For the last 15 years, Mr. Brûlé, an Estonian-Canadian who keeps his perma-stubble artfully cropped like Tom Ford’s, has gone outside the publishing establishment and started two culture magazines regarded as bibles in certain design-savvy circles: Wallpaper and Monocle.
And he did so while upending notions of what a media company does.
While everyone hailed the iPad as the savior of print, Mr. Brûlé put out a limited-edition newspaper for the slopes of Gstaad and the beaches of Cannes. While retailers rushed online, Mr. Brûlé opened a chain of Monocle boutiques, a micro-extension of the magazine’s shopper-as-curator ethos. And while music migrates to the cloud, Mr. Brûlé started a radio station, with “an international playlist” that samples sounds “from Seoul to Stockholm.”
The common thread behind these disparate ventures is Mr. Brûlé himself, who embodies the border-agnostic sophisticate whom the Monocle brand is built around. His globe-trotting persona (cocktails-with-Danish-diplomats intellectualism, sleeper-seat jaunts to Taipei) has inspired legions of followers, who hang on his oracular pronouncements on what’s next.