Saturday, September 4, 2021 – La Minute Monocle
We often take the same route around Regent’s Park with the dog, stopping first for coffee, occasionally meeting friends. The repetition allows you to capture the daily changes of the seasons without having to leave the city to get to a truly rural location. Today, the vast horse chestnut tree under which we walk is dotted with spiky cannonballs and its leaves are turning brown. It’s clear that fall awaits behind the scenes.
London has had a disappointing summer, so to think it’s almost over is, well, boring. Unlike last year, during the first containment when the sun broke, this year we had too many low skies and metallic gray. We turned on the heating in August in our house; I can’t remember doing this. Yesterday as I walked to lunch some people had caved in and had collars turned up on fall coats and even scarves. September.
It wasn’t quite the summer outdoors that had been planned, which wouldn’t have helped restaurants and bars that needed the summer boost to fill their coffers. I also imagine a lot of people who were trying to sound happy about a UK vacation this summer have already made pacts to go to the Mediterranean next year (on Monday we had dinner with friends just back so called “glamping”, which said it was so cold they couldn’t sleep).
However, that feeling that the seasons are changing and that the pandemic is losing control of what we can do seems to have brought about other pleasant changes as well. The people I meet are full of projects, hatched both in cold tents and on sunny loungers. They are motivated for change, ready for a new term.
At Monocle, that moment has meant long days of work on a magazine redesign that will change how it looks, reads and feels. Now there is always a note of caution with these efforts, and you need to make sure that you do not play around with all that is sacred. (Once, while we were working on a newspaper’s relaunch team, we were warned by the editor that under no circumstances could we move the crossword, as it would irritate more people than anyone else. thing and he couldn’t cope with the letters – no pun intended.) So the changes are both significant and subtle. They will allow us to deliver new regulars; consolidate the shift to longer readings; showcase new talents, from fashion stylists to illustrators; and allow our always measured opinions to be sharper on the page. Make sure you signed up for the October issue.
This week, for a short article published in the electronic newsletter The Monocle Minute on Design, I found myself on the phone in Montgomery, Alabama. I wanted to write about a new book, titled Common Origin: New South American Architecture, about a group of architects from the southern states. It’s from Barrett Austin. It appears a moment ago he was working for Monocle, first in our New York office, then as a correspondent in the southern United States. But it had actually been a few years since we last spoke and, in addition to the book, he now has a family and is working on several real estate projects. It was nice to hear his “y’all” strewn lines and to be in touch again with someone who had made a significant contribution to our success. Dinner in London will take place.
When people decide it’s time to leave Monocle, I rarely try to persuade them to stay if their decisions are clearly thought through and, like with Mr. Austin, they obviously have other great adventures ahead of them. You just hope that the paths cross again and that the experiences will be valued and useful; I was happy when Barrett said his years at Monocle had encouraged him to release the book with a series of negotiated deals to bypass traditional slow publishers. Helping the people around you is perhaps the best thing you can get as an editor, manager.
And, again, maybe it’s the leaves that change, the world opening up and new possibilities opening up, but we are experiencing a little changing of the guard at Monocle as new horizons call for it. some: Louis, editor-in-chief of this newsletter, is moving to Mexico; Hester from our book team is on his way to Spain. But I hope we will also write about their books and their triumphs in the future. Others, in turn, made their first days at Monocle.
So while the softening of the sunlight and the darkening of the evenings could spell the end of another summer in London, ultimately I welcome this moment as a time for all of us to plan, to trace and redo.