Once quaint and leisurely, rail ravel is more and more t mimicking the soulless experience dished out regularly the airlines. by Everything sacrificed for is speed as travellers squeeze intohermetically sealed lubes, sit on lightweight mouldedplastic and pass the time staring at their electronicdevices. Switzerland's Bhatische Bahn(RhB)thinks some thingsare best left alone. Commuterson its bright red rollingstock are still free to openthe window when carriages get a tad stuffy andprop themselves up on properwooden armrests whenreading the paperthetunnels in the mountainousGraubunden cantonmake wi-f tricky. Train wagons have curtains, carpetingand woven seat


fabrics with a classic railroad look, made by locals. Outside, the Alps give riders a perfect excuse to peer up from their work while shuttling back and forth across the Engadine at a less frenetic pace. - rc rhb.ch Most charming points:

01: Scenery you never get
tired of. What other commute can compete with the Sights of the limestone Landwasser Viaduct and the Piz Semina peak? 02: The chance to breathe fresh Alpin" ~ir. There's still something tolbe said for proper windows that slide down to the waist to let passengers get a bit closer to nature (and have a cleaner shot of that dropdead gorgeous panorama): 03: Swiss punctuality which represents honest integrity. "Monocle note: RhB must continue to operate trains with pull-down windows.

is being written out of modern a time when we've: never needed it It's being destroyed by an increasrisk-averse generation of managers an agenda to do the impossible: turn maximum profit while pleasing as many as possible. is effortless but it's also a responsibility - you don't have to smile or person who picks up your nr''''IT1t'''r! change but if you do, then an inbecomes something a bit than a meaningless transaction. also requires a degree of honesty integrity - it's not something you fake (though the US service tries hard), which is precisely makes it such it special quality. Charm is entirely human - it is about cnaracter and individuality. Whether it be or a street, a city or a shop, an or a cafe, if it's deemed charming, because there is' something deeply we connect 10 ,in it; the wear-andof repeated use or the familiarity of routine. There's nothing '-llj"-LJJL.ll.lILC; about Dubai, where skyscrapers
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The Charming Index






and rz-lane motorways collide. Or automated phone calls. Charm is about conviction - having an opinion, following an instinct, feeding a passion - not asking a thousand people what the think and meeting everyone somewhere in the middle. The internet isn't just charmless as a vacuum of human interaction, it is also a tool whereby everyone is entitled to an opinion. From comment threads to the poison of TripAdvisor, the internet gives voice to a rnillion armchair commentators, encouraging people and businesses to "play it safe" to please the masses. Charm is unquantifiable, which is why management consultants and MBA graduates overlook it. Decisions about the future of a town, building or business that are made in the boardroom don't consider the importance of charm. Taking a punt on a quality that can't be measured in facts and figures is deemed the ultimate risk. And yet charm is arguably the most important factor for securing repeat business, which in today's financial climate is invaluable. Charm is fragile too - it's not something you can buy (Dubai, again), it takes time to nurture and requires safeguarding because, once lost, it's near impossible to reinstate. It's for all these reasons that we have decided to put charm in the spotlight for 2012. On the following pages we've selected 10 key proponents of charm each of which is doing what they do perfectly without following any management consultation. It's a call to arms. Or perhaps a call to charm. - (M)
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Global creative agen y Pentagram has a Lon on office that epitomises the company's structure nd' ethos. Based in a for er milkfactory in west L ndon since 1984, the office designed by foundin partner Thea Crosby, many of the original 1 century features have been kept or sensibly conv rted. The main office upsta rs is a democratic space - 0 enplan clusters of desks where the different teams sit with arched alcoves (form rlythe ramp where the horse would collect the milk where the partners ha e their individualdesks i one long row. For an agency that combines graphics, p oduct and identity design an architecture it's no sur rise the space is awash wi h interesting bits and bO~s. Downstairs is an exte sive archive and a homely kitchen and canteen. ou might say this is the hJart of Pentagram - when it as founded in 1972, it pioneered free lunche , for its staff. Fast forward ~ years and a proper lun h is still on the menu every day. One more addition to t e team is Rollo, partner~ WilliamRussell's dog, ho has scampered aroun the office since he was a p ppy. "For me the charm our London office is the timeless quality of the pace we work in," says Ang s Hyland, another of the ~6 partners. "It's a space tiat was created by five extraordinary minds and it continues to be rein. Vigrdrated by the current generati of designers." - HM .



pentagram. com



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Most charming points 01: Cooperation - in ev ry sense. The partners po I their earnings each yea and divide them up equally.

02: Creative clutter me ns each workspace tells a tory of the person working t ere. 03: The original feature structure of the former factory have been enha through clever conversi and ilk















Eating out is one of life's simpler pleasures but too often cold interiors, indecipherable menus and overzealous chefs get in the way of a good meal. A weekend lunch at Osteria della VillEltta, an hour's drive east Milan, restores faith in a profession that is at its best VI hen it sticks to the basics; Patrons sit on wellworn chairs and rest their elbows on wooden tables free 01 stiff tablecloths. The Libert:1-s tyle decor has r remained largely untouched since thn restaurant's doors first opened to hungry travellinq salesmen in 1900. The day's specials are read ou~ and there's no need to peruse a tlloated wine list - owner Maurizio Rossi, the fourth g~neration to command the kitchen, has Ii·,tle trouble steering diners towards a bottle of Franciacorta, the local rival to charnpaqne. Regional comfort food (meatballs, sweet sitewed peppers and pan-\riEld perch fished from nearby Lake Isea) takes the place of fancy-named pastas. The well-measured service, with Rossi and his wife, Grazia, on the front line weal ing between guests, leaves you feeling as if you've stumbled into somsone's home. -IC Dste ·adel/avilJetta.it


Mo~;t charrninq points: 01: Th" pop of the cork every jlime owner Maurizio Rossi opens another bottle of Vi. ell-made Italian bubbly bah nd the bar.

02: ocal dishes made with
local ingredients - the coldcuts corne from livestock literpJI"{around the corner.

03: Service that's familiar

anq never rushed.

Guests linger long after desserts and cofieei have been enjoyed.
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Bread in Japan was once limited to shoku-pan, the blackish, spongy, industrialmade variety. Only in the past decade has it become easier to find a neighbourhood bakery selling artisanal loaves. Still, it's rare to find one that takes breadmaking as seriously as Levain does. Housed in a 150-year-old wooden home in Ueda, a city in the Japan Alps, the bakery is run by Mikio Koda. Koda, who learned from a French bread maker living in Japan, is a stickler for quality ingredients. To make bread, Levain's bakers use domestically grown wheat, natural salt and a wild yeast that Koda has cultivated for nearly three decades. A few metres from the kitchen's blazing stone oven, baguettes, pain de

campagne and fruit-and-nut loaves sit on plain wooden trays once used for sake making alongside sweet bean-filled buns and pies. Koda started his first shop in Tokyo in 1984. But while making trips to Ueda to care for his elderly parents, he heard that an old warehouse nearby was vacant, and in 2003 he opened in his hometown. With its exposed timber beams, wooden-framed windows and antique furniture, the shop belongs in another age. - KH Most charming ,points: 01: Hospitality. Levain's staff encourage everyone to relax upstairs in the cafe. where customers remove shoes and sit on tatami mats.


02: Bakers use only natural ingredients and grind the wheat daily for dough. 03: The shop's eye on tradition, housed in a former sake warehouse.

ESSAY ONCHARM by Stephen Bayley
I'll tell you one thing you never hear. It's this. "I wish I were less charming." Aiming to wound, a schoolmaster wrote on my last rep ort, "Charm alone, will not get him through." Meaning, I think, that an affable, genial, out-going nature was not enough to ensure survival in a harsh world of statistical performance that even then was becoming dominated by dreary accountants and bland consultants. In people, charm is an attractive asset (if not to my scrofulous, beetle-brewed and negativist careers master). How else did the expression" charm the pants off" pass into currency? People whose interpersonal skills are based on the reading' of a P&L account are rarely said to possess such mysterious and fascinating powers of undress. "He could doubleentry book-keep the pants off anyone" is another thing you never, ever hear. Charm is disabling and unscientific, powerful but not measurable, hence disturbingly threatening to the management mentality, We often see in buildings or places or things, characteristics which we call "charm". The French government's

guide to hotels even has a category called "hotel de charme". Clue: ivy, geraniums in pots, open fire, direct-line to peasant or historic associations. London's tourist authority describes Covent Garden's Lamb & Flag as a "charming pub". Clue: ivy, geraniums and so 011. In architecture and products, it is always easy to detect charm, if not to define it. I suspect it is something to do with the curious relationship between accident and design. Charm is often a result of the former. Put it this way: John Pawson's superlative Novy Dvur monastery is beautiful and many other lovely' things but it is not charming. It is too fine for that. Or put it this way: a grumbling Porsche Neunelfer may be a desirable and fine car, but if-performance were calibrated in charm, it would fall far behinda Morris Minor. Power is rarely charming; vulnerability always is. Dinner at Ala.in Ducasse in Monte Carlo? Very impressive but 'cold, A beer in Vienna's Cafe Preukl where you can stiU smoke and the furniture has not changed since about 1959? Chaotic but. intensely charming. Or gemiitlich, as they say in Austro-Gerrnan. '. It all comes from the Greei~ notion of charisma - that compelling attractiveness certain people hfWethat inspires devotion,

something which so ziologist Max Weber picked up and popuJ arised in his study of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Cdpitalism. The very charismatic Albert cakus believed tha: charm gets you to a (p~nts offi') position of "yes" without ha~ing actually asked a question. Perhaps as a result, people are suspici9uS of charm. Anita Laos, for example, called public relations "fake charm". Because it is so powerful, but also so unaccountable, charm is a powerful weapon in! the battle against the bureaucratic" rriind. The HolyWrit of the management consultant was by Alfred McKinsey, whose drab successors with their onedimensional view of the world and bad s~its still' dominate government and bhsiness. McKimey said, "You can nreasme anything. And if you can measure it, you can manage it." Like my I . schoclmaster, McKinsey was roo per cent wrong. You cannot measure beauty, lbve;'happiness or. peace. You can only measure boring things. J In business as well as personal life, all ~egotiations are based on infrastructure y.rhere, during the date or the pitch, power creeps from one side to the next. Winning is a mutter of emotions, not measurements. That's why charm alone . get you through. - (M)


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