Business - Issue 121 - Magazine | Monocle

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Frankfurt — Property

Housing prices have ballooned in Frankfurt since Brexit but with long-term arrangements for the financial sector still uncertain, there is growing demand for flexible-stay options. These would allow workers to commute rather than commit to permanent relocation.

“Developers are telling us that they are considering commercial projects in response to an expected rise in demand due to Brexit,” says Juana Schulze, a consultant for Apartmentservice, which represents more than 35,000 serviced apartments across Germany. “Loads of projects are coming up in Frankfurt.” According to the company’s latest research, the German financial hub is the country’s most dynamic market for serviced apartments, set to see a 75 per cent increase by 2021 with an estimated 4,280 more units.

Frankfurt is also seeing a growth in minimally decorated rentals known as “boarding houses”, built to take advantage of the increased trend for nomadic professionals to look for the freedom of short-term rentals and the convenience of a hotel in one. They feature trim rooms and shared kitchens maintained by staff; there are also luxury add-ons to be considered, such as food delivery, laundry service and rooftop lounges.

One standout project is Studiomuc, a micro-apartment project in the central Gallus district in November. Based on Munich’s award-winning Studiomuc, the Frankfurt version will offer 345 units ranging from 17 to 56 sq m by spring 2021, complete with communal gardens and a concierge. If only there was such a neat solution for Brexit itself.

Easy rider

Sweden — Transport

Deliveries of the first 500 pre-ordered Polestar 1 – slick, range-beating hybrid cars by Volvo’s Swedish subsidiary – aren’t due to begin until late this year but the company isn’t taking its foot off the pedal. Polestar’s much-anticipated second car – pitched as a rival to Tesla 3 – is fully electric and was unveiled at the end of January. It’s a sign of how serious Volvo is about making inroads into the growing market for alternative vehicles.

“The automotive world is changing and Polestar is a leader in the transformation to electromobility,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO, who has channelled his extensive design experience into making the cars feel polished and exciting. “We will lead the way. Polestar is the guiding star.”

Spicing things up

Lebanon — F&B

To the Lebanese, za’atar has long been a kitchen staple. Now it’s proving popular abroad too. Exports of the tangy mix – made up of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt – reached 173 tonnes in the first 10 months of 2018, up from 136 tonnes in 2017 and well over double 2016’s figure. With major markets in Canada, the US, the Netherlands, Germany and the Gulf, suppliers expect continued growth.

“In Lebanon everyone is in love with za’atar but no one has given it a brand,” says designer Fady Aziz, who launched The Good Thymes farm in 2017 in his home village in south Lebanon. He ships high-quality blends worldwide and hopes to be stocked in shops abroad soon.

We are family

Paris — Technology

Alice Zagury fell into the tech world by chance after discovering an art centre’s incubator in Paris. “Following the 2008 crisis, France was heavily bureaucratic and the tech world offered the opposite: everyone was sharing their vision without needing permission,” says Zagury. After running an accelerator she set up The Family in 2013 to support start-ups. It has since invested in more than 500 firms across Europe and offers mentoring, events and talks by the likes of French president Emmanuel Macron and Facebook VPs.

Q. What would you spend €5,000 on?

Answer: “I would host a big dinner party in one of our offices in Paris, Berlin or London. It’s important to sit down, enjoy food and connect with one another.”


Pauline Vincent

À Rebours


Pauline Vincent is the director of Parisian concept shop À Rebours, which sells a unique collection of artist-made objects, ready-to-wear pieces, books and more. Named after the eccentric novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans (translated as “against nature”), it is located in the Rem Koolhaas-designed Lafayette Anticipations Corporate Foundation.

Why did you set up À Rebours?
We wanted to create a unique shop, creating a link between the art foundation and [department store] Galeries Lafayette. We focus on contemporary creations, which work along the lines of a laboratory for talent.

Have you had to alter much since opening in 2018?
We’re concentrating more on objects and design, especially since we did our first pop-up with [French culture magazine] Milk Deco this winter. We need to evolve in exactly the same way as the Lafayette Anticipations Foundation itself functions.

What does your shop add to the Paris retail scene?
This is a shop where visitors can hear the stories of the artists and designers behind the creations. Today, retail is being challenged. We think that the way back is by telling stories and creating a special link through culture.

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