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Sunday 6 August 2023

Jun 17, 2023

The faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

1I’ll start this Sunday column with a huge thank you, danke schön and grazie mille to all the Monocle readers who travelled from near, far and very far for our annual summer party at our shop on Dantestrasse in Merano. What started many years ago as a little gathering of a few locals and holidaying regulars with a couple of bottles of Forst on ice has now become a much bigger operation, with our dear Linda overseeing a party that now attracts 200 people from as far away as Dubai, Seattle and Miami. There are many elements that make a good get-together (wines from Kellerei Bozen and focaccia prepared by Martin in the pop-up field kitchen all help) but in the case of our Merano event, it’s the collision of locals who pass by the shop daily, occasional regional visitors who might come down from Brixen or Sterzing and then all the readers from Munich, Berlin, Zürich and Milan who are spending a few days at hotels like the Miramonti, 1447 Reichhalter, Ottmanngut or Bavaria. If Monocle is defined by a specific set of geographies, then Südtirol has had one of the most profound impacts on how we look at everything from entrepreneurship and community to architecture and national identity. The neighbourhoods of Fukuoka, trails above Vals, streets of London’s Marylebone and Kreis 8 in Zürich have all had their influence but there’s something enduring about the region’s hold that informs so many aspects of what makes a story or product right for Monocle. If you pop by our shop in Merano over the coming weeks, you’ll sample a small edit of fine garments from our Bavarian friends at A Kind of Guise and, Linda, given a half chance, will ensure that you try on a loden vest with tiny embroidered flowers from Rier – two labels that have a strong sense of place and commitment to quality that goes beyond logos and luxury trickery. As there’s a good chance that you’re already tweaking your post-summer schedule, here are two more dates for the diary. From 31 August to 2 September, The Monocle Quality of Life Conference will take place in Munich. You can find full details on the event on the Monocle shop. And on 30 September, our Herbstmarkt (autumn market) will bring together the best in design, fashion and food from Mitteleuropa at our HQ in Zürich.

2Coming back to the topic of gathering a good crowd, I need to take you poolside at the Villa Arnica in Lana – just down the road from Merano. This wonderful set-up is part perfectly appointed guest house, part pared-back hotel where everyone seems to know how to behave impeccably. On a sunny Saturday, there are couples scattered about the lawn – many with dogs – and it is almost silent. No one speaks above a whisper, phone calls are taken far away in the driveway and all are happy to enjoy the sun, a Weisswein spritz, a newspaper and a good book. It might sound serene and simple enough but this is a delicate exercise in the power of strong social capital bolstered by a “no children policy”. Kids are most welcome at the hotel’s sister property next door but once inside the grounds of the Villa Arnica, the Germans, Danes, Swiss and Austrians all have an understanding of what makes for a perfect August day under sunny skies – respect for the property and fellow guests, hushed voices and, most importantly, the power of eye contact and saying good morning over breakfast.

3This is going to sound properly weird but here goes. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was more than a little excited about Toyota’s announcement that they would be rolling out their new Land Cruiser and I wanted to be one of the first to purchase one. Shortly after, it was leaked that 1 August was the day of the unveiling and that it would happen at the start of the business day in Tokyo. I’m not sure how it happened but at 02.50 Zürich time, I woke up, wandered into the living room, curled up on the sofa and watched the livestream of the vehicle’s debut.

While I might have been disappointed by the mechanics in my brain that prompted me to wake up, I was not disappointed by the new wheels. Where Land Rover has gone all bubbly and rounded with their Defender, Toyota’s latest take on the smallest of their Land Cruiser family (the model dubbed Prado in many markets) is all sharp right angles and exactly what one of the world’s hardest working vehicles should look like – designed for purpose but also a bit of admiring head turning. Waitlist going to plan, I’m hoping this will be my transport to our event in Merano this time next year. Honk! Honk!

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