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A Sampling
A Sampling

Munich Musings

September 12, 2023

A turn back to tradition, heritage, and pride of place.

Perhaps our favorite tidbit from the conference, Bavarian sartorial staples like the lederhosen and dirndl are making a comeback after decades of decline. Witnessed firsthand at department store Lodenfrey, the top floor is dedicated to the traditional garb (and flooded with the most foot traffic). While Americans typically associate these styles with Octoberfest costumes, Bavarians are reviving them in high quality and with great esteem, finding gratification in the right-of-passage purchase and practice of passing them down. The topic of national pride also came up in discussions of travel and leisure, which left us thinking: now that we've scratched the post-pandemic go-see-do itch, is it time to stay put and improve our home courts? Especially as the experience of flying worsens, and globalization continues to breed homogeneity in consumerism, CD & Co. anticipates people shifting focus to local pleasures.

Download our Complete Guide To Travel & Leisure for more on where consumers are heading.

Human connection and joie de vivre are the ultimate value proposition.

Every touchpoint of our time in Munich relayed back to this: in an isolating world run by technology, consumers increasingly respond to representations of human spirit—activities, advertising, travel, etc. At the conference, Monocle announced an "all you can eat" membership program. Attendees seemed eager to sign onto the new offering, promising regular salon-style dinners, a cruise, guided travel tours, every print edition published, and, most importantly, the opportunity to befriend likeminded subscribers. The creative director of private Swiss bank, Bergos, emphasized its “human banking” positioning—a person answers questions, not an algorithm. Meanwhile, wandering around Munich, we were heartened by the many groups of people, young and old, playing bocce in the Hofgarten, the setup of chairs in "conversation circles" at the Haus Der Kunst Museum, and the sight of all stores shuttered on Sunday, preserving a way of life that prioritizes living

Sustainable and functional design develop a lighter side.

We took a private tour of acoustic designer Marie Aigner’s home studio and were delighted by the whimsical spirit of her sustainable pieces. Recycled materials from water bottles to Hermes and Loro Piana fabric scraps comprised home and decor items that reduce ambient noise, including a “bad hair day lamp,” a giant ceiling tassel, a foam chandelier, and a cactus-shaped coat rack, to name a few favorites. At the conference, we heard from Microlino, a Swiss-Italian “electric bubble” car company taking design inspiration from the 1950's and leaning into the use of bright colors—a refreshing departure from all the Blade Runner-esque EV’s zooming around the marketplace.

Architecture and urban planning push for people’s health with a green thumb.

Designing for proximity to nature was a resounding, common thesis for Quality of Life. Urbanist and academic Carlos Moreno heralded the “3-3-3” rule for cities: people should be able to spot three trees from their window, reach a park in 300 meters, while 30% of the city should be shaded. Mexican architect Miguel Cervantes reviewed a portfolio of work including an indoor-outdoor office that communes with nature, a James Perse store that’s not only trendy, but intelligent, and a restaurant built with natural wood, using the forest smell as glue for memory-making. We saw these principles outside the idealistic conference walls at the Alte Pinakothek Museum, where scaffolding was covered with green vines, colorful flowers, and potted plants—a simple but effective endorphin-boosting design detail.

Well-designed stores put Munich on the map for retail inspiration.

While “Gorpcore” becomes a U.S. fashion meme, officially cursed by the Nolita Dirtbags of the world, we discovered an Austrian brand that suggests fashion’s outdoor-ification may have a second, more sophisticated act. Presented in a polished retail space, Frauenschuh elegantly blends sportswear and recreation wear in soft color palettes and sleek design details. Contemporary brand Closed's recently renovated store reinvigorates the shopping experience with distinctly designed rooms and a lovely coffee bar up front for a homey touch. Florist Imperia III caught our eye with a colorful selection of imported European pantry staples, nodding to the continued discretionary-spend shift toward cooking and entertaining. Lastly, Tory Burch earned The Co.’s honors, blending into the old town district buildings’ natural architecture and aesthetics, where so many other brand names stick out like sore corporate thumbs. 

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