The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 11 February 2016

Image: Felix Odell

Raise the bar

Many trade fairs are notorious for their oft-sloppy approach to providing sustenance for visitors but that’s not the case at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Here the restaurant isn’t an afterthought: it provides food for thought, as well as for hungry patrons. The Swedish fair has been commissioning creatives to draw up its Design Bar for years but this time an architecture studio was tasked with the project. Stockholm-based firm Andreas Martin-Löf Arkitekter’s self-contained, carpet-covered nook evokes an atmosphere that isn’t traditionally Scandinavian – hitting on a trend shaping the very region’s design. “The design trend has become more European and a little less specific to Scandinavia yet at the same time we always have our own interpretation of different styles,” says Andreas Martin-Löf of the fair’s shifting aesthetics, which feature colour and playfulness borrowed from continental traditions. The bar marks the perfect spot to sit and consider the new Nordic.

Image: STM

Montréal’s metro

Earlier this week metro users in Montréal were offered a first glimpse of the revamped metro trains that will soon grace the city’s underground network. The current carriages –iconic blue-and-white numbers that were introduced 50 years ago for the 1967 World Expo in the city – will be phased out gradually and replaced with 468 new ones. Designed and built by the Bombardier-Alstom consortium at a cost of CA$1.2bn (€769m), the new Azur carriages will have greater capacity, better lighting and improved ventilation. Here’s hoping the new trains will become as treasured a part of the Montréal cityscape as their forebears were.

Image: Getty Images

Recipe for success?

Singaporean diners will receive some unconventional service this year as robots are dispatched into the nation’s hospitality industry. Chinese-made robot waiters are already serving tables at the new Rong Heng Seafood Restaurant and an artificial bellboy-and-housekeeper duo will begin tending to rooms at the Park Avenue Rochester Hotel this June. Good old-fashioned human interaction is always our preference but Singapore has seen some food-and-drink players struggling to maintain quality floor staff, partly because the well-educated population is seeking better-paying roles in a nation not naturally service-oriented. These robots, developed to perform simple tasks such as delivering dishes to tables, make for a quirky solution. We just hope industry bodies continue to search for alternative ways to entice young Singaporeans into a trade that is vital to maintaining tourism and patronage from locals.

Image: Getty Images

Stop the press

To defenders of free speech in Japan there was something ominous in internal affairs and communications minister Sanae Takaichi’s recent comment that the government could rein in broadcasters whose content wasn’t “politically neutral”. Takaichi was responding at a parliamentary committee session to an opposition lawmaker’s claim that the government is restricting freedom of speech and that official pressure on media companies might have led several outspoken TV news anchors to step down recently. In the past few years Japan has fallen on the international watchdog Reporters Without Reporters press-freedom ranking to 61st of out 180 countries, down from 22nd in 2012.

From Monocle 24

‘Positive News’

Seán Dagan Wood of ‘Positive News’ and designer Paul Blackburn sit down with Daniel Giacopelli to explain how they rebranded the 22-year-old magazine for a modern and evolving readership.

From Monocle Films

City crops

As cities fill up with more and more people, urban farming is becoming a crucial element of sustainable living. Monocle visits food entrepreneurs in Cape Town, London and Singapore who are exploring new ways of cultivating organic produce in their downtown homesteads.

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