Monocle Celebrates the Big 10

In the world of magazines, Monocle is a bit of an anomaly. Since its launch in 2006, founder and publisher Tyler Brûlé has firmly pushed back against social media. At the same time, he’s grown the now-iconic brand into a media empire that includes brick and mortar retail and, most recently, a radio station.

“Over those ten years it has focused tightly on print, founder and editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé not only resisting the temptation of digital distraction but actively arguing against iPad apps and social media,” writes Jeremy Leslie in MagCulture. “Instead, the company launched its Monocle24 digital radio station, cleverly investing in a state-of-the-art sound studio rather than throwing money into an ill-fated app.”

“This distinct positioning has been backed up by Brûlé’s support for smaller indie magazines. For all these reasons we are marking the birthday by highlighting Monocle as this week’s Magazine of the Week, just as the magazine itself celebrates with its first significant redesign since launch,” Leslie continues.

“The aim was to offer a significant editorial update without stripping out the original design values,” Brûlé told Leslie, ‘we started out small but as we went through every section we realised it was a much bigger task.”

The result is, as Leslie puts it, a “cunning balance of familiarity and change.” It should resonate well with their existing fan base and updates the look enough to engage the next generation of readers.

“We wanted to tell stories with less images and more words,” says creative director Richard Spencer Powel, noting that “it’s always tempting when you have good original photography and additional information to try to fit it all on, but it was time to change that pacing slightly.”

Overall the look is familiar but fresh; content-rich, but not as visually dense.

“This is a successful and subtle redesign that builds on the magazine’s strong identity while dismantling some of its more easily copied elements,” Leslie comments. “My initial reaction was that the layouts felt a little rudderless, but I soon got used to the relative lack of decoration and enjoyed reading the longer texts. The design feels satisfyingly more open, and I’m keen to see how the team take advantage of the looser grids in future issues.”

In the world of “run this content everywhere,” publishers would be smart to look to Monocle and their focus on real print design. Brûlé showed us all that yes, there is money to be made from a solid base in print publishing when you make that your primary mission.