The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 8 September 2015

Image: Kiana Hayeri

Beating a path to Tehran

It is perhaps fitting that the Austrian president, Heinz Fischer, is the first European head of state to visit Tehran since his capital played host to the successful talks on Iran’s nuclear programme. Away from the pomp, Iran’s business community will be far more interested in meeting the rest of the delegation: senior officials from more than 130 Austrian companies are also on board the presidential jet. Iran, Fischer claims, is Austria’s “second most important business partner outside Europe”. If this week’s trip is a success, that relationship could be even stronger in the coming years.

Image: Reuters

Bousai business

Earthquakes are never far from the thoughts of Tokyo’s residents and the city has been upping its readiness for disaster. Dropping through letter boxes this week is an unusually well-designed tome: Tokyo Bousai /Let’s get Prepared! The bright-yellow volume has everything a Tokyo citizen needs to prepare for a range of potential disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, military attack and infectious disease. It even has a terrific manga, Tokyo X Day, by veteran manga author Kaiji Kawaguchi, set in Tokyo during an earthquake. And of course it has a mascot: Bousai-kun, a three-year-old rhino or sai. Only last week, thousands of people in the earthquake-prone metropolis took part in drills on Disaster Prevention Day, an annual reminder that the world’s safest city is also its riskiest.

Image: Getty Images

Up in the air

North America is yet to have a truly global transit hub to match Heathrow or Schiphol. That’s according to Air Canada’s Ben Smith, president of passenger airlines. But as more travellers connect through Toronto, Smith reckons a little aggressive marketing could turn Toronto Pearson International Airport into a centre for international traffic, particularly to and from the US. “Air Canada can work to develop a valid transit hub and it may have some degree of success if it provides value,” says David Learmount, consulting editor at Flightglobal. “Hubbing gives travellers more choices and better value on long haul, causing the market to expand. Air Canada wants a part in this.”

Image: François Cavelier

Design Mecca

Maison & Objet in Paris celebrated its 20th anniversary as the September trade-fair season gets into full swing. If you are in the business of buying for the design industry, these fairs are your lifeblood. But how can one trade fair stand out above the others? When Spanish lava lamps are displayed at the same event as German steak knives and the very best in Danish furniture design, what is the right balance of products, brands and intended visitors? Maison’s director-general Philippe Brocart oversaw a shake up this year that shifted 80 per cent of the exhibitors from their usual spots in order to mingle the established players with the aspiring brands and first-timers. The result? An object lesson in the art of curating an interesting trade fair – Salone, Stockholm and London take note.

From Monocle 24

Image: Ian Ransley

The most indie city in the world?

Is Portland, Oregon the most indie city in the world? The city has a plethora of independent business, food trucks, magazines, publishers, record labels, bands... the list goes on. This week’s edition of Culture asks “What is ‘indie’?” Tune in.

From Monocle Films

Fogo Island – Part 1: Entrepreneurship

With a population of just 2,400, Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, is an inspiring example of how rural communities can be brought back to life. In the first film of our two-part series we profile Zita Cobb and her Shorefast entrepreneurial vision for the island.

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