The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 28 October 2015

Image: Getty Images

Clever thinking

One of China’s richest men plans to bring new meaning to the smart city. Yan Jiehe, a former teacher and founder of China Pacific Construction Group, is funnelling €35bn into a new city in Shanwei, south China. But only the rich – in mind as well as money – will be invited to own a property in his education-focused development. The controversial move comes at a pivotal moment in China’s urbanisation; according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 75 per cent of Chinese people will live in cities by 2050. “Mega projects are necessary for national ambition,” says Dr Lin Hao, director of architecture firm the Oval Partnership, “but my concern is how it can really solve the needs and desires of people for open space, green landscapes and communities.”

Image: Getty Images

Standing tall

Volkswagen may still be reeling from its emissions scandal but figures released this week by Munich-based think-tank Ifo suggest confidence is still high across much of the German economy. Ifo’s business-climate index, based on a monthly survey of around 7,000 firms, dipped to 108.2 in October from 108.5 in September – a far better outcome than expected. “While most carmakers are expecting a dip in exports, domestic sales will stay strong,” says Ifo’s Dr Klaus Wohlrabe. “For the German consumer, a performance-related issue would have been terrible; Volkswagen’s scandal is bad but not severe.” Volkswagen still has to deal with being overtaken by Toyota as the world’s biggest car manufacturer – and that was before the scandal set in.

Image: Alamy

In a pickle

It sounds like a jar of vegetables preserved in vinegar. In fact it is a cross between tennis, ping-pong and badminton and has been described as one of the US’s fastest-growing sports. Pickleball was founded in 1965 by Washington State congressman Joel Pritchard and friends; the name was taken from his spaniel Pickles, who used to chase after the ball. “The game is easy for anyone, making it popular among the senior community,” says Janet Valentine, office operations manager at Pickle-Ball Inc, a Seattle-based equipment manufacturer. “But the younger crowd has suddenly become interested.” Valentine says sales have doubled in the past two years and according to the USA Pickleball Association, the number of playing sites has almost risen by the same amount since 2010.

Image: Dubai Design Week

Gulf dream

Not to be outdone by other international design destinations, the United Arab Emirates is getting in on the act with the inaugural Dubai Design Week. The aim? “To leverage Dubai’s position as a global meeting point and create an event that is a place of global discovery as well as providing an international stage for regional designers,” says Cyril Zammit, the director of design at Art Dubai Group, which owns and manages the event. Highlights include the beachside geometric installation "Yaroof" by Dubai designer Aljoud Lootah, an “Iconic City” focus on Beirut and also the Abwab pavilions, where six countries from the Middle East and North Africa explore the theme of “games” through various different works. But in a market saturated with design fairs, the ultimate proof will be whether buyers travel to the region.

From Monocle 24

Image: Courtesy of The Photographers' Gallery

25 years of Photoshop

This year marks the 25th birthday of Photoshop, Adobe’s groundbreaking picture-editing software. Henry Rees-Sheridan finds out more about its impact on the photo industry.

From Monocle Films

Boom and gloom

Kashgar may look like any other Chinese town but the city is riven with ethnic tensions. Monocle visits a frontier where tradition is clashing with change.

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