Next month The Melangerie will hit its one year anniversary (!), and we’d like to recognize this milestone by also congratulating Monocle Magazine on its 10-year anniversary. Monocle’s influence in the creation and curation of The Melangerie cannot be overstated. With that in mind, we wanted to create a small ode to the magazine and the many ways that it has and continues to inspire us.
In an era of digital content distribution, it’s rare to find a print publication that can a. survive, and b. successfully navigate a balance between analog and digital. Monocle has done both. The magazine was created in 2007 by entrepreneur and Financial Times columnist Tyler Brûlé, whose interests in global affairs, art and design, and business are reflected in Monocle’s content. Some have described the magazine as Vanity Fair--meets--Foreign Policy, but I don’t think that description captures the sheer breadth of topics that Monocle covers. Not to mention its commitment to the design and distribution of its content.
Here are a few of our favorite things about Monocle and how it’s inspired our site:
In making The Melangerie, one of our goals was to keep the content varied, covering everything from electronic dj’s to French films and our cooking experiments. Starting off any business with a broad focus can present a host of challenges. The danger of going too broad is that you fail to capture a loyal niche audience. I know from my startup experiences that success usually hinges on being able to connect with a niche audience. However, we love that Monocle recognizes that its readers have a variety of interests and enough curiosity to want to learn about everything from Australia’s best restaurants to animal architecture. This gave us the confidence and conviction to keep The Melangerie filled with all sorts of stories, no matter how esoteric or main-stream.
Growing up in NYC and going to the United Nations school made us appreciate an international perspective on everything from politics to fashion. It also helps that we grew up with foreign movies, books, and music that inspired us to explore, even from a far, places beyond our home. Much of those influences are in our content, like our stories about Transatlantic coproductions and Thai curry.
One of the best things about Monocle is the global scope of its coverage. It has offices in eight countries and correspondents everywhere imaginable. If you listen to the Monocle 24 Radio, coverage is handed off from one bureau to the next, with music to match.
Monocle does have its favorite places (Europe and Japan are ubiquitous in every issue), but there are few publications where you can read a long-form story on Azerbaijan politics and then go online and watch a film about German Christmas markets.
Sights and Sounds
Monocle does not publicly publish its archive online -- those stories are only available to subscribers. But the website boasts short films, slide shows, and access to its radio and podcasts. The podcasts have become a regular part of my day, and I always put one on while doing work. On days when I have long walks to meetings or wherever, I always check to see if there’s a new episode in the Entrepreneurs or Design sections. So far, The Melangerie has published only written content and photos, but we would like to experiment with other formats this year. VR landscaping, anyone?
Smart Yet Accessible
Monocle’s diverse content is tied together by an emphasis on quality. Regardless of whether a story is about sketching pencils or Angela Merkel, each story is thoughtful, critical, and tinged with wit. If you think this sounds pretentious, it’s not at all. Monocle doesn’t talk down to its readers, and even a story on diplomatic relations in Libya is accessible. We’ve tried to do the same, and give the same thought to light-hearted topics, like cocktails, as we do to our stories about Proust.
The design was one of the first things that drew me to Monocle. A thick magazine with matte pages, fun illustrations, and beautiful photos, how could I not pick it up? The website is also vibrant while easy to navigate. Too often online magazines haphazardly dump content on every inch of available real-estate, and then of course are the terrible ads. Monocle also takes great design offline, and collaborates with fashion and interior design brands to create cool stuff like this.
We would love to see a future Melangerie collaboration with a brand like Sessun.
Niche sites can be great for homing in on content that appeals and speaks directly to you. The problem with this is that many sites that don’t focus on news alone tend to have skewed gender dynamics. I hate that so many female bloggers or women’s magazines only post what is stereotypically women’s content, without considering that women might also enjoy sports, science, and startups. In contrast, Monocle’s content is much more inclusive, and even the fashion stories have both men’s and women’s clothing.
While many of the fashion stories that we’ve done are women-centric, this year we want to include more stories on men’s fashion, especially as inspired by style icons like Alessandro Squarzi.
People often ask us what we would like to see happen with The Melangerie five years from now. I would like it to continue to be a space where Alexandra and I can share things that we love or find interesting with each other, the people close to us, and strangers who share our eclectic eccentricities. But if there was ever an opportunity to grow The Melangerie into anything close to what Monocle has become, we would jump on that in a heartbeat.