The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 2 October 2015

Image: Getty Images

Not up for debate

Argentina’s first-ever presidential debate is due to take place this Sunday but it may go ahead without Daniel Scioli, the front runner in the polls who is backed by current president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The other five candidates, including Scioli’s main opponent Mauricio Macri, have all said they will show up for a debate that will air across several TV channels and online. Organisers have threatened to place an empty chair on stage where Scioli would have sat. “Scioli has ducked the challenge and Argentina’s emerging democracy is weaker for it,” says Declan McGarvey, a foreign correspondent based in Buenos Aires. “Transparency and accountability before the electorate are the real losers here.”

Image: Getty Images

Home and away

The Japanese government has invested a lot in attracting visitors from overseas: its goal is to reach 20 million per year by 2020. But a trip to last weekend’s Jata Tourism Expo Japan – a major event on the tourism-industry calendar – revealed that most prefectural governments were targeting domestic tourists rather than foreigners. This wasn’t surprising given how much Japanese people travel within the country. This year travel agent JTB predicts 290 million trips will be made by domestic tourists who will spend upwards of ¥9.78trn (€72.7bn); impressive numbers in a country whose population hovers around 127 million. Most prefectures still operate on the assumption that travellers from overseas will spend their time and money in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka, not the hinterland. Changing this mindset will take time.

Image: Getty Images

Strike a pose

Courrèges, the iconic French brand from the 1960s known for pioneering the miniskirt, has returned to the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. In an unusual move, Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, the new creative directors of the house, took to the stage before the show at the Opéra Bastille to introduce themselves. The relaunch of the brand founded by André and Coqueline Courrèges was lauded for its new designs while retaining its well-known geometric aesthetics. Another highlight this week is that Carine Roitfeld, former editor of Paris Vogue and one of the world’s biggest fashion names, has launched her collection for Uniqlo. The fast-fashion brand is known for its unique collaborations with designers such as Ines de la Fressange and Jil Sander.

Image: Ronald Tilleman

Gimmick or game-changer?

The way we work is changing and many employers – with your best interest at heart, no doubt – are exploring the role of architecture in making workers more productive. Deloitte’s Amsterdam headquarters are one such envelope-pushing new opening. The Edge is reportedly the most sustainable building in the world and comes complete with an app that allows you to select light and temperature preferences as you move through the building. A system of 28,000 sensors track your movements, toilet breaks are monitored and cleaning is focused on the most-walked corridors. Perhaps most sinister is that the on-site gym uses the energy you expend on your workout to power the building. Far from a gimmick, the Edge may be the future of sustainability. That said, there’s something about the maniacal data-gathering that seems intrusive and impersonal. Sadly, productive as it is, the building doesn’t work for us.

From Monocle 24

Image: GMF | BUILD 2015

Cleveland: Race and changing the status quo

The discussion on equality at the Build conference in Bilbao touched on race relations and income disparity. We spoke to Jeff Johnson, president of the Baltimore-based strategy firm JIJ Communications, who works to shine a spotlight on issues affecting African-Americans in the US. He highlighted how empowering a community can be essential in changing the status quo.

From Monocle Films

Urban growth: Solitair tree nursery

Cities are often seen as the flipside of nature: synthetic, sleek and sometimes impersonal. For places that pine after being greener, the Solitair tree nursery provides a blueprint. Monocle travels to Belgium to visit it and discover the value of investing in the future.

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