The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 22 January 2016

Hidden gem

The oft-overlooked south Australian island of Tasmania has already had a busy 2016. This week the eighth annual Mona Festival of Music and Art (and yes, they refer to Mona Foma as Mofo) drew to a successful close, hot on the heels of the annual Taste of Tasmania food festival that ran until early January. Organised by David Walsh, founder of the much-recommended Mona (Museum of Old and New Art), Mofo included a performance from The Flaming Lips and a subversive exhibition by the UK artists Gilbert & George that will occupy the Mona until late March. From its food producers to its music events, Tasmania is tantalising a new generation of visitors eager to pack their cultural calendar with the isolated frontier’s now-enviable offerings.

Sunny delight

With the oil trade stuck in the doldrums it’s time the Gulf states turned their eyes skyward: the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) has released a report highlighting the potential economic benefits for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations if they set their sights on solar. Beyond the forecasts concerning a reduced carbon footprint, the report also details potential profits that leaders should keep in mind. According to Irena, 140,000 jobs could be created each year across the GCC if renewable technology (including waste-to-energy and wind) was deployed on a grand scale. An enhanced renewable policy could also be a leg-up for regional companies. Just this week, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy firm Masdar revealed that it has been contracted to build a 200-megawatt solar power plant in Jordan. A new focus for the region could make for an altogether sunnier state of affairs.

City craft

The Toronto Design Offsite Festival is underway, a weeklong affair that sees firms launching new showcases, to tease out the best design the city has to offer. The Design Exchange museum is exploring the relationship between what we eat and the aesthetics of dining environments in an exhibition called Dinner By Design. Meanwhile, Scandinavian-Japanese inspired homeware shop and gallery Mjölk is rolling out a pair of impeccably crafted pendant lamps – a collaboration with Japanese designer Oji Masanori. There’s also the marquee event, the Interior Design Show, that brings together domestic and global talents; this year's guest of honour is Tom Dixon. For more from the festival, check in with Monocle 24’s Section D.

Animal collective

When it comes to city living it’s important to establish how to be a good neighbour. And a newly released version of the illustrated children’s book The Brownstone, revised from the 1972 original, is available to do just that. The book comes from illustrator Stan Mack and Paula Scher, a trailblazing graphic designer and the first-ever female partner at design firm Pentagram. Through the eyes of Mr Bear and his neighbours – tap-dancing kangaroos, a piano-playing cat and some pungent swine – the story paints a picture of how very different creatures can coexist in New York’s tight quarters. Though it’s a story meant for children, in our increasingly urban world its lessons on neighbourliness are just as applicable to adults.

From Monocle 24

‘Recoded City’ and participatory placemaking

​We begin by ​unpacking the term “transformative urbanism” and examine the ways we can change the built environment – as well as some scrappy bits of unbuilt land. These topics are at the heart of a newly released book called Recoded City: Co-creating Urban Futures. Andrew Tuck chats with one of the authors, the urbanist Thomas Ermacora.

From Monocle Films

The perfect workplace

As employers increasingly acknowledge the welfare of their workers, Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference in Lisbon addressed the topic of the modern workplace. In this visual essay Josh Fehnert explores what can be done to create offices that make it a joy to clock in.

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