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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 25 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

Better apart?

Catalonia could take one more step towards independence on Sunday when it votes for a new regional parliament. The election has seen the two main pro-independence parties – one on the left, the other to the right – join together. Simply winning a majority, however sweeping, won’t necessarily lead to independence for the autonomous region. The rest of Spain wants Catalonia to stay and is in no mood to compromise. Independence supporters should take heart from their Scottish counterparts who used regional election victories to push for a binding referendum. Though that vote was lost last year, the movement has grown only stronger and in an era where identity is becoming more powerful than ideology, secessionists may eventually have the upper hand.

Image: iStock

New connections

Napoleon was exiled there, Charles Darwin stopped off briefly on HMS Beagle and the nearest mainland is 2,000km away. But St Helena, one of Britain’s most remote outposts in the South Atlantic, may at last be looking at a tourism upswing. On Tuesday, the first plane to land on the island touched down on a newly laid runway and further tests are underway ahead of the opening of a new airport in February. Currently the island is only accessible by boat, serviced by the UK’s last working Royal Mail ship. Saints, as the locals are known, are eagerly anticipating the update to their economy but whether the island’s peaceful, time-warp isolation will stay quite so unblemished remains to be seen.

Image: Kerstin Roßkopp/Lufthansa

Wi-fi in the sky

Lufthansa has thrown down the gauntlet: the German flag-carrier will be Europe’s first airline to offer wi-fi on short- and medium-haul flights, promising a sprightly high-speed service by Deutsche Telekom and British company Inmarsat via satellite. It’s the latest push to give Lufthansa the edge on low-cost carriers – premium economy, its first new travel class in 35 years when it launched last November, has now been rolled out across its long-haul fleet. But the wi-fi launch really puts the heat on Lufthansa’s competitors in Europe. “This was inevitable and the rest, such as British Airways, will follow soon,” says David Learmount, consulting editor at aviation website Flightglobal. “It’s an expensive service to run, however, and you could be paying handsomely.”

The hot seat

The oldest way to get a rise out of the design community is to ask, “Just how many chair designs does the world really need?” Well, until we are ready to rule out the benefits of a well-designed perch for seated pondering – or discount sedentary innovation altogether – then the answer remains: quite a lot. This week, UK furniture manufacturer Ercol launched the rather lovely Flow Chair by Japanese designer and architect Tomoko Azumi. “I want customers to test its long-life design,” says Azumi, seated atop her beautifully curved beechwood product. The chair’s slim and stackable frame, coupled with its gracious form, might well make this a future classic.

From Monocle 24

Image: Andrea Ciambra

Build, 2015

On The Urbanist this week we report from the Build conference in Bilbao, where inclusion was one of the key items on the agenda: how do you ensure everyone has fair access as a city grows?

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Restaurant Awards

For Monocle’s first ever Restaurant Awards our editorial team whipped up a list of places we would go back to for the food, hospitality, great chefs, old-school staff, lively manner and perfect dining rooms.

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