Saturday 9 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 9/3/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Sound and vision

We have our eyes on the prize in the lead-up to the Oscars this week, as well as our ears to the ground as we listen out for a stylish new audio collaboration from two luxury brands. Plus: we sample a surprise menu in Oslo and sport Australia’s new Olympic kit. But first, Andrew Tuck throws some shade…

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Chasing shadows

I got home late on Thursday night from Dubai, so I went straight to bed. Over the next eight hours, I stirred numerous times as the dog variously decided to sleep stretched out across my back and homed in on a patch of vacant pillow – her whiskers tickling my nose – before burrowing under the duvet. When it was time for me to get up to write this column, she curled up where my head had been to make the most of the warmth that I had generated – no intention of joining me downstairs. It’s good getting home.

On the flight to and from Dubai, I sat near the same two men – who clearly worked for the same company – travelling to the emirate for meetings. I also saw them in the lounge on both legs of the journey. You have never seen two people make more of a work trip. They ate everything that was offered and, without getting hammered, worked their way through the drinks menu. I overheard them on the plane choosing to watch the same movie. I wondered whether they were having more fun than if they had been going away with their families. The only downside was that I got to overhear everything about their lives – partners included. Work buddies.

The Monocle squad for Dubai – Tom and Sam from radio, Luke from our commercial team – all travelled on different flights, so there were no shared movie moments. We were in the emirate to attend the Sustainable Cities in Action Forum, where I was moderating some panels and Monocle Radio was recording a series of shows (The Urbanist is already available, while two special episodes of The Briefing will run next week). Organised by Expo City Dubai – host of last year’s Cop28 talks – the attendees were a mix of local players but also leaders, campaigners and dynamic voices from across Africa and South Asia – the so-called Global South. Why did these people get on planes and come with colleagues to meet in person? Yes, to share best practices and for a dose of thought leadership. But the UAE is also where you can tap into funding and, increasingly, know-how about delivering change.

We did manage a team moment. We ventured out one evening on the Dubai Metro to a fish restaurant called Flooka that’s by the ocean. We even managed a nightcap at a nearby bar. As the metro journeyed into the city, it increasingly filled up with people heading home; people from all over the world. But everyone seemed to be polite and tolerant, moving to make space for the next influx of commuters. Dubai’s security – invisible, mind – has been key to its success and there seemed little risk of a pickpocket working the carriages or some intoxicated crazy harassing you. A friend in Dubai, as an aside, told us that when she goes to a mall she never even thinks about locking her car and often just leaves the keys in the ignition. It’s something that I often think about. What are we willing to give up to feel safe? How much of our privacy would we forgo for knowing that nothing bad is going to happen?

Back to the forum. We heard about pioneering building codes and bio-construction materials (check out Desert Board, the world’s first wooden board made from date-palm waste) but often it was the simplest needs that stayed with us. One word that came up frequently was “shade”. Speakers from India, Bangladesh and Kenya eloquently described how the ability to shelter from the sun’s glare could transform the lives of women travelling to work and children going to school. How sometimes it could even be the difference between life and death in a heatwave. Expo City Dubai is still on a journey to becoming a fully fledged metropolis – the residential elements are being added now – but one thing that it has done well from the outset is placing buildings so that they cast shadows and using trees and planting to provide shade. These simple measures can lower the temperature at Expo City by as much as 4C. Nature is allowed to come to the rescue.

And, finally, some breaking news. Perhaps Macy missed me after all. She appeared a few minutes ago and made it clear that she would like to nap on my lap. Laptop on the lapdog.

Image: Getty Images

The Look / Australia’s Parisian dressage

Portrait of a nation

The Olympic Games is arguably Earth’s most-watched fashion parade (writes Andrew Mueller). The outfits worn by the athletes at the opening ceremony, as well as the uniforms on the track and field, are all tremendous opportunities for national branding. Australia, which unveiled its Paris 2024 Olympic kits this week, has also considered one often overlooked criteria: that the outfits should be something that the athletes want to wear. Australia’s 2024 wardrobe, produced by Japanese manufacturer Asics, includes a svelte dress for female athletes to wear around the Olympic Village. Charlotte Caslick (pictured), who will once again be representing Australia in the Rugby Sevens, welcomed the new wardrobe. “Paris is the fashion capital of the world and we get to wear cute dresses,” she said, recalling the ill-fitting “boys’ uniform” of previous games.

The other significant aspect of the 2024 kits is the prominent incorporation of Indigenous Australian motifs. Australia’s traditional green-and-gold colours have been absorbed into designs by Indigenous artists Paul Fleming – a Yuggera man who boxed for Australia in Beijing in 2008 and designed Team Australia’s towels for Tokyo in 2021 – and David Bosun, a painter and linocut maker from the Torres Strait Islands. Their recognition is overdue. Any list of Australia’s greatest athletes is disproportionately populated by Indigenous Australians. In one poll earlier this year, the gold medal of one Indigenous Australian at the 2000 Sydney Olympics – Cathy Freeman, who carried an anxious nation’s hopes 400 metres in 49.11 glorious seconds – was reckoned the greatest sporting moment in Australian history.

Culture cuts / Most-anticipated book releases


‘End of Story’, AJ Finn. The bestselling author of The Woman in the Window returns with another pacy whodunnit. It follows crime fiction aficionado Nicky Hunter, whose life is turned upside down when he receives a message from an author, Sebastian Trapp, that reads: “I’ll be dead in three months. Come tell my story.” This elegant thriller explores the secrets hidden among us and is especially intriguing given that its author was accused of lying about his own life in spectacular fashion, following the success of his first novel.
Release date: Out now.

‘Bright Objects’, Ruby Todd. Ruby Todd’s new book tells the story of a widow grappling with the death of her husband after a hit-and-run. Just when she begins to lose hope that she will find out who did it, a rare comet is spotted over the town, sending her into the orbit of local mystic Joseph Evans. The fortune teller believes that the meteorological event carries a divine message, as well as clues that point to her husband’s killer.
Release date: 30 April 2024

‘Until August’, Gabriel García Márquez. Shortly before he died in 2014, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, who was living with dementia, decided that his last novel shouldn’t be published. Now, a decade later, his sons have chosen to share it with the world. Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean, Until August follows a middle-aged woman who, once a year, on the anniversary of her mother’s death, visits the island where she’s buried and leans into desire as well as fear.
Release date: 12 March 2024

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

How we live / FRENCH CO-OPS

Cubbyhole community

The French are known to care about what they eat – particularly where it is from and how it is produced – so it is no wonder that many are embracing the idea of food co-ops (writes Mary Fitzgerald). What is rather surprising, however, is that this trend originated in the US. Inspired by the decades-old Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn, similar shops have opened in Paris, Marseille, Lyon and other French cities in recent years. Members join by buying shares, which cost about €100, and pledge to work a three-hour shift every four weeks to earn the right to shop. The focus is on locally sourced, organic and sustainable products. My food co-op in Marseille is named Super Cafoutch (cafoutch is local slang for a cubbyhole, though the co-op is the size of a small supermarket) and just marked its first anniversary with a turnover of €1.4m.

Given the fixed 20 per cent margin on all products, grocery shopping here costs much less than at the supermarket chains. But it is not just about lower prices. The founders of Super Cafoutch want to build a community too. They organise regular apéro gatherings and encourage members to volunteer for various initiatives. The concept has proved so appealing that Super Cafoutch’s membership currently stands at more than 1,900 co-opérateurs and counting. We are an eclectic bunch, spanning a wide range of ages, nationalities and professions. I usually do the early-morning shift and have forged several friendships while taking deliveries and stocking the fruit and vegetable section. The French might be wary of importing US habits – but what’s not to like about supporting local producers and fostering a sense of community?

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Nordic escapism

The Monocle Concierge is our purveyor of top tips and delectable recommendations for your next trip. If you’re planning to go somewhere nice and would like some advice, click here. We will answer one question a week.

Image: Thomas Ekström

Dear Concierge,

I will be travelling with my wife and four-year-old son to Norway later this year. We will be in Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø and Trondheim. I am looking for some recommendations.


Mark Kelley

Dear Mark,

While you don’t specify how long you will be in Norway, travelling to four cities with a four-year-old might prove a bit taxing. Fear not, however, as all four offer great experiences.

Head to Oslo’s newest neighbourhood, Bjørvika, where you’ll find the Munch Museum, Opera House and several city beaches. Look for the small but exquisite Varemottaket restaurant run by some of the capital’s best chefs and treat yourselves to its seasonal, surprise menu.

In Bergen, take a guided tour around Bryggen, the city’s Unesco World Heritage Centre-listed historic harbour district, before trying some of the local fish dishes at Bryggeloftet & Stuene with its distinctive interior dating back to 1910. The restaurant’s famous fish soup is particularly popular with the locals.

When in Trondheim, take a boat to Munkholmen – a tiny island that has served as a monastery, prison and fortress. Its fascinating history is a delight for big and small alike. Then explore the Nidaros Cathedral, where Norwegian kings and queens are consecrated. Built between 1070 and 1300, it’s the northernmost gothic cathedral in the world.

And in Tromsø, catch the Fjellheisen gondola up to Storsteinen, which sits 421 metres above sea level, for one of the most spectacular views in Norway. For dinner you can’t go wrong with Maskinverkstedet, a converted fishing-boat repair hall that serves top-quality Arctic dishes such as king crab, reindeer and freshly caught cod.

Image: Thomas Ekström
Image: Thomas Ekström
Image: Getty Images

Words with / Bill Kramer

Trophy life

The 96th Academy Awards ceremony takes place tomorrow at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. For Bill Kramer, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, this year’s ceremony is a chance to restore the Oscars’ gleam following headline-grabbing moments of unscripted disruption in recent years. Here, Kramer looks ahead to tomorrow’s ceremony, assesses why the Oscars’ international television audiences are growing more quickly than those at home and explains why the famous golden statuette’s soft power is as potent as ever.

How does the final stretch feel ahead of tomorrow’s ceremony?
It has been an incredible year for cinema. We have seen amazing work across disciplines: big box-office films such as Barbie and Oppenheimer, intimate movies such as Past Lives and great international cinema, including Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest. The breadth and depth of what cinema does best – great storytelling – has been incredible this year and our show tomorrow is going to reflect that. It’s thrilling for everyone involved.

You have made some changes to the ceremony this year – why is that?
Well, for one, we’re starting an hour earlier to inch a little closer to a time that works for more people around the world. The ceremony is broadcast in more than 200 territories, so moving the show forward by an hour is an acknowledgment of the Academy Awards’ international reach.

Your path to becoming CEO seems somewhat unconventional – you’re an urban planner by training. Has that informed your role at the Academy in any way?
I have always been interested in urban planning, the arts and civic life. I began as an analyst at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, overseeing the renovation of subway stations and their public artwork. It taught me how to work with a variety of groups – community organisations, designers, artists, financiers – and how to bring them together to support artists and the art-making community. A direct link to those experiences was my work with [Italian architect] Renzo Piano and city planners to build the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which opened in 2021. We have more than 13 million items in the collection, which makes it the largest museum of film in the world.

Are there plans in place to mitigate some of the more disruptive moments that have taken place at recent Oscars ceremonies?
We only want good, healthy surprises on the night. There’s always a great sense of not knowing who is going to win or how the speeches will unfold. And, of course, you want to see that live – there’s a great joy in that. But I have made it a priority to be prepared for a variety of scenarios. We are ready for the array of things that can happen during a live television show.

How do you see the Academy changing in the years ahead?
The Academy belongs to two worlds – the film community and the non-profit arts-and-culture sector. Both are going through radical business-model shifts right now, so as an organisation we need to evolve too. There is no sense of inertia and we’re constantly working to think about where the Academy is going. At the moment we’re beautifully positioned to move ahead towards our 100th Oscars ceremony in 2028. That will be a big moment for us.

To listen to the full interview with Bill Kramer, tune in to today’s episode of ‘Monocle on Saturday’ on Monocle Radio.

Wardrobe update / CELINE X MASTER & DYNAMIC

Dynamic duos

Fashion brands are now aspiring to connect with customers when they are eating, drinking and listening to music, not just when they are getting dressed (writes Natalie Theodosi). The result is a host of cross-sector collaborations, from Valextra’s tie-in with Bar Basso’s baristas to Bottega Veneta’s partnership with Korean kite artisans.

Headphones were regularly spotted in brands’ showrooms this season, displayed next to hats or footwear. We have our eye on a pair by Celine in tan leather or black calfskin, made in collaboration with Master & Dynamic.;

For more pristine print, pick up a copy of Monocle’s latest issue. Or subscribe to join the club.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00