The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 12 November 2015

Image: Getty Images

Flying start

With crowds of photographers in attendance, live TV coverage and real-time streaming on the internet, there was no chance of missing the maiden test flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) yesterday. The first Japanese-made passenger plane in half a century left Nagoya Airport at 09.35, zipped along the Pacific Coast and landed 90 minutes later. The 92-seater jet, designed to take on the likes of Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer, is bulk-owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation. It’s been a long time coming, with several delays and development costs pushing ¥200bn (€1.5bn), but there are already more than 400 orders on the books. The MRJ90 will set customers back a cool $44m, with delivery beginning in 2017.

Image: Alamy

Tech tussle

This week officials broke ground on a new tech park that hopes to reposition Ho Chi Minh City as Southeast Asia’s Silicon Valley. Vietnam’s strength as a manufacturing hub for technology companies is widely known, with Intel and Samsung heavily invested in assembly sites. But for the nation to truly capitalise on a growing technology market, its research and development need to scale up. This is what the 52-hectare Saigon Silicon City project aims to facilitate, hoping to entice some €1.4bn of investment from global tech brands. But Ho Chi Minh City will have to fight to become Vietnam’s tech capital: Hanoi has a thriving start-up scene and outlier Da Nang is bolstered by IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative and a forward-thinking university. Both are emerging as strong contenders.

Image: Images courtesy of Apexart NYC

Planning ahead

It’s not quite preparing for the worst – but it’s not far off. While traditional design typically aims to solve existing problems, a new subgenre called “speculative design” is bringing together creatives in New York who are making future-proof items. The concept is based on the idea that it’s better to plan for the future before the horse has bolted so they have come up with objects such as a self-administered disease-testing kit. A new exhibition in New York called Alternative Unknowns runs until 19 December but its aim isn’t to scaremonger, says co-organiser Elliott P Montgomery: “We may be better off as a society if we think about our long-term futures.” Perhaps it’s wise that governments and think-tanks aren’t the only ones prophesising our future.

Tasty alternative

Flyposting is usually the preserve of concert promoters, up-and-coming musicians and those hosting garage sales. But not so in Toronto, it seems. The Cactus Club Café brand of upscale restaurants, born in Vancouver in 1988, has taken to the hoardings of construction sites across the city to promote the opening of its latest outlet. Featuring a stylised black-and-white photo of head chef Rob Feenie, the posters advertising the new Toronto location are a novel take on promoting a high-end dining brand. It’s an attempt to highlight the spontaneous, lighter side, rather than the formality that establishments such as the Cactus Club Café often evoke.

From Monocle 24

Image: Kickstarter

Kickstarter CEO Yancey Stickler on innovation

In a special edition from the Web Summit in Dublin, Daniel Giacopelli sits down with Yancey Strickler, CEO of Kickstarter, to find out why the company has reincorporated as a public-benefit corporation and what the future holds for crowdfunding.

From Monocle Films

Central Saint Martins

Central Saint Martins is flying the flag for art and design education in the UK despite short-sighted government policies. Monocle meets the principals at Stanton Williams, the architecture firm behind the college’s award-winning home.

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