The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 23 January 2016

Image: Michael Weber

Topical questions

Picking a theme for a tradeshow can be a useful exercise in spotlighting a trend. That said, if the theme is too far-fetched it can feel like a label has been forced upon exhibitors too varied to be tamed. Parisian furniture fair Maison & Objet opened its doors yesterday with “Wild” as the title for its annual exhibition. It may seem at odds with the sleek design of many of the featured pieces yet the focus on natural spontaneity isn't actually incongruous. As concerns about sustainability feature on more and more designers' agendas, being mindful of the environment often involves learning how to make the most of raw materials. From emerging designer Jonas Edvard experimenting with limestone for comely lampshades and side tables to new Japanese label Plywood Laboratory’s method of making laminated paper look like wood for its desk accessories, the new generation is moving off the beaten track.

Image: Mikaela Burstow

Final verdict

The rule of law is considered one of the founding principles of a well-ordered society so the construction of courthouses is not a task to be taken lightly. In the West Bank, Bethlehem architecture firm AAU Anastas has turned to Toronto's Kleinfeldt Mychajlowycz Architects (KMA) to lend a helping hand in building two justice centres in the cities of Toulkarem and Hebron. The recently completed building in Toulkarem comprises two four-storey shoe-box-shaped structures and AAU Anastas has judiciously employed indigenous stone and outfitted the façade with rows of windows to infuse the interiors with natural light. Construction for the Hebron version will start early next year.

Image: Matthew Williams

Philly stake

The world is chock-full of well-designed hotels and apartment buildings but there are very few homely intermediaries. Roost, a young business in Philadelphia, is changing that with its welcoming extended-stay apartments designed by architectural heavyweight Morris Adjmi. Targeting urbanites on the move, Roost has just done a soft launch of its second location in Philadelphia's desirable Rittenhouse neighbourhood. Thoughtful details make the space feel almost like home while guests look into setting up more permanent digs. There are plenty of plants, cosy furniture and bicycles on-site as well as a 24-hour concierge, all meant to help ease the transition to a new city. “We’ve created a living environment designed to help someone focus and adapt to living in unfamiliar surroundings,” says co-founder Randall T Cook.

Image: Ronald Livieri

Built to last?

The battle for architectural preservation is a constant in New York and the latest space to be under threat is Pritzker Prize-winner Kevin Roche's interior of the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge. Located in what’s now the One UN New York hotel, the mirrored lounge and restaurant stand as one of the few examples of late modernism left in the city. “The problem with almost any architecture is that it is subject to being destroyed at any moment in time,” says Roche. “Think of all the buildings that have been destroyed in New York. As time goes by, because of the commercial pressure, that's just the reality of building anywhere.” There is one ray of hope: advocates have filed a late request to landmark the interior, though it’s a rarely granted form of protection.

From Monocle 24

Image: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is the world's home of independent cinema and a key launching pad for emerging talent – but it’s also a crucial pot-stirrer for issues the mainstream wouldn’t touch. In this special edition we hear from the festival's director of programming and discuss some past stand-out titles worth revisiting.

From Monocle Films

Art is Therapy

Art is about more than just a nice painting: it can be a tool for understanding the many brushstrokes of life. So says philosopher Alain de Botton, who co-curated an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam called Art is Therapy. Monocle's Culture editor Robert Bound met De Botton in the museum to learn more about his artistic treatment.

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