The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 31 October 2015

Image: Muji

Hut homes

Anyone thinking of building a weekend bolthole should have a look at Muji’s inspiring new idea for rustic living. Instead of sprawling mansions and manicured lawns, the Japanese retailer has come up with three prototypes for the humble hut. All have been designed by top product designers: one in cork by Jasper Morrison, another in wood by Naoto Fukasawa and a third in aluminium by Konstantin Grcic. With the largest at just 35 sq m these are places to think, sleep and escape the clutter of daily life. The hideaways are on display until 3 November in the green surrounds of Tokyo Midtown and coincide with Tokyo’s annual Design Week.

Image: Alexandre Delbos

Moving in

Luxury brand Fendi’s new headquarters opened last week on the outskirts of its native city of Rome. Nothing unusual there, except that the firm’s change of address is not to any ordinary building: Fendi renovated the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (Palace of Italian Civilisation). Built at the height of Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime, it served as the architectural centrepiece of his new EUR district. “The building represents a vision that was fortunately never realised,” ArchDaily editor James Taylor-Foster told Monocle 24. Despite much criticism – mainly from outside Italy – Fendi’s CEO Pietro Beccari is adamant the building no longer retains fascist connotations. “It is a masterpiece of architecture,” he says.

Image: iStock

Artist wanted

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is taking a unique approach to making his city more liveable: the mayor is currently inviting applications from artists for the position of “Creative Catalyst”. Embedded in the Department of Transportation, the role is key to a project to reduce traffic fatalities. As part of LA’s Back to Basics plan, the Creative Catalyst will “develop creative intervention strategies” and “serve as a model to stimulate creative thinking and innovative projects”. The plan, organised by the Department of Cultural Affairs, will eventually place artists in other city departments, in an attempt to use out-of-the-box solutions for urban problems.

Image: Jeff Kubina

Write on

The 18th edition of the multilingual Singapore Writers Festival kicked off on Friday. More than 240 of the island’s best and emerging novelists, poets and wordsmiths are gathering at the Civic District to host activities such as readings, panel discussions and even songwriting workshops. Revolving around the theme of “Island of Dreams”, this year’s festivities include a performance event for the first time, called Dimensions & Demons. Audiences can witness writers and musicians, such as native poet Daren Shiau and indie synth-pop band Riot !n Magenta, collaborate on original compositions. “Singapore’s literary scene is a colourful polyphony of voices across languages and social backgrounds,” says festival director Yeow Kai Chai.

From Monocle 24

Image: Rosino

Rio de Janeiro – digital city

Tune in to The Urbanist to discover how Rio de Janeiro is gearing up its digital strategy ahead of the Olympics .

From Monocle Films

Tea Emporiums

The perfect hot drink is not always an espresso or a flat white: more and more speciality stores around the world are opening their doors to tea aficionados in search of the perfect brew. Monocle films visits three emporiums in Berlin, New York and London dedicated to the heritage, ritual and taste of tea.

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