Apparently the magazine Wallpaper has decamped to Brazil this month to write a special on the country. Some 17 reporters and editors are working from a provisional office in São Paulo, which will be the main focus of their June edition.
Wallpaper, I think I am right in saying, was started by Tyler Brule, who then sold it and went on to found Monocle. It remains a style bible for people who like art, design, architecture and overpriced luxuries.
I know all this because the editor Tony Chambers was interviewed in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper the other day. Read the interview here in Portuguese.
Now I know there’s a place for magazines like Wallpaper and Monocle and a lot of what they do is great. Monocle, I know, has done exceptionally well since its inception three years ago.
But the way they glorify conspicuous consumption, especially in a country as unequal as Brazil, leaves me cold.
There’s something fundamentally upsetting about reading Chambers say: “Spending money on high quality goods is admirable.”
Spending money is admirable?!??!
(This in addition to him trying to ingratiate himself with the locals with the ridiculous claim that traffic in London is worse than traffic in São Paulo.)
Chambers probably never saw it but in the same day’s paper (or maybe the day before, I can’t remember) there was another comment on Brazil’s big spenders that summed them up their mentality.
A study showed that car importers whack massive levies on their vehicles. Of the six examples given, the cheapest – a Volkswagen Touareg 3.6 V6 – sold for more than twice its US price. Others were going for almost four times their US value.
The reason is greed. Or the “Brazil profit” as the study’s author is quoted as saying.
In other words, car importers, the same as importers of mustard, jeans and furniture to name just a few, happily slap huge margins on the cars because they know there are plenty people with money who are willing to pay those ridiculous premiums in order to own a brand name.
To me, it’s the definition of having more money than sense. And I don’t find it admirable. Just daft. Or pathetic.