process of making Echo the Diamond has reminded me why music is such a magical act. The record, which was made in New York, brought about total catharsis and musical freedom. I also got to work with some of my dearest friends.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines?
Coffee but I don’t drink a lot of it. I have half a cup of pour-over every morning. When I’m feeling saucy, I make a café con miel [Spanish coffee with honey].

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
I love listening to the radio station WFMU on the weekends. It helps me to discover so many amazing artists.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
I sometimes come up with new song ideas. It just happens without too much thought.

Magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?
I read Trail Runner, Vintage Camper Trailers (yes that’s real), back issues of Black+White Photography and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Favourite bookshop?
Montclair Book Center in New Jersey and The Strand in New York. You can get lost in both.

Is that a podcast in your ear?
Yes. I listen to Women of Distance [a running podcast], Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s podcast Wiser Than Me and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend is wonderful and hilarious.

What’s the best thing that you have watched on TV recently?
My husband and I love rewatching episodes of Veep. It never gets old and the writing is quick and hilarious.

And what’s your movie genre of choice?
I’m a documentary person. I will stay up all night watching documentaries and my husband will be asleep in two minutes.

Going anywhere nice this year?
I’m going on tour. I will be in the UK very soon and I’m particularly looking forward to headlining at Omeara in London on 20 September.

Image: Roseberys

What am I bid? / Prints & Multiples, Roseberys London

Top of the pops

It is rare that you can attend an auction of works by household names and reasonably hope to spend less than four figures or even three. But that is precisely what you can do at the pop-art-themed Prints & Multiples auction at Roseberys London on Tuesday 5 September. The big-ticket items won’t go cheap – a signed, limited-edition print of Andy Warhol’s soup can is expected to go for up to €45,000, while a couple of signed works by Banksy and a Gerhard Richter are likely to fetch similar sums.

The other end of the scale, however, offers a few lots that seem such bargains as to be worth speculating on, whatever your regard for the artists in question – a signed limited edition Jake & Dinos Chapman smiley-face print, on which the bidding will start at €80 or a Grayson Perry plate, which starts at €140.

Even among the Warholiana, there are some relative bargains, such as the copy of the artist’s memoir The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, signed and inscribed with a hand-drawn soup can (€3,500 or so, and would make an excellent gift for anyone called, as the dedicatee was, John Catto). In May 2022, Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn became the most expensive work of 20th-century art, fetching $195m (€180m). Even the cheaper works should hold value longer than their creator’s well-known 15 minutes of fame.


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