Creative mind: behind the magazine Monocle and the design agency Winkreative Lives in: London, South Tyrol, Switzerland, Japan Trend guru: is not what he likes to be called
Which hotel did you wake up in today? Today? I woke up at the Park Hyatt Vienna. You’re always on the move. How many nights do you sleep in your own bed, how many in hotels? It depends how you define “own bed”! I live in a couple of places, but let’s say London. I’m in London maybe 100 nights a year. Now I’m also living in a little bit of South Tyrol, a bit of Switzerland. I’m in Japan a lot, but that’s not my own bed – it’s a regular bed, but it’s a hotel bed, also a Park Hyatt. How important is travelling – in general and for you? I think travelling is essential for all of us. I think it’s important to be witness to things, I think it’s important to experience things first-hand. It doesn’t have to be long-haul travel. It means going to the other side of your city; it means getting out of your neighbourhood. What do you think are the cities where the global, big trends are coming from? We’re in an authenticity moment, so I think we’re sitting in a good city for that. I think that Vienna is a good example, and I’m not just saying that because I’m here! We’re here because we like the city, we like what we see, we like what’s going on here. I think Vienna’s in a really interesting position. I think this whole melange of cultures is the positive thing that you get from this. I feel that Vienna’s really starting to come into its own. And partly because it’s not been easy here for a while – I think sometimes that’s a positive. If you’re flourishing economically, then there’s too much money and everyone’s renovating. Suddenly all the personality gets ripped away, everyone gets a face lift, no one has any lines or character in their face any more. I think that Vienna is a city which reveals that times have been tough. What is fascinating for you right now? I’m not so fascinated by trends. I’m quite into Thailand at the moment. The Thais are really doing their own thing. There’s been a lot of young Thais who’ve gone to school in Australia, in the UK, in the US. They’re this new generation, they’re proud of their kingdom, but then they bring interesting international experiences with them. There’s this underlay of Thai gentility, Thai service, all these other things, so it’s kind of a combo that you might find in Europe and Japan today. Thailand is an interesting hybrid – retail, food, culture, contemporary architects who are even publishing. There’s a magazine called “Two” in Thailand and every time it comes into the office I’m so excited, because it’s their own thing. Creative execution then becomes a Thai thing, it’s not trying to be anything else. How did it happen that premium is the new luxury and luxury became a bad word? I think we’re always trying to oversimplify things and put a label on everything. It was used too much. Do you think people are ready to pay more for good products? I’m always astounded that it’s always the last part of this whole muggles’ eco, green, PC discussion that everyone has. We’re so concerned about how happy the cow was, whether the goat had a good day. Let’s trace this wool from the sheep all the way to a merino top. But look at a person on the assembly line. We never trace them. I don’t have a QR code to tell me whether they’re happy around their dining table with their family. That’s the bit that’s left out.