Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tyler Brûlé’s Monocle Magazine

When are people going to stop predicting the death of print magazines and get inspired by their transformation? Sure we’ve recently seen a bunch of low-brow, celebrity-driven stuff hit the market, but it’s time to celebrate Tyler Brûlé again. The man who made great design accessible through Wallpaper* has come up with Monocle. He describes this new magazine as “a briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design”. If that sounds too much like The Economist for you, relax. The Economist doesn’t look or feel like Tyler’s new baby which kicked off in March. I have read the first two issues and they are jammed with words and images, opinions and facts. Politics, economics, design, architecture, music, film, fashion. A tightly curated slice of the world at your fingertips.

Monocle flatters us with the same illusion as Wallpaper* - that we are all global citizens ready to dash off to San’aa or Seoul at a moment’s notice. I’ve been to both places and I would never want to lose the physical sensation of difference you get from other local communities that a magazine can never capture. My only quibble so far? The covers. They feel a little self-conscious. Determined not to attract or entice us to reach out and touch although they put everything into attracting us through ideas with personality and attitude. Monocle is showing a welcome taste that I share wholeheartedly for quirky lists. One I noted in the first issue came from Barter Books in Northumberland. Who would know better than ‘The British Library of secondhand bookshops’ the books that always sell?

American readers might find a couple of oddities in there that are worth chasing up.