Summer 2007

Monocle

Brendan Dawes
Anne Burdick
John O’Reilly
Overview / website design

‘From kings to cupcakes’

The site launched simultaneously with the new monthly magazine (see pp.46-47) in March 2007, a ‘media brand’ aiming to deliver ‘the most original coverage in global affairs, business, culture and design’. Web and broadcast director: Dan Hill. Creative director: Richard Spencer Powell

John O’Reilly: International man of mystery Tyler Brûlé returns with Monocle, a magazine ‘as much aimed at the Spanish banker living in London, as the Finnish architect in Zurich, the Canadian lawyer in Hong Kong, or the Brazilian gallerist in Tokyo’. Jeepers! What appears initially as a catholic list can be contained in the contacts book of a Marylebone PR. But none of that matters. What makes Monocle matter, like Wallpaper* before it, is that it is the product of one man’s imagination, and its eccentricity gives it a shot at success. Take the white type on black background. Or the crisp film interviews with Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, and the Austrian architect Andrea Lenardin Madden, whose design for Sprinkles Cupcakes shops has had an impact on the look of the cakes themselves. From kings to cupcakes is a genial content spread, but the design is more forbidding in its horizontal logic: Monocle wants you to fly, and visual anchors weigh you down.

Adrian Shaughnessy: If the aim of 21st-century publishing is summed up in the dreary phrase ‘cross platform’, then Monocle hits the target. But the magazine is eclipsed by the website, which is a triumph of confident and unclichéd design. It boasts broadcast quality video and audio, and functions as a genuine expansion of the magazine and not the usual online dumping ground.

Brendan Dawes: This site relies too heavily on the design of the print magazine – it looks like a straight export from Quark or InDesign files slapped on the Web.

Erik Spiekermann: The magazine has a clever mix of Wallpaper*-style gossip and real information. The website is also designed in that space: glossy images (yes, that is possible on the Web!) and snippets of information that may have some value for some people. Not

hardcore enough for me; I either want real information or real gossip.

Still, while I cannot stand Brûlé’s poncey first-class pretensions, this is a clever Web equivalent of a magazine I haven’t quite made up my mind about.

Anne Burdick: At the risk of sounding like an elitist, I find it immensely satisfying and refreshing to encounter a clear and intelligent editorial point of view online.

Monocle’s consistent quality runs throughout the design, the reporting, and the use of media. Whether or not the ‘international jet set’ mentality suits your tastes, it is a well thought-out experiment in the relationship between print and Web, a kind of TV-print hybrid with text and videos perfectly suited in size and substance to Web viewing and reading.

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