Monocle #161

Not the Harvard-produced satire of the ’60s, Monocle reports the parts of international affairs, policy, culture and social trends that are relevant to people also interested in furniture design, exotic travel and development theory. If this is you, then you’ve just found a new reason to get up in the morning. Newly created by the same team originally responsible for Wallpaper*, reading Monocle will make yourself more interesting. A cosmopolitan internationalist look at the world – a magazine for the thinking person.

Monocle’s February issue is all about celebrating places that work, whether that’s a parliament, home or metro carriage. From a floating office to a school teaching children the rules of the road, we profile the locations that look good and work well for those who use them. Plus: Charleston’s hospitality boom and why you should learn Russian.

Issue 161 - March 2023

Is the future electric? That’s the question that Monocle is asking in its future of the car special. Our forward-looking report offers our verdict on self-driving cars, the auto industry’s next moves and the companies in pole position to take advantage. Plus: Australian architecture, Veja’s new office and Spam – no, really.

At the front

  • Editor’s letter: Even the most well-intentioned changes can leave people behind. Electric vehicles, for instance, are essential to secure the future of our planet but not everybody can afford one. Andrew Tuck muses on the need to step back and think about the cost of ‘progress’.
  • The Opener: Mexico’s panda conundrum and Jetstar’s mid-air reversal. Plus: Swedish director Ruben Östlund on his Oscar-nominated film, Triangle of Sadness.
  • In on the act: Our writer reveals his secret life as a stand-in spectator at some of the best shows that theatre has to offer.
  • Moulding minds: A workshop in Florence reveals the mysteries of classical sculpture. Our correspondent gets hands-on to see it all take shape.
  • Outside, looking in: After 15 years in exile, the award-winning actress and film-maker speaks out about Iran’s ‘corrupt’ government and how she has channelled her emotions into her prescient film, ‘Holy Spider’.
  • Plotting a downfall: High in the Swiss Alps, Fabrice Meyer and his security team trigger minor avalanches to prevent major disasters.

The Agenda: International briefings

  • Jumping ship: Laura Walters on the growing recruitment issues that are leaving New Zealand’s naval fleet high and dry.
  • Affairs: A diplomatic spat in the Gulf and why tinned meat has boosted the reputation of the US.
  • Up in arms: Andrew Mueller surveys the military hardware that will reshape modern warfare in the years to come.
  • Business: Highlights from the Las Vegas electronics fair. Plus: Giselle Makarachvili, CEO of Hmlet.
  • Culture: The Islamic Arts Biennale’s artistic director, a dedicated women’s sports TV network and the orchestra bringing harmony to Mosul.
  • Urbanism: Sustainable materials, Hollywood campuses and posthumous acclaim for Portuguese designer Daciano da Costa.


  • Is the future electric?: We all know the promise: a green driving future thanks to electric vehicles. But there are some bumps in the road and, beyond compact, wealthy cities, is the world really ready? We hit the road to find out.
  • Dividing lines: The political will to reunite Cyprus has vanished. That’s why the isolated Turks are hoping for international recognition and building for tourists. Will they ever come?


  • Ground rules: Famed for its wine and food production, this idyllic New Zealand outpost has quietly become a fertile agritech hub.
  • A common-sense manifesto: After the upheavals of the past few years, the world of business is in urgent need of a change in culture. Here are some tips to nudge it in the right direction.


  • Show and tell: The launch of Art SG has put Singapore firmly on the map for galleries and collectors alike. Is the city-state Southeast Asia’s new art hub?
  • Do cultural boycotts work?: In the midst of occupation, is it ever effective to ban a nation’s ballet, strike its artistic output from an institution’s syllabi or prevent musicians from playing on its soil? As Russia’s brutal war continues, our panel considers the efficacy of cultural boycotts.
  • Dress for success: Bringing stories to life in ultra-high-resolution film requires companies that care about the details – and when it comes to the outfits that appear on screen, Peris Costumes is the sartorial star of the show.
  • Hit squad: From a magical-realist tale of life in a South Korean village to the latest beats to get the dance floor jumping, we survey this month’s cultural highlights.
  • Choice cuts: What’s on the cultural agenda for the months ahead? Ten in-the-know critics reveal the films, television shows, music, exhibitions, dance events and theatre offerings that should be on your radar.


  • Wizard of Aus: Iwan Iwanoff’s architecture, once out of place and ahead of its time, has earned a new legion of 21st-century admirers.
  • Out of the past: For more than 150 years, Danish furniture brand Fritz Hansen has fostered the nation’s gifted designers. Now it is finally building an archive to celebrate its history.


  • Back to my place: European fabric factories are suddenly luxury brands in themselves – all thanks to a reshoring trend that’s continuing to boom.
  • True romance: Valentino’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, is targeting hearts, not minds – and bringing the Italian luxury house into the future by drawing on its past.
  • What to wear: ‘Always dress up a little more than you have to.’ That was the message that Monocle heard at Florence’s menswear trade show. To achieve this yourself, start with your feet – and slip into the smart shoes that are just as comfortable as trainers.
  • Up to speed: Push your wardrobe to the limit this spring with earthy colours and easy fits to stay comfy come rain or shine.


  • Stepping up: When booming shoe brand Veja needed a bigger HQ, it set out to make a space that was good for both the environment and its staff.
  • Hidden gems: The small Japanese town of Yame, and its surrounding countryside, is pulling in visitors with its new inn and craft heritage.
  • Get your fill: Our pick of the most interesting (not to mention delicious) spots at which to eat and drink, from a new pasta place in Tokyo to a haven for wine lovers in Marrakech. Plus: an intriguing eating-for-two cookbook and three tasty meals to make for yourself from our Swiss chef.
  • For starters: Les Nouvelles Tables du Gourmet is a fresh culinary experience for Paris – an entire floor of the Galeries Lafayette dedicated to chefs rising through their field, with a focus on delicious street food. Mall dining is rarely so tastefully presented... or, well, tasty.
  • Under cover: Our new title, ‘Spain: The Monocle Handbook’ is packed with our editors’ tips and rundown of where to stay, eat and unwind. Plus: we offer expert advice from those in the know and insights on how to put down roots. We share a teaser of what’s inside but for more, you can order your copy today at monocle.com/shop.
  • Table talk: The Spanish food scene has just the right mix of old-world charm and innovation. Here we offer a rundown of culinary institutions and those with the makings of future classics, from a smart bar in Madrid to a laid-back bistro in sunny Seville.
  • Shore thing: To round-off our whistle-stop rundown of our new book, we make for Spain’s sandy outskirts and visit a few of our favourite seaside haunts. Plus: three not-to-be-missed island escapes.
  • Hat’s off to you: A deftly deployed hat can add a sense of occasion and elegance to everyday life – plus some formality, fun and eccentricity too. Styles change but family-owned Lock & Co Hatters has existed since 1676.


  • Cold war modern: With its vast lobbies and unfussy functionality, the concrete-and-glass Deutsche Oper building was considered an audacious statement of democratic ideals when it first opened in 1961 on the western side of the Berlin Wall. Today it remains a monument to the postwar era’s dream of a progressive, culturally rich future.