The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 4 February 2016

Image: Getty Images

Going, going…

As Japan moves towards the end of the financial year, local governments and even the National Tax Agency are clearing out their cupboards and holding sales of unwanted and confiscated goods via online auction site Yahoo Japan. More than 5,000 items, ranging from fire engines to DVD box sets, are up for grabs. The tax office is selling a Phantom Rolls-Royce for ¥10m (€77,000) and a two-carat diamond ring for ¥1.6m (€12,000); Chiba Prefecture had a Toyota forklift truck for ¥870,000 (€6,700) – though that’s been sold already, unfortunately. Anyone prepared to scour the site might just find something to alleviate their disappointment regarding the forklift, be it a classic Luxman tube amplifier or a Boston bag from Louis Vuitton.

Artistic interpretation

While New York's catwalks are displaying designers' latest lines during Men's Fashion Week, cult shoe brand Feit has decided to showcase its product at the New Museum. The brand has collaborated with the director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Benjamin Millepied, composer Nicholas Britell, director Jack Riccobono and installation artist Jordana Maisie to make “Man vs Machine”, a one-off audio-visual production contrasting automated mass-production techniques against the graceful movements of a master craftsman who produces Feit's covetable shoes. The installation, which combines film and live demonstration, celebrates traditional craftsmanship and the skill involved in making a shoe by hand. As the number of shoes produced globally doubles every 20 years, Feit's installation is a welcome nod to painstaking yet worthwhile artistry; the presentation is on view today per request through the New Museum.

Rum deal

As the détente between Cuba and the US continues, other clashes have heated up – notably the battle over who owns the Havana Club trademark. Though Cubaexport, a state-owned company, owns the trademark in the rest of the world, Bacardi has sold its own brand of Havana Club rum in the US for decades. But last month the US government stripped Bacardi of the Havana Club trademark, allowing Cuba to register it again in the US. The caveat? The trade embargo that prevents Cuba from peddling its own roncito in the US – for now. As Bacardi has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the US Department of Treasury this week, purportedly to get to the bottom of the trademark change, we can expect the booze brawl to continue.

Image: Louis Porter

Brewing nicely

Diplomats from Jakarta’s Australian Embassy are enjoying a taste of home as Melbourne coffee pioneer St Ali expands into Indonesia. St Ali has partnered with Indonesian company Common Grounds to open a chic 125-seater café in the embassy district this week. The business melds local flavours with the quality service and recipes that have kept its brand relevant in Melbourne for more than a decade. “For a very long time Aussies looked abroad for inspiration but in café culture Melbourne leads the renaissance globally,” says St Ali owner Salvatore Malatesta. He’s currently in Bali, which just so happens to be where the business is eyeing up a second Indonesian outlet. St Ali has previously made moves in the UK and the US; Malatesta says Australia’s trade minister Andrew Robb is now promoting his team as “poster boys” for Australia-Indonesia business relations.

From Monocle 24

James Bidwell of SpringWise

James Bidwell, CEO of SpringWise, on how the company uses a global network of 19,000 people in 180 countries to hunt down the world’s most innovative ideas.

From Monocle Films

A taste of Sicily

Sicily is a stunning Mediterranean destination – and not least for its food. Monocle Films goes on a culinary tour of the island and drops in on a cooking school that promotes traditional food producers and seasonal recipes.

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