It’s long been said that the line between personal and professional life has blurred. Telecommuting, mobile technology, laptops and the global economy have all helped to create an environment where traditional 9-5 hours are a thing of the past. Gyro, a global, independent ad agency, has taken this notion to heart, creating the notion of the @work state of mind. Check out the pdf here and watch this video:
I whole-heartedly agree with this approach, but wonder if we aren’t transitioning to something else: work as a lifestyle. I don’t mean that in the Gordon Gekko Wall Street-sense, or the American Psycho business card scene-sense, but something more natural. Sure, The Economist publishes a Culture section, but those are about diversions. If we’ve entered the @work state of mind era, then one publication brilliantly captures the now seamless melding of work and play: Monocle. I’ve shared my love of Monocle in the past and have always found it a worthwhile read. But now I’m seeing it in a different light. Their editorial isn’t merely global reportage of business and cultural trends, it’s a guidebook on how to live in an @work state of mind age. I’ve been reading the October Issue and was struck by two, possibly subliminally connected, notions: most of the ads are for fashion houses – Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Dunhill, Ermenegildo Zegna (that’s just in the first 17 pages); and with no more than one or two exceptions, literally every person profiled or even featured in an editorial photograph, could have been a model for those fashion house ads. No, they didn’t look like the guy in the Hermes ad, but they were all slim and wearing great clothes. Take a look at Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign affairs minister. Was he styled by Monocle for the shoot?
Does Monocle cover the style of business, or the business of style? It’s impossible to tell because the people they profile seem to live in both worlds, and that, I believe, is the point. Monocle understands that the distinctions between business and culture, between professional and personal, no longer have meaning. The people profiled are committed to what they do, and therefore they see no distinctions between who they are and what they do.
In some ways I see the books of William Gibson, especially his most recent Blue Ant Trilogy, as also showcasing this “work as lifestyle” movement. The lead character in Patter Recognition is Cayce Pollard, a “freelance marketing consultant, a coolhunter with an unusual intuitive sensitivity for branding…” Her relationship with clothing is described thusly:
“CPUs. Cayce Pollard Units. That’s what Damien calls the clothing she wears. CPUs are either black, white, or gray, and ideally seem to have come into this world without human intervention. What people take for relentless minimalism is a side effect of too much exposure to the reactor-cores of fashion. This has resulted in a remorseless paring-down of what she can and will wear. She is, literally, allergic to fashion. She can only tolerate things that could have been worn, to a general lack of comment, during any year between 1945 and 2000. She’s a design-free zone, a one-woman school of anti whose very austerity periodically threatens to spawn its own cult.”
Where does the job end and the person begin? It’s often difficult to say in the works of Gibson.
Monocle further blurs the lines itself by not only being a publication, but also having online and physical retail outlets in New York, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing and Osaka. With exquisitely curated offerings they aren’t merely selling clothes, they are purveyors of the Monocle lifestyle. This is why Monocle is such a powerful brand in my opinion. They understood the “work as lifestyle” trend and created a brand that feeds into it.