The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 3 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

How Thailand became the king of the mall

Bangkok is home to the world’s most ambitious shopping malls and any global developer or retailer knows that the city sets the global benchmark with the likes of the new EmQuartier. In the heart of the Thai capital around Sukhumvit Road the key players have long fought a game of one-upmanship but now Thailand’s powerful Central Group is taking the battle to the suburbs with a “super mall” called Centralplaza Westgate. While the expansion of the mall battle is impressive, it also stands testament to how, even in these challenging times for the country, the middle classes are growing. The mall has half-a-million square metres of retail as well as extensive dining and entertainment precincts and is located in Nonthaburi, an area that is set to become a hyper-connected part of town through new transport infrastructure. “This area will complete the lifestyle of people in this area,” says Wallaya Chirathivat, a senior executive on the project.

Image: Reuters/Thomas Peter

Japan flexes its military muscles

With the recent unveiling of its new Izumo-class helicopter destroyer, Japan gets more than just added fire power for its naval fleet. The 19,500-tonne vessel also signals Tokyo’s determination to act as a counterweight to China’s growing military presence in the region. When commissioned in 2017, the Kaga will become the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ second Izumo-class carrier, a vessel with space for 14 helicopters and sophisticated surveillance and weapons systems for hunting submarines and carrying out maritime minesweeping operations. Given the defensive mandate of Japan’s military, Tokyo is quick to stress the vessel’s role in peacekeeping, search and rescue, anti-piracy and disaster-relief missions. But Beijing will not have missed the obvious message that its claims to vast swathes of the South China Sea and its assertive naval manoeuvres in the East China Sea have not gone uncontested. Yet the show of might may also help rebalance the fire power in the region.

Image: Les Gambettes

Design for living

Maison&Objet started as a humble homeware tradeshow 20 years ago but now stakes a claim to be one of the design calendar’s most important dates. Expansion and mobility have been key to its success and new instalments in Singapore (last year) and Miami Beach (last May) have buoyed the Reed Expositions and Safi Salons-owned event into competition with the annual design-world staples such as the huge Milanese furniture fair Salone del Mobile. Starting this Friday (and running until 8 September) in Paris’s Parc des Expositions, Maison’s eight halls of exhibitors run the gamut from design-world heavyweights to budding businesses and first-timers. As well as shaking up the layout of the fair, its director Philippe Brocart is optimistic about buyers and exhibitors from the more mature, western markets such as the US and UK. "Sweden, Denmark and the north of Europe are booming,” he says. “But we’re also watching Spain and Portugal.” A sentiment that hints at a loss of optimism in China across the design sector.

From Monocle 24

Frame and fortune

If you own a Warhol, Bacon or Leibovitz then the fine-art frame company John Jones should be in your address book. Meet Matt Jones, the founder’s son and the go-to art framer, in this story from Monocle 24’s business show, The Entrepreneurs.

From Monocle Films

This is how you should get around the city

Last week saw the world’s top bike makers converge on Friedrichshafen in Germany for Eurobike 2015. They were there to unveil their newest, fastest two-wheeled inventions. And this is who we think was at the head of the design pack.

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