It’s not really smack in the centre of the alcohol lane of Holland Village, but at the adjacent Chip Bee Gardens, Monocle’s new Singapore shop and bureau is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it.
That’s because it is among a row of residential terrace houses.
At 74 Jalan Kelabu Asap, the revered culture magazine has set up base in Singapore after a series of pop-up events and visits here by honcho Tyler Brulé.
Brulé has had some harsh words for the country when he said in February that he was considering setting up base in Singapore. He balked at the questionable service culture here that has Singaporeans thinking that “such jobs are for the labour class”.
But the vibe at the Jalan Kelabu Asap café does seem to have an appreciation for service when Popspoken visited its premises Sunday, a week before the official opening. Two service staff promptly made a latté from Allpress coffee, while staff were on hand to assist in enquiries on the various items stocked in the shop.
Global retail operations manager Ian Hammond said to Popspoken that careful consideration was used to ensure the outpost blended in with the residential surroundings. Citing a similar concept used by Singapore’s Underscore Magazine whose office was in the same strip, the music from radio station Monocle 24 is kept to a low volume and rowdiness is at a minimum. He said the company was in talks with local authorities for quite some time before the opening to ensure operations ran smoothly.
Editorial operations at Monocle’s Singapore outpost are currently beefing up. The bureau here plans to hire not more than five on editorial, said Hammond. (Given the small office space on the second level, we would understand why.) Deputy bureau chief Jason Li is currently leading operations here, although it is not clear if the Singapore-born, Toronto-based editor is staying in the long-term.
But for fans of the brand, they can finally heave a sigh of relief that Monocle, which has chastised Singapore’s unnatural, capitalistic growth on multiple occassions, has finally taken a leap of faith on a country that is beginning to have a quiet but palpable cultural revolution.
Photos: Kyle Malinda-White for Popspoken