The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 2 February 2016

Image: Jens Liebchen

Pen to paper

Germany’s annual stationery fair Paperworld brings together 1,600 exhibitors from more than 60 countries and is ample reassurance that the simple pleasures of a sturdy pencil or a finely wrought pen are not going anywhere. “The more you use and touch screens, the more you want to write on paper and, for example, leave a personal note – we see this as very encouraging,” says Caran d’Ache’s CEO Jean-François de Saussure. “I think people need to get back to basics from time to time and that is what is supporting our development both in the writing and colour business.” While the continued absence of stationery giants such as Faber-Castell and Montblanc was noted at the Frankfurt fair, there was a batch of newcomers turning heads, especially Vienna-based Moduletto with its stripped-down diaries.

Image: Getty Images

Risky business

Business is brisk at the Scenic Route Bakery in Des Moines, Iowa, after Hillary and Chelsea Clinton stopped in for breakfast as one of the final stops on a dizzying campaign tour of the state, ahead of this year’s caucuses. Every four years Iowa’s hospitality and service industries see something of a purple patch as caucus season rolls around. Yet despite fully booked hotels, car-rental companies at capacity and bars and restaurants propped up by campaign folk and the world’s media, the long-term economic impact is minimal. “I’ve had one or two extra people come in,” says Ann Harmon, owner of the From Our Hands gift shop and gallery in Des Moines’ East Village neighbourhood. “But it’s the cafés and restaurants that tend to do best from the caucuses.” In 2008, the last time a non-incumbent ran for the White House, the caucuses brought $11m (€10m) into the state; for Iowa’s $129bn (€118bn) GDP, it’s a drop in the ocean.

Image: Getty Images

Balancing tact

Japanese policymakers are worried that the country’s shrinking population and rising number of pensioners will hamper the domestic economy. Meanwhile, young people continue to flock to Tokyo and population decline is hitting remote areas the hardest. An ongoing decentralisation plan attempts to shore up the economy by reinvigorating small and far-flung cities and towns with investment. But the latest figures aren’t promising: only eight of the country’s 47 prefectures had a net population inflow last year and four of those are in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. The government aims to have as many people moving away from Tokyo and its bedroom communities as those migrating to the capital by 2020 – but persuading people to opt for a slower lifestyle isn’t proving so easy.

Image: Muhammad Fadli

Bandung’s best

Bandung is already Indonesia’s top university city and now it is aiming to up its credentials as a regional powerhouse for design too. With architects flocking to Bandung to do business, the latest move sees Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid’s firm designing its new theatre. While the deal was secured at a provincial government level there’s little doubt that architect-turned-mayor Ridwan Kamil had a keen hand in making it happen. Hadid’s team met with Kamil over the weekend to discuss how the landmark will integrate into a city already teeming with beautiful civic spaces initiated by the progressive mayor. There have been suggestions that the design of the playhouse will take inspiration from batik prints found in West Java – and it's probably a wise move after the architect’s plans for the Olympic stadium in Tokyo were vetoed when some locals decided it was not a good fit.

From Monocle 24

Image: Sundance Institute

Sundance Film Festival 2016: Creating the festival

The Sundance Film Festival is the largest celebration of US independent film in the country and a chance for movie lovers and industry types to flock en masse to Park City.

From Monocle Films

The Nordic embassies, Berlin

The Nordic nations’ Berlin embassies share one of the world’s most architecturally unique buildings. Monocle Films learns how careful thinking about architecture and design is helping these nations punch above their weight in the German capital.

Loading...

/

15

15

Live

00:00 01:00