According to his profile in New York Magazine, written by Amy Larocca, Tyler Brûlé is many things. He is the founder of now-defunct Wallpaper magazine, the editor of deeply ostentatious Monocle magazine, "a hard-core devotee of old-fashioned media," "an exceptionally relaxed Clark Kent," "editor, tastemaker, mini media mogul," "the gold standard of what is currently considered modern 'good taste,'" and, perhaps most important of all, "a Martha Stewart for the global elite."

What, exactly, does all that mean? Larocca endeavors to explain Brûlé and Monocle.

The key to comprehending the Brûlé philosophy is to understand it is developed chiefly via great enthusiasms. Monocle is not naïve about the world (though reading it, you could be excused for thinking the Japanese are incapable of bad design or deflation), nor is it cynical. "Through the darkest hours of a sagging economy, there’s always an optimistic tone," says Brûlé. "There’s lots of hectoring voices out there, a lot of anger about things, but that’s not why people come to our brand."

The magazine is, in many ways, in distinct opposition to the prevailing winds of culture: It cares next to nothing for celebrities. It’s earnest rather than ironic. And perhaps most touchingly, it keeps wanting to unearth success stories—or to proffer advice for companies and countries that could use a bit of a rethink. As high-flying as its tastes can seem (“It’s official: The Koreans do the best hotel gyms”), Monocle also exhibits a deep curiosity about the state of infrastructure in big cities and small towns. About public housing. About measures to improve traffic safety in La Paz (hiring youths in zebra costumes had a strangely beneficial effect). About the efforts of Tbilisi to transform its skyline. It assumes its readers are every bit as interested in the goings-on at city hall in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as they are in understanding how Afghan drug lords have destroyed the temples of a desperately remote town. It also assumes they’re eager to know where to get excellent toiletries in Zurich and delicious margaritas in Beirut.

Brûlé also survived an ambush, and three gunshot wounds, while on assignment on Afghanistan in 1994. And he loves home design!