The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 8 February 2016

House proud

If you want to see how uninspiring most British domestic architecture is then log on to any property search engine. Within minutes you can be virtually touring bungalows that look out of place in their muddy rural settings and supposedly high-end houses with unwise “luxury” fit-outs. Where’s the good stuff that’s designed for our times? Well, The Modern House is an agency that primarily sells architecture from the 1930s onwards (it currently has everything from a house in London’s Clerkenwell designed by David Adjaye to a piece of white 1930s splendour on the British coast by Oliver Hill). The site was founded by Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill; the latter says, “I saw there were lots of owners of interesting houses that were struggling to find the right people to sell them to, and those who wanted to buy them but didn’t know how to.” This week they are marking their 10th anniversary with a shindig – and you can buy their anniversary book too.

Image: Getty Images

Emerging market

Chinese New Year celebrations, which begin today, are as much about testing out a new business for Hong Kong’s young entrepreneurs as they are about exchanging good fortune with family and friends. As local enterprisers man booths at the Lunar New Year Fair in Victoria Park – an annual tradition comparable to the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt – students (specifically budding entrepreneurs) have also snagged spots. It’s the perfect opportunity to test out their ideas and sales acumen, alongside booksellers and florists flogging orchids and lucky tangerine trees. Those visiting the fair this year will notice a distinctive theme, driven by the political issues of the moment: last year’s must-have yellow umbrellas have been replaced by satirical caricatures of political figures and books banned in China.

Image: Alamy

Bridge too far

Bostonians are nervously watching their skyline as beloved landmarks come under threat. City officials have announced that the demolition of the Old Northern Avenue Bridge, which has spanned the Fort Point Channel for 108 years, will begin in March after years of deterioration. Though a new bridge will be built in its place, many are lamenting the loss of a historic artefact. Now there is concern over the city’s iconic Citgo sign meeting a similar fate. Boston University recently announced that it’s selling off several buildings, including its property at Kenmore Square, where the signature sign has sat for more than 50 years. Though it’s unclear if the building’s tenants – or the sign – will be affected, campaigns are mounting in opinion pieces in the Boston Globe, as well as via online groups, for the city to protect the sign with official landmark status.

Image: Getty Images

City slickers

With the signing of an investment pact on Friday, Japan and Iran have given companies on both sides the green light to resume trade. That’s a relief for resource-poor Japan, which had stopped its nuclear reactors and grown ever more dependent on imported oil after the 2011 earthquake. Tehran, which plans to boost oil shipments, has long been a key supplier to Tokyo – so key that, four years ago, Japanese officials refused to cut themselves off from Iranian oil, even as US and European nations were tightening sanctions.

From Monocle 24

Turkish wines

The past decade in Turkey has seen a boom in small, often family-run wineries opening across the country. Tune in to hear which wines are worth picking off the shelves and how Turkey’s conservative government is affecting work at the vineyards.

From Monocle Films

The Big Interview: Karl Lagerfeld

Outspoken, in demand and still at the top of his game, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld talks to Monocle’s editor in chief Tyler Brûlé about the industry, the media and why Berlin isn’t as good as it used to be.

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