I want to be like Tyler Brûlé in three years

(Photo: Roger Deckker)

Editor, taste-maker, entrepreneur, and mini media mogul. Yes, that’s who I want to be in three years.

Tyler Brûlé is the man who created Wallpaper magazine and he is the founder for Monocle, a ten-times-a-year print journal published in the UK that touches on global affairs, business, culture & design and is the epitome of discerning taste.

“I guess what unifies things for me is a passion for quality,” Brûlé says. “And that has to strike both high and low. I’m on a campaign against cheap veneers and varnishes.”

In many ways, Brûlé, 42, has become 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). Just look at what Wallpaper unleashed.


He started to dream about a new magazine. “It was a reaction to wanting to live every moment,” he says, “to be a little hedonistic.” He took out a small-business loan and launched Wallpaper in 1996. It quickly got bought up by Time Inc. At that point Brûlé disengaged a bit; the corporate life was not his style.

A noncompete clause in his contract meant he couldn’t publish another magazine for two and a half years, so he focused his attention on a branding and advertising agency he’d started called Winkreative, which he still runs and which has counted among its clients companies like Toto, the high-end Japanese toilet manufacturer.

Brûlé also lived out his noncompete by going back to a series of binders he’d filled, over the past twenty years, with his favorite clippings from all sorts of magazines: a column by the Village Voice’s Michael Musto here, a shoot from German Vogue there. One day, toward the end of his noncompete, a Spanish branding client asked him why he had so many empty desks, and he explained that he was planning to launch a magazine when he was again able. The client, the matriarch of a wealthy family, offered to invest, but only if the other investors were in similar situations. And so Brûlé assembled a group of five family foundations, each from a different country, to finance the project—in combination with the income generated by Monocle shops selling the harder-to-find items from the pages of the magazine (ecofriendly Lebanese stationery, a perfect Korean tote bag, a limited-edition Finnish milking stool). In addition to the store here, there are outposts in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hong Kong (“in Bo Fung Mansion! How great is that?”), and they also sell such things as Monocle-branded bags from Porter. Eventually, he’d like to have shops all over the world, with foreign bureaus in the back.

Yes, that’s where I want to be – staying in designer boutique hotels, drinking posh bottled water, jet-setting from Rio to Seoul, among other cities, on business. In my mini media empire, I will have a print magazine, radio show, retail outlets and eventually, a TV programme.

First, I shall start by wearing suits from now on.

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