Saturday 22 June 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 22/6/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Going places

What do the Olympic Games and airlines have in common? And what of Paris’s burgeoning art market: how can the city’s creatives make their mark? Plus: where can you seek sun, sand and sea in Italy? A hint: start by diving headlong into the waters of the Tuscan coast. There’s much to ponder this week, as Andrew Tuck discovers.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

The Opener / Andrew Tuck

In good company

We made a mini magazine this week just for us (sorry). We wanted to have something that tells our story, explores all that we do in the world, puts the spotlight on our amazing team (especially some of the folk who work behind the scenes to keep us on track, on budget and on time) and reveals a little about where we are heading. It seems that everyone in the company now wants to get their hands on it – it’s something that we can give to new recruits, pop into the totes of delegates at the Monocle Quality of Life Conference, share with business partners and the forgetful (me).

It’s a project that we have been meaning to do for a while but, like the architect who never finds the spare time to design a house for themselves, making a magazine about the magazine (and so much more these days) took us a little while to get out the door. I might have been a bit tardy. One of the fun things was creating a timeline of how Monocle has developed since its launch back in 2007 and trying to remember when the various bureaux and shops opened, when books came out, when the very first podcast aired.

On Thursday, Tyler was in town (he’ll also be master of ceremonies today at the Swiss Summer Market being held at Midori House – come along) and a nice dinner was put in the diary at The Arlington in St James’s. It was a foursome – Josh, our editor, also came, as did Rich, our creative director – and we had a prime table in the middle of the glorious theatre of a well-run restaurant.

The owner and ringmaster extraordinaire, Jeremy King, was walking the floor and came by to say hello to our squad. King’s business timeline is far longer than Monocle’s and features some epic twists and turns but all you need to know here is that in 1981 he, along with his business partner Chris Corbin, opened celebrated restaurant Le Caprice. Now he’s back in the very same space, with an interior that appears to be unchanged since then – but now it’s called The Arlington.

Le Caprice was a magical place in its heyday. I first went in the late 1980s and, whenever you edged into your seat, you would spy a celebrity or 10 dining the night away. Tyler had been a very regular visitor and certainly trumped my stories when he mentioned a few of the supermodels he had brought here. Rich too had tales to tell (Josh is annoyingly young and was still on baby food back then). As we said to King, it almost felt like time travel being in this dining room, its walls still adorned with its David Bailey photographs.

It made a perfect setting to talk about the business and think about that Monocle timeline. We were in a place that reminded you of when London was full of numerous great magazine companies (now all seemingly morphed into “content producers”) but also in a place that showed you how to take the best from the past and move forwards – to reinvent, rethink. It was a night that underlined the importance of being present, of being on the magazine equivalent of the restaurant floor every day, of having a team that’s passionate about what comes out of the editorial kitchen (and how it’s served).

It’s interesting times for Monocle as we open our office in Paris, prepare to launch more shops and cafés, create new magazines and events and look at how we tell stories online. We all left the restaurant buoyed by the evening, inspired and ready to add the next memorable dates to the Monocle timeline. The nice wine might have helped too.

Image: Asics

Wardrobe update / Asics x Hay

Step this way

The aesthetic alignment between Scandinavia and Japan is something that the design industry has been endlessly fascinated by (writes Grace Charlton). In 2023, Japanese brand Asics first tapped Danish fashion designer Cecilie Bahnsen for a limited run of trainers, to immensely popular effect – a third round was announced this week. And ever since, the sportswear corporation has continued to find plenty of inspiration in Copenhagen. Last week during the Nordic city’s foremost design fair, 3 Days of Design, Asics unveiled a collaboration with Denmark’s Hay, the company’s first partnership with a furniture and homewares firm. The range will feature a colourful take on the versatile and well-worn (in a good way) Skyhand OG trainer from 1994. The launch took place at Hay House, the brand’s expansive flagship in the centre of the Danish capital, and showcased shoes available in three summer-ready colourways: pink, blue and green, complemented by contrasting accents. The playful palette, chosen by Hay’s co-founder Mette Hay, is reminiscent of Italian gelato scoops.

The shoes are made from a suede and leather, with comfortable soles and subtle branding on the tongue and heel. And for those who are partial to a total look, the collaboration also extends to matching socks and bags. We expect to see these ice-cream hues on people’s feet all summer long, from beach promenades on the Mediterranean to Manhattan’s Central Park. If you prefer autumnal tones, two more versions in lilac and brown are expected to launch later this year. This very pleasing encounter effortlessly blends Japanese sportswear expertise with a Danish knack for design and the result is a recipe for sartorial success.;

Culture cuts / Read, watch, listen

Love all

‘Shanghailanders’, Juli Min
South Korean-US writer Juli Min’s debut novel, which came out in May, tells its story in reverse: the narrative begins in 2040 and winds its way back to 2014, tracing the lives of a wealthy globetrotting family in Shanghai. Min’s prose is quick-footed and captivating and the book’s structure of a novel-in-stories makes it a perfect holiday read, with interlocking tales to dip into between trips to the pool.

‘Federer: Twelve Final Days’, Joe Sabia and Asif Kapadia
The much-anticipated documentary covering, as its title suggests, the last 12 days of tennis star Roger Federer’s professional career, is out. UK director Asif Kapadia and US filmmaker Joe Sabia teamed up to create an engrossing portrait of the Swiss tennis icon in the lead-up to his retirement, combining archival footage with interviews and intimate moments as Federer prepares for the final match of his storied career.

‘Willow Tree’, Cehryl
Earlier this month, Cehryl – the stage name of Hong Kong singer-songwriter Cheryl Chow – released Willow Tree, her first record since 2021. It combines her signature blend of R&B and indie pop with experimental synths and understated, evocative lyrics. The record’s easy tempo and atmospheric melodies make for an ideal soundtrack to a long summer drive or a slow evening by the sea.

Image: Mariano Herrera


More is more

If cities were ranked by the quantity of their advertising rather than quality of life, Bangkok would be on the podium, wearing a shirt covered in sponsorship (writes James Chambers). Billboards are everywhere in Thailand’s capital and no location seems to be off-limits. Try to imagine huge banners on the side of New York’s Chrysler Building or carriages on the London Underground packed with so much advertising that the windows are completely obscured. Bangkok’s elevated skytrain stations and platforms cram in advertising everywhere you look. Is this a product of the country’s consumer culture or something else? The fact that public transport is largely privately owned fuels this practice, which is something that extends into the virtual world. When I book a taxi on Grab, Southeast Asia’s equivalent to Uber, the car icon on the app’s road map is towing a bottle of Lancôme perfume towards me – if only the ride itself was as fragrant. Advertising executives must be thrilled by the potential to overlay even more products onto an augmented-reality version of the cityscape.

In advertising, it’s the simplest ideas that deliver the strongest message. Arrivals at Bangkok’s main airport are greeted on the highway by a gigantic blue billboard that just says Bangkok Bank. I have grown quite fond of seeing this sponsored welcome mat, despite holding an account with a rival bank. The continued success of outdoor advertising speaks to Bangkok’s dependence on the car. Time stuck in traffic is spent staring at promotions for plastic surgery and face filler. I assume that these billboards generate plenty of business from drivers unhappy with their reflections in the rearview mirror but they certainly do little to beautify the city. Done right, advertising can be an art but all too often, in Bangkok, it just adds to the everyday clutter. Bangkok’s governor is currently tidying up the city’s notorious overhead electricity wires. While he’s at it, he could also prune a few of the city’s adverts.

Image: Matthieu Croizier

Words with… / Clément Delépine

Setting the scene

Clement Delépine has been the director of Art Basel Paris since 2022. In October the fair will take place at the newly renovated Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées for the first time. Here, he talks to us about why the time is right to invest in the city’s creative infrastructure and how the fair fits into Paris’s art market.

How has the fair evolved since its inaugural event?
In 2022 we only had about six months to organise the programme. It was frantic. The 2023 iteration was the first edition that we had a full calendar year to prepare for. In 2024 our new venue, the Grand Palais, allowed us to add more galleries to the fair; now we have 194 participants. It’s rare to reinvent the programme three years in a row. We were quite experimental with the first two editions and we will continue to incorporate this spirit into the event.

Why is the art market big business in Paris?
Paris was the world’s arts capital in the 20th century but this was lost somewhat to London and New York. Τhat artistic dynamism is returning, partly due to Brexit but also because the local scene is incredibly energetic. From fashion to literature, there are many more creative industries present in Paris today. People who like art also tend to like beautiful furniture and a good meal, so culture here is interlinked. The French art market is ranked fourth globally and half of European transactions take place in the country.

Do you think that the market will continue to grow?
There’s an increasing commitment to the city from international galleries, such as Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner. The infrastructure is also rapidly growing in terms of private foundations, including the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Pinault Collection at the Bourse de Commerce and the Fondation Cartier. We can accuse gallerists of being hopeless romantics but they’re also savvy businesspeople who trust the stability of the French market.

What’s your piece of advice for those hoping to make their mark in Paris?
Today the city is more open and flexible than it once was – and also more welcoming. Be enthusiastic but spend some time understanding the context of Paris because a model that worked elsewhere might not work here. It’s important to go with the city’s flow.

For our full interview with Clément Delépine, pick up a copy of the ‘Monocle Paris Newspaper’.

Image: Getty Images

The Look / Olympic liveries

In plane sight

There is little like the Olympic Games for prompting an unseemly scramble of corporate bandwagon-chasing (writes Andrew Mueller). Every enterprise more substantial than a hot-dog cart seeks to associate itself with athletic excellence and national pride (there is, almost certainly, a hot-dog cart proprietor somewhere presently etching five coloured rings on the side of his barrow).

Airlines are often keen to assert themselves as national representatives, even in non-Olympic years. As Paris 2024 looms, those that have decorated their aircraft fuselages are earning their money. Qantas has been flying Australia’s athletes to the Olympic Games for decades. This year, after what might not have been a long meeting deliberating on the slogan, it painted “Go Australia” in the country’s colours of green and gold on the side of a Boeing 787. Air Canada, which might have a spy at Qantas, has daubed “Go Canada Go” on a Boeing 777. Delta, which will be taking American Olympians to Paris, has smeared “Team USA” along an Airbus A350, over a somewhat fussy red, white and blue motif resembling a headless rocket. Wizz Air has gone with “Team Hungary” in white on pink on an Airbus A321, with a possibly optimistic gold tailfin. In Greece, Olympic Air, as ever, has an unfair head start on everyone.

Air France is not partaking of this whimsy. A shame, as an Airbus in Breton stripes with a decal depicting a string of onions, a beret painted atop the cockpit and an accordion under one wing would have been a splendid homage to the host nation.

The Monocle Concierge / Forte dei Marmi, Italy

Life’s a beach

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: Mariano Herrera
Image: Mariano Herrera
Image: Mariano Herrera

Dear Concierge,

After a lengthy absence of 15 years, we find ourselves returning to the sun-drenched delights of Forte dei Marmi this summer. Time has doubtlessly changed it. Could you recommend a few places to stay, eat and drink? Looking forward to rediscovering the charm of the area through your eyes.

Paul Puerer

Many things can change in 15 years but the beauty of places such as Forte dei Marmi is how little their spirit alters. This seafront Tuscan resort town on the Versilia coast has a charm that’s both manicured and relaxed. Go for a walk along the spacious promenade and you’ll still be greeted by the same bagni signs in all their vintage typographic glory. If you’ve been reading Monocle for a while, you’ll know that we’re partial to Bagno Bruno and its spaghetti alle arselle (spaghetti with small clams). Bagno Piero also deserves an honorary mention, though given it has been open since 1933, it counts as a proper classic.

There are also many long-established luxury hotel options, Augustus being one of them. For something a little more intimate, head to Villa Roma Imperiale, a former home that has been turned into a subtle, cream-coloured property. For a casual lunch of a well-stuffed schiacciata sandwich, try the new outpost of All’Antico Vinaio; the Florence-born mini-chain has created a special recipe with anchovies, fried courgette flowers and ricotta just for this location. Pesce Baracca is another vivacious option that focuses on seafood and operates as a fish market. If you would like something a bit more elaborate but still in a beach setting, it’s worth booking a table at the new Camilla al Forte. In Italy, a quote from Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard often rings very true: “Everything must change for everything to remain the same.” Enjoy exploring the present and diving into the past.

For more sunny stays and fresh ideas, pick up the latest issue of Monocle or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue. Have a great Saturday.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00