Friday, January 16, 2009

Cool with a Conscience

It is rather refreshing to be proven wrong at times. I had seen Tyler Brûlé´s Monocle advertised for months on shop windows of every respectable news store. I kept bumping into his interviews in everything from Kauppalehti to Fantastic Man where he was branded as the definition of cool. I read his Fast Lane columns regularly from Financial Times, which I usually found kind of light on content. I mean two consecutive columns on the perfect men´s bag for a weekend trip maybe explains what I mean.

I always found Wallpaper extremely snobbish and pretentious so the expectations were not high when I purchased both Monocle and Intelligent Life yesterday from Stockmann. Intelligent life unfortunately proved me right - I glanced the magazine through and found very little worth reading. It somehow reminded me of Finnish Gloria women´s magazine´s failed attempt to make a men´s lifestyle publication relying on the holy union of cigars and sports cars.

Monocle, however, I found myself reading from cover to cover. Of course it is filled with luxury product ads but you kind of know that already when you pay 12 euros for a magazine. And then again, luxury product ads never weakened the content of Vanity Fair. But I was fascinated by Monocle mainly because:

- it promotes good ideas and people behind them (like Italy´s minister of public administration suggesting an Erasmus programme for civil servants in order for them to think outside the box or a coffee shop owner in Portland showing his customers where the coffee beans come from and bringing producers over to the US to see the other end of the service chain)
- it addresses sustainability as the thing to do, not a phenomenon we need to react to
- its graphic design is amazingly fresh and playful
- it uses a lot of illustrations
- it is strongly global with a broad correspondents´ network and not a Western publication with "voices from the rest of the world"
- it shows me a lot of Japan, a society that I find superinteresting
- it talks about ethics, local produce, making things well
- it dares to feature technological breakthroughs that will actually make our life better
- it features well-made, beautiful products that I actually would like to buy

I am hooked. Some might say that this post should have been written like 18 months ago but that is exactly the Wallpaper attitude I detest. Well done, Mr Brûlé.

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