Monocle #146

Issue 146: September 2021

At the front

  • Editor’s letter: The smartest media brands are still investing, evolving – and flourishing, says Andrew Tuck.
  • The opener: Huge flags and enormous skyscrapers, furry babies and political bedding – we round up some global goings-on.
  • Group therapy: The fanatical followers of Hong Kong boy band Mirror reflect the troubled city’s yearning for some homegrown positivity and pride.
  • Jeff Wall: The Canadian artist’s near-documentary photographs present worlds we don’t quite live in. He considers them an antidote to today’s proliferation of images.
  • My cabinet: As members of one of Denmark’s largest housing co-operatives, the occupants of one cobbled Copenhagen thoroughfare are a community in control. We meet the neighbours in Nørrebro.


  • Prized fighter: Agile and intuitive, Saab’s new Gripen E jet is set to bolster Sweden’s defence capabilities and – if the buyers meet strict criteria – its coffers too.
  • People’s palaces: Vienna’s ‘Gemeindebau’ apartment blocks were built out of necessity but an emphasis on social cohesion and affordability means that they might now be the world’s best public housing.
  • Attaché cases: Whether tasked with Brand Ethiopia awareness in Brazil or South Korean commerce in the UK, there are unsung drivers of diplomacy. We meet them.
  • After Angela: When Chancellor Merkel steps down at the end of September, whoever takes her place will find that there’s no clear roadmap. We talk to the key parties about Germany’s future on the world stage.
  • Politics Briefing: Latin America’s “Pink Tide”, Canada’s only woman premier and human rights in Poland.
  • Diplomacy Briefing: China’s wolf-warrior diplomats, crisis management in Helsinki and a spat in the Middle East.
  • Defence Briefing: Ukraine builds up its naval capabilities with an eye on Russia, and Indonesia’s big purchase.
  • Cities Briefing: The man who could be Lisbon’s next mayor, libraries and explore Hong Kong’s latest park.


  • Pillars of community: As property developers react to changes in how we want to live, many are breaking new ground with multi-use neighbourhood projects. We call in on the current schemes of three imaginative firms.
  • Thirsty work: Carlsberg’s new HQ might not claim to be ‘probably the best in the world’ but we should all toast its aim of encouraging interaction among staff. See you at the bar.
  • Business
  • Make your mark: We’ve had plenty of time to take stock of our lives recently. Maybe you’ve always longed to open a bookshop or thought that your flair for interior design could be put to wider use than your own home. But taking that first step can be daunting. For inspiration, reassurance and invaluable advice from business owners large and small, look no further than this extract from ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’. It’s time to stop dreaming and start doing.


  • Face value: There are few more trusted news sources than the experienced and impartial TV anchor. We tune in to meet three such stars of the screen.
  • The news breakers: Old-school news agencies have found a new purpose and power in a world of misinformation and reporting cutbacks. This is how ‘wires’ have stayed on top.
  • Different tune: The old Soviet Dom Radio building in St Petersburg is creating daring music and art – and refusing to follow the mood music at play in much of Russia today.
  • Jump start: Get in the swing of things with a vivid literary slice of 1960s Harlem, a joyous new album from a Motown icon and a must-see photography fair.


  • Hall orders: Designing a new Grand Hall for the League of Arab States demanded experience, flair and respect for tradition. Enter Lebanese architect Nada Debs.
  • Tools of the trade: Expectations of buildings are constantly changing. So how can developers keep pace? By arming themselves with forward-thinking architects and an open mind. These projects hammer the point home.
  • Hidden gem: The angled roof of this secluded Ligurian residence complements its wild surroundings and offers its owners a quiet coastal escape from the bustle of city life.
  • Design Briefing: From a mirrored installation on a Venetian island to groundbreaking design in a former Swiss factory.
  • The Monocle Shop: There’s still plenty of summer left but you’ll want to be ready for the odd chilly evening or rain shower. We have you covered. Whether it’s a soft moleskin jacket, a bright Parisian silk scarf or the best umbrella in the business, you won’t be caught out by a sudden turn in the weather – but these pieces are light and breezy enough to help you stay comfy in the heat too.


  • Regional ally: Architect David Chipperfield’s relaunch of a long-closed bar in a Galician village cements his commitment to the area. We get an exclusive first look.
  • Food and DrinkFrom a bar in Mexico City to Copenhagen’s new bakeries and food scoops in Seoul and Singapore.
  • RecipesChef Ralph Schelling and recipe writer Aya Nishimura take us from France to South Korea with six exotic dishes, starting with a dessert that’s a surefire crowd-pleaser. Enjoy.


  • Wear it’s at: They might not fit the archetype of the high-end tailor but a new generation of smart young outfitters is now at the cutting edge of bespoke menswear. We get the measure of four such craftsmen in London, Berlin, Hong Kong and Perugia.
  • Straight to the point: United Arrows brings the world’s best fashion to Japan. But now, in a country where physical retail has reigned supreme, the pandemic has given online shopping a sudden boost. We meet the multibrand giant’s new president to find out how he plans to adapt.
  • Fashion Briefing: From the most chic suede looks for autumn to the best shops for upgrading your wardrobe.
  • Seize the day: From Monday morning meetings to wet Wednesday lunches, great nights out on Friday and the great outdoors on Sunday, you can dress sharp and look smart seven days a week.


  • Time to get going: While many were grounded, the travel industry has been gently gearing up. Here are some new developments that you might have missed. We start our tour at a citrus-strewn island hotel in Japan.
  • Room to live: With spacious residences and the feel of a speakeasy, the first US opening from Brazilian hotel group Fasano is aiming to be a home away from home by Central Park for long-term stays. Come on in.
  • Holiday express: For passengers on Japan’s redesigned Saphir Odoriko trains, the vacation begins from the moment that they board, thanks to comfy seating, top-quality food and huge windows to help them enjoy the view.
  • Raising the roof: The secluded Maison Bukana hotel in the Philippines and the bustling La Halle aux Grains restaurant on the upper floor of an old market building in Paris have one thing in common: they are taking their respective fields to new heights.
  • Riverside revelation: A rebuilt clutch of 1930s-style buildings on the Zürichorn river delta in Switzerland now houses a restaurant complex that can turn heads and tantalise taste buds.
  • La vie en rose: Domaine de Primard is a hotel inspired by the gardens that surround it, from the soft pastel colours of the guest rooms to the modest menus. What could be more natural?


  • Making the headlines: Bringing together its publishing, television, digital and marketing divisions under one spectacular OMA-designed roof, German media and technology giant Axel Springer is flying the flag for the physical workplace. We drop by its Berlin new build to meet newspaper editors, TV presenters, make-up artists and kitchen staff working towards their deadlines.