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Being Tyler Brûlé » 2009 » July

Archive for July 2009

 
 

Service, and the lack of

Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 D-AIHS

My Lufthansa experience the other day was anything but TBI 100. Although I appreciate the proper cabin uniforms and the charming Mid-European accents, I would also like to add some service from the more well mannered parts of our flight origin. As my Star Alliance points regrettably belonged to another programme than Miles & More, I was treated like the rest of the Economy Class cattle – prodded to behave. Surely, there is such a word as ‘flexibility’ in German, recht?

Well on board the A340-600, I enjoyed the redesigned cabin with it’s lighter leather. Easier on the waking eye, I found. But the same awkward correctness showed itself during the service, impairing the experience. It is fine to do things the right way, but sometimes the right thing isn’t what the manual says but what the customer needs.

As you know, we like Lufthansa and they have many fine traits – the black first class service Merc is top notch, for instance. But when you can’t serve Krug with a smile, it doesn’t matter how well designed your timetables are.

The Cockpit Combo

Cockpit combo

When do people travel with their families? Summer time.
What is their main concern? Safety.
So what to write about on a summer sunday? Naturally, the horrors of a dysfunctional cockpit combo.

Lesson to live by: If you can’t understand what the pilot is saying, be sure to put your Oneworld Emerald status to work and board that Cathy Pacific flight bound for Singapore instead. And do it swiftly.

What’s wrong with San Francisco? This.

San Francisco Sunset


For the last month, I’ve been spending my summer hols in San Francisco. My Med place was getting a refurbishing (Gaggenau oven, Toto toilet, etc), so I thought I´d give it a shot. After all, it is a tech savvy, liberal and generally bikeable place – steep hills aside. Even the public transport works (by North American standards). That being said, the Caltrain station is not exactly Hauptbahnhof in Zürich, if you know what I mean.

However, the city has failed to make any of the Monocle´s lists of liveability. We believe Tyler Brûlé´s response to whether SF was a decent city or not was simply: “God, no!”. Quite. Therefore we feel obliged to point out what has gone so wrong with this seismological little treat on the Pacific.

The list of possible improvements is literally endless, but let’s focus on three main areas:

1. Retail. It’s a nightmare, as is most American cities. Finding an interesting shopping route requires a patient driver, willing to whizz all over the place to get a sufficient itinerary. No Tsutaya´s either, or anything even close to it.

2. City planning. Mayor Newsom may be a celebrity favourite, but a city planner he is not. In certain areas, surprisingly central, a wrong turn on a cross street will send you straight into areas where the locals prefer malt liquor to single malt.

3. Business friendliness. The whole state of California is actually the worst American state to do business in – and has been so for four years running. And even if SF can’t be blamed for the disastrous state of the state, it certainly doesn’t seem to be working especially hard to improve it. Signs of closure are as commonly spotted as 50% sales.

So, is there any hope for San Francisco? Yes. There is a surprising amount of pet oriented stores, especially in the Hayes Valley/Haight districts. Also, to our delight, we found a top pet bakery up on Union Street. We’re glad to see that the notion of canine entrepreneurship is still thriving. If that can’t pull the city and the state out of it’s rut – nothing can.

Better summer: The Tote Bag

Tote bag

The summer season is upon us, and if you did manage to catch your flight to that idyllic summer getaway house right off the beach in Palma or taking a 2 day stop-off in Santa Margeritha Ligure en route to Tuscany, you’re most likely to travel with this seasons most essential accessory – The Tote Bag.

As we see it, there are a number of items that every proper Tote bag should hold. Starting off with the bag itself, in the ideal world it will be from Tomorrowlands collection of stylish bags. The content of it could hold a couple of incredibly soft and comfortable Aspesi bermudas, a handmade notebook from Misuzudo, some Sisely Sunscream (because of its lovely fragrance) and of course you’ll be enjoying the shade through your handmade Barbisio sun hat.

That’s some essentials that a cool and modern tote bag could and should include. The question is now, what’s in your tote bag?

The Art of the Interview

Bathroom mirror narcissicism, revisited


Although countless books have been written about it, the key to the perfect interview is simply choosing the right subject.

Better societies: A Uniqlo owned Gap

Uniqlo

A couple of weeks ago exciting rumours started to appear in the wonderful world of retail. That Japanese casual clothing chain, and long time favorites, Uniqlo was preparing a bid on the mismanaged US clothing company Gap.

Already in Issue 22, Tadashi Yanai founder of Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, hinted that they would enter the US market through a large acquisition.

…the US is so big that there is no use in putting one store here and another there. So it comes back to the M&A story again. We want to purchase a company about the same size as us and use it as a platform to bring Uniqlo to all parts of the US.

The most obvious winners of this deal would be the American public. A society without neon colored polo shirts with popped collars is a society that can develop, that can move forward. Maybe even Monocle will recognize the benefits of this change, and we might see a US city on next year’s Most livable Cities list (alright we know Honolulu was on this year’s list, but really? Honolulu? Let’s call that a sponsorship…) . The best description of what Uniqlo would do for Gap is provided by The Cut

Because unlike Gap, Uniqlo is impossible to avoid. Need jeans in a pinch? Uniqlo. Have no plans to purchase anything but just feel like walking into a store with pretty colors? Walk into Uniqlo, walk out with an interesting, stylish $19 T-shirt dress. Can’t stand American Apparel but need basics? We could go on. It’s what Gap should be — though with Hamptons flavor and a slightly more subdued color palette.

Private jet – the new ambulance

Private Jet XA-ABA in Koh Samui

Our fellow highflyer Kristin, points out a very interesting blog post in the FT regarding Steve Jobs and his recent liver transplant. We quote:

“If you had access to a jet and had six hours to get anywhere in the country, you’d have a wide choice of programs,” said Dr. Michael Porayko, the medical director of liver transplants at Vanderbilt University, one of the Tennessee centers that has said it did not treat Mr. Jobs.

Could it be any clearer? We suggest mandatory private jets for anyone who wants to stay healthy. The reasons to buy a HondaJet HA-420 or a Pilatus PC-12 are literally stacking up.