The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 9 September 2015

Image: European Union 2015 - Jacquemart Jennifer

Merkel’s minions?

Politicians love a big set-piece speech and Jean-Claude Juncker is no different. The president of the European Commission will today deliver his State of the Union address, an attempt to set the European agenda for the coming year. But Juncker’s grandstanding will not be afforded the respect and attention that an American president garners for his State of the Union speech. The Luxembourgish politician is one of three European leaders who gets to call himself president: Donald Tusk is president of the European Council and Martin Schulz holds the same position in the European Parliament. Juncker’s speech is an attempt to prove he’s more important but most Europeans know the real president of Europe is someone else entirely: Angela Merkel.

Image: Zaha Hadid

Down the pan

After Japanese architects queued up to criticise Zaha Hadid’s futuristic design for a new national stadium in Tokyo, the Iraq-British architect hit back by calling them “hypocrites”. In July, with increasing public uproar over the cost of Hadid’s stadium – 250bn yen at the last count – the plan was dumped and the hunt for a new design began. But now Hadid is back. With the budget capped at 155bn yen, she is making a second bid to build the stadium, this time with the Japanese architecture and engineering firm Nikken Sekkei and a more emollient attitude. That may not be enough to rescue it though. Cost was only one problem; the bigger issue was the design, which reminded critics of a toilet seat. Even the head of the Olympic organising committee doesn’t like it; when Yoshiro Mori ditched Hadid’s vision he compared it to a raw oyster.

Go Brazilian

Is this a turning point for the Brazilian art market? The fifth incarnation of ArtRio, which opens today in Rio de Janeiro, is the biggest and – crucially – the most international version yet. Among the big international galleries joining the fray are New York City’s David Zwirner Gallery and France’s Galerie Bernard Ceysson. But ArtRio is as much about boosting sales of Brazilian art as it is about bringing in global players. Less than a third of Brazilian artworks are currently bought by collectors based outside the country – a disappointingly small number for a country with such talent. With Brazil’s economy stuttering, an increase in international sales would be a timely boost.

Image: Andreas Jakwerth

The empire strikes back

Vienna is a city built to be the capital of a vast empire, linking people all the way from the Balkans to Trieste. Today Austria may look purely Germanic but its Slavic ties and Jewish roots are still there. And with all the arrivals from Syria – and from many more places besides – Vienna can be seen as a global beacon in more varied ways again. This week we are on the road promoting our new book, The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes, and we are currently in the Austrian capital. Yesterday we saw a nice hint of the old empire and a warm embrace of its cosmopolitanism. At the soon-to-open Grand Ferdinand Hotel the owners are building a goulash and champagne bar – a riposte to modern fast food but also a celebration of Vienna as a place at the heart of a network of revived eastern cities. In the most polite way, it seems that the empire strikes back.

From Monocle 24

Image: André Vieira

The Voyager: São Paulo

The newest addition to the Monocle 24 schedule is The Voyager, a weekly travel show with a difference. Each week a Monocle editor or correspondent touches down in one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic emerging cities, taking you beyond the tourist traps to give you an insider’s view of the very best in local hospitality, culture, business and design. This week we’re in São Paulo.

From Monocle Films

Image: François Coquerel

Maison & Objet

Monocle visits the biannual Parisian trade show’s 20th instalment to bring you new finds from the homeware and design worlds.

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