Thursday, 4 April 2013

Monocle Café, London

So the Monocle Café has finally opened on Marylebone’s languid Chiltern street. It’s a very different proposition from the Tokyo café; the smaller space understandably brings a more slavish adherence to clean lines which is utterly on-brand. It is closer to the mould of a modern coffee shop than its department store basement cousin in Japan; itself more a stylised canteen or airport lounge.

The Tokyo original has more curves, non-standard angles, texture and fluidity, which is ironic given that it was designed by Omotesando Koffee’s Eiichi Kunitomo, enlisted due to his own impeccably lined, cubist masterpiece. Ostensibly, he out-Monocled Tyler. But then, Japan is the muse. With a dash of Nordic governance and pragmatism.

Coffee is procured from East London Kiwi outfit Allpress, served with Japanese inspired crockery and trays (for sale, naturally), and is thoroughly Antipodean in execution. Which is to say excellent. Cakes were baffling – they resembled the oversweet, glacier fruited cakes of Chinatown, but with real fruit pieces and actually pretty tasty. I look forward to the full menu, which promises more brunch items and possibly even gin. 

The staff are Monocle through and through. Really, the whole thing is. Whether or not the whole brand proposition is fanciful and aspirational beyond the stars is beside the point (of course it is, does the easily attainable sell £6 magazines?), as the delivery here is spot on.

Beyond some less-explored world commentary, bold ideas and voices on contemporary living, and its championing of print media, Monocle will be long remembered as an exquisite case study in branding. It’s unshakeable, beautiful, consistent, ubiquitous and preposterous. With a blue apron and a perfect beard.

It has shrewdly tapped in to success, vanity, knowledge and frequent flyer status as manifestations of the professional man’s raw competitive streak, and created something brilliant. I see it for what it is - as both  advertising bod and targeted punter, and I admire it even more.

Monocle Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. I've yet to read a more succinctly scribed description of the Monocle brand than this. Bravo!

  2. Thank you very much for saying so!