The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 3 February 2016

Image: Flurina Rothenberger

Bright idea

We’ve long lamented the decline of the incandescent bulb (take a look at our report on Swiss company Righi Licht in issue 88). The flat, harsh light of an LED simply can’t compete with the warm glow of a traditional light bulb, even if they are wasteful (more than 95 per cent of the energy they use tends to vanish as heat). But now out-of-favour filaments look to be making a comeback. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown that by surrounding the metal coil with a photonic crystal structure, energy that would be lost as heat can be bounced back to the coil and therefore saved. This “light recycling” innovation will, we hope, lead to renewed demand for the humble filament bulb and spell the end of those cold and clinical LEDs.

Image: Getty Images

Brussels tussle

The campaign to decide whether the UK stays in the EU or heads off into the sunset has begun, unofficially at least, with the publication of David Cameron’s deal. The prime minister hopes it will be ratified by the rest of the EU in two weeks, allowing him to set a referendum date of June 23. The question now is whether the "leave" campaign can excite the public; early suggestions are that it will be a struggle. This has always been a problem for the better-off-out brigade: most Brits feel pretty ambivalent about their nation’s membership of the EU. Those in the "remain" camp won’t mind: a reliance on economic issues and the fear of the unknown should help them get over the line.

Image: HERZOG & DE MEURON

Constable paintings?

Crime levels in Hong Kong may have fallen for a ninth successive year but the overseers of the city’s latest heritage restoration project aren’t taking any chances. The first residents of Tai Kwun, an eagerly anticipated art and cultural centre set to open later this year inside the old central police station in Soho, will be the Hong Kong police. The boys and girls in blue will police from a small 24-hour service centre in the colonial-era complex a decade after it was decommissioned and subsequently revitalised by an international team of architects from Herzog & de Meuron, Purcell and Rocco Design. Alas, low crime does not equate to sleeping on the job: the new centre backs right onto the party-end of Hollywood Road and Lan Kwai Fong.

Image: Getty Images

Just the ticket

Too often public transport can be frustratingly disjointed within just a single city but Helsinki and Tallinn may have set a new benchmark with a transit policy that spans not only cities but countries as well. Finland and Estonia’s capitals, which are only 80km apart, are developing a joint ticketing system that would introduce one transport card for use in either city across all public services. “It would mean less worrying about which ticket to buy or how,” says Estonia’s economic and infrastructure minister Kristen Michal. The new system will be put into practice next year and was announced after Michal met with ministers from across the Nordic countries to discuss new ways in which these neighbouring nations can create more cohesive transport services.

From Monocle 24

Image: François Cavelier

A report from Maison & Objet

Chiara Rimella brings us a special report from furniture and homeware tradeshow Maison & Objet, an important stop-off before the big releases that are usually saved for the Milan furniture fair come April.

From Monocle Films

Worn Again - French shoe-makers

Do you want to wear the best-made shoes in the world? Then you need to visit a quiet corner of France that has become the home of luxury shoe-making. Here's how it happened.

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