The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 16 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

Up in arms

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen; Turkey’s renewed fight on its borders; the quiet arms race between Armenia and Azerbaijan. All of these conflicts will be underpinning London’s Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition as defence chiefs mingle among 1,500 exhibitors, with everything from drones to advanced airdrops on the stands. Many will be discussing the future of the host’s armed forces ahead of a UK defence review in November. “After six years of spending cuts, we have to accept that we’ve gone too far,” says Howard Wheeldon, a defence analyst. “There is a commitment in terms of the budget, which is a positive start, but we need to do more so that defence and security are taken into proper account.”

Image: iStock

Yes, pecan!

America’s pecan industry is looking to follow in the footsteps of the mighty almond. A dedicated Federal Marketing Order (FMO), if approved early next year, would officially represent growers and shellers internationally, overseeing a unified research and marketing front. Since almonds received an FMO in the 1950s, the industry has grown 33 times over. China already has a taste for America’s pecans and Mike Adams, president of the American Pecan Board, estimates that about a third of the 136 million kilograms grown in the US goes to China. But if the pecan had a pitch on par with the almond, Adams believes this number would be even higher. “It’s not like we don’t have favourable tree nuts, we do,” he says, “we just haven’t put them in front of consumers as we should have.”

Image: Estonia/World Expo Milano 2015

Power pavilions

Monocle joined the rain-soaked masses at Expo Milano 2015 this weekend to visit some of the numerous national pavilions. And some smaller countries did very well with their spending. Estonia’s timber pavilion explained how the country was making wooden housing for export and told you quirky stuff such as it considers itself the home of the swing (although the signs saying how much Estonians liked swinging may have caused some confusion). Monaco came across as modest, charitable and concerned about everything from ecology to education. And Bahrain surprised with a pavilion-cum-garden that was low-rise and enticing. But there were shockers: Romania’s looked like they forgot to bring anything to put inside and several African nations resorted to running mini craft markets.

Image: Kohei Take

A bright spark

Shopping for electronics can be a harrowing experience, punctuated by flashing screens, garish plastics and strip lights. Not so at Tsutaya Electrics in Tokyo, where products are tastefully presented on wooden desks and interspersed with a selection of books and greenery, also for sale. It’s the work of Culture Convenience Club (CCC), a Tokyo company that’s rethinking retail environments. “[We’re] in the golden age of internet sales,” says CCC’s Sumiyo Motonaga. “What sells most online is books and then it’s electronics. As a planning company we work on innovation in physical retail. Once we’d made a success of our Tsutaya bookshop in Daikanyama it made sense to move on to electronics.” Read our report in the new issue on Monocle, on newsstands this week.

From Monocle 24

Ljubljana Biennial

As Slovenia’s capital hosts the 60th edition of the now-famous Biennial of Graphic Arts, Section D takes stock of the historical, abstract and more applied side of graphic design in the region.

From Monocle Films

Senior style: Lessons in longevity

For many older people in Japan work isn’t just a way to keep busy but is a source of happiness and wellbeing. Monocle visits Japan’s elderly – from a 71-year-old barber to a 100-year-old café owner – who are showing little sign of letting up.

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