Today’s New York Times “Style” section punching bag, were it a real punching bag, would be the sort made from aged Italian leather and stuffed with sand from the “beaches of Cannes.” That is to say, it’s about Tyler Brûlé, the founder of the magazines Wallpaper and Monocle, a publication that currently costs $130 for a year’s subscription despite including just ten $10 issues. “More than a throwaway periodical, Monocle is a status symbol, a prop poking out of a Jack Spade carry-on, announcing to the saps in the back of the plane that you’re a member of the international aesthete class,” the Times reports with a straight face. And so, obviously, the man behind it is smart, successful, and pleased with himself.
Brûlé has been profiled before, in this very magazine, which more than a year ago called him “the gold standard of what is currently considered modern ‘good taste,’ a Martha Stewart for the global elite (like Stewart, he inspires acolytes and parodists).” Later, one blogger asked, “Is style guru Tyler Brûlé the world’s most annoying man?” and claimed it’s impossible “to get through one of his newspaper columns without being made to feel physically ill at the level of name-dropping he manages.”
And yet Brûlé, who gets street cred for having been shot twice in Afghanistan, continues to proudly say things like, “In public circumstances where you have to choose a seat, you can look at a person’s shoes, you can look at their luggage, and oftentimes, it’s interesting to see what they’re reading as well. ‘Do I want to be near that person or not?’” We should Occupy Tyler Brûlé, basically. Or at least the Midori House (“the Japanese-inflected name he conferred on the modernist brick building in the Marylebone neighborhood of London that is the headquarters of Monocle“), where his employees are forced to act in his mold:
Staff members do not drape coats haphazardly from the backs of chairs, but hang them in orderly fashion in a nearby closet. They do not eat at their desks, sprinkling keyboards with crumbs, but dine in groups in the office’s sleek canteen.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to scrub the Cheeto stains from my keyboard.