Founder of Monocle talks design & business to students

“I don’t want to see the bald spots of people’s heads,” began Tyler Brûlé, urging the audience to refrain from tweeting. “I want everyone in the room tonight.”

Brûlé, business guru and the founder of internationally renowned Monocle magazine, spoke to a packed auditorium of students at OCAD last night. He also runs Winkreative, a branding agency with bureaus in North America, Europe and Asia. His company was even hired to redesign the Swiss International Airlines in 2001.

Brûlé completed two years of journalism at Ryerson in his youth before leaving for a job at the BBC in Manchester, England. He stopped by the school yesterday afternoon, and joked that they wouldn’t take him back. “I’m a card carrying university dropout and I never looked back,” he said.

Last night, he discussed his career history. While reporting in Afghanistan, both of his arms were grazed by bullets. This taught him some important lessons: “Datsun’s are not bulletproof. Cashmere in not bulletproof either.” But more importantly, he realized that he didn’t want to work for companies that don’t take care of their journalists, so he started his own.

He wanted Monocle to provide coverage on political affairs, business and culture, along with guilty pleasures like what to buy and where to eat. And unlike other publications, Brûlé refuses to make an iPad edition of the mag. Instead, they have spent half a million dollars on a radio program, Monocle 24. He said that a magazine will only make money from an iPad app if it includes porn.

While on a beach, a couple with iPads reinforced his opinion.

“It was remarkable watching people set up shade devices to read screens of social media,” he said. When one person wanted to swim, the other had the watch the devices. So Brûlé launched Monocle as a newspaper. He joked that it works as a hat, too.

Brûlé finished his talk by answering questions, like why he wouldn’t change the name of Winkreative to Crème Brûlé. He then provided his list of ways to make Toronto more design smart.

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