On with the show - Issue 171 - Magazine | Monocle

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monocle has always had a penchant for a good trade fair. Enter the halls of convention centres across the world and you are suddenly immersed into the lives of coffee traders, bathroom-equipment manufacturers, textile brands or motor manufacturers. While some events come and go from our schedule, many of these gatherings remain annual fixtures on our editorial calendar. One of these is Mipim, the world’s most important property and real estate event. The marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier (hence why they call it Mipim) has been running since 1990 and has an attractive home, the Palais des Festivals in Cannes (the venue that also hosts the town’s famous film festival).

But it’s not just the chance to be in the south of France that pulls us in. As you walk the halls, track down people for interviews and off-the-record briefings, you build a detailed map of which cities and nations are on the move – often upwards with the help of skyline-defining edifices – and where’s struggling. But you also get a sense of social trends – is office life truly doomed or just transforming? Do people feel secure and welcome in the cities where they live? If not, why? And you can also spot who’s really investing in sustainability, in beauty, in liveability; and who the sharks are. We’ll be heading back there in March, finding the stories that we think you should know about and tracking down the people we should all be listening to.


But why wait until then? For this issue of monocle, we have hit the streets in cities from São Paulo to Copenhagen to meet the developers, foundations, builders and co-operatives that we think are doing some good. People and organisations that are looking beyond pure profit to deliver care homes where the elderly are embraced by architecture, offices where people find collaboration and consensus easy to achieve, buildings that have been adapted for re-use with élan. It’s a realm that we should all take an interest in – the world of property and development can make or break a neighbourhood and shape our lives for the better or for the worse.

As part of the report, I met architect Guillermo Reynés of gras Reynés Arquitectos in Palma de Mallorca to see through his eyes a project that he has delivered for the Fluxà family, founders of Camper shoes among other things. It’s a series of seven buildings built around a busy intersection of roads in the El Terreno neighbourhood, once the happening heart of nightlife but in recent years down on its luck. Client and architect have come together to create a series of buildings that contain homes to rent, a café to linger in, offices, a flower shop, a bakery and a supermarket – all in a rich array of colours and materials. As with many of the people we interviewed, both Reynés and Miguel Fluxà, ceo of Camper, spoke less about profit (they could have just lobbied for another hotel) than about giving back to a city they care about.

One country that seems to be hiring ever bigger booths and stands at trade fairs is Poland. In sectors from finance to medicine, architecture and, yes, property, Poland is playing an ever-more important role. But there’s one trade where its rise is truly astonishing: furniture manufacturing. Flatpack masters and high-end brands have all been coming to the country to have products expertly made. Poland is now one of the world’s top-three furniture exporters. This month, our Expo trundles through snowy forests and into hi-tech factories as we grasp what’s been happening.

We also meet the conscripts in the Lithuanian army, discover the most covetable collection of graphic design for sale, see how France intends to keep crowds at the Olympic Games safe and meet the chefs who cook for presidents and kings. 

Some different house news. We have a lot of projects and plans in play for 2024: expect more physical monocle spaces, new books, a digital initiative and plenty of events. The first of these is an outing for The Chiefs, the event where we ask leaders in numerous fields to tell us their stories, reveal their tips for success. It’s in Hong Kong on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 March. Come. We’d love to see you. We might even check out some real estate.

Please feel free to send suggestions, tips and perspectives. You’ll find me at at@monocle.com. –– L

Illustrator: Motiejus Vaura

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