The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 1 March 2016

Image: Weston Wells

Eyes for design

From today, music-lovers will have the chance to buy a unique pair of summer shades, first online and then in selected Australian and Kiwi retailers. New York eyewear brand Moscot has teamed up with Australia’s leading independent music company Future Classic to create two pairs of limited-edition sunglasses called Lemtosh and Yukel. Only 200 units of the former and 100 of the latter will be produced, so indie fans from Paddington to Ponsonby will have to be speedy. Future Classic’s roster includes artists such as Flume, Chet Faker and Wave Racer – worth knowing, as each limited-edition frame comes complete with a mix-tape (though in a modern, downloadable form) put together by the record label. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Image: Yayoi Arimoto

Tokyo’s new leaf

After a year-long hiatus the Tokyo International Literary Festival (Tilf) is returning on 2 March, with five days of lectures, discussions, exhibitions and film screenings at venues across the Japanese capital. A newcomer to the global literary-festival circuit, Tilf launched in 2013 and has given the Japanese public a rare chance to hear from western writers they may only know in translation. For visiting US and European editors, one question tops the agenda: who is the next Haruki Murakami? (Murakami is, predictably, a no-show.) Young Japanese writers will be well-represented, with headliners Fuminori Nakamura, Mieko Kawakami and Masatsugu Ono; Ono was the winner of last year’s Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s top award for new fiction writers. The guest list is solid – with Americans Seth Fried and Yiyun Li and Norwegian literary sensation Karl Ove Knausgaard – but even in a country where bookshops are still going strong it will likely be another few years before the festival gets the turnout it deserves.

Image: Getty Images

Grow with the flow

As the tech industry in Southeast Asia continues to boom, shared workspaces are on the rise. Start-ups in the region attracted $1.6bn (€1.47bn) worth of investment in 2015, a 43 per cent leap from 2014. A young and digitally savvy Southeast Asian population with an increasing amount of wealth is spurring this growth – and co-working hubs are now taking off. Though they’re common overseas the shared workspaces popping up in Southeast Asia are also catering to the region’s specific needs. In rapidly ageing Singapore, for example, building a rich start-up community while also increasing birth rates is of national concern. One new business providing an interesting solution is Trehaus. The co-working space, launched in late January, offers busy mum and dad entrepreneurs and their kids a cosy supportive working environment, leaving few excuses for them to stop growing both their businesses and their families.

Image: Getty Images

Runaway gender roles

As Milan Fashion Week winds down and the industry prepares for Paris's edition, which begins today, we're taking stock of the season. A highlight of the autumn/winter collections so far comes from Miuccia Prada, which married corsets – a symbol of femininity – with masculine fabrics and sailor hats. This is evocative of a wider fashion trend that reflects the current cultural movement to liberate and deconstruct gender roles. The young Milan-based brand Blazé, which specialises in blazers for women, is also very much in line with the zeitgeist. “We like to call our pieces ‘borrowed from the boys’,” says co-founder Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri. “Today’s woman needs to have a piece that makes her feel at ease wherever she is.” The spectacle is set to continue in Paris, where Finnish label Aalto and France’s Y/Project will show their menswear-inspired collections. Look out for more fashion week coverage on the Minute.

From Monocle 24

Pretentiousness: Dan Fox tells us why it matters

Robert Bound meets Dan Fox, author of a new book called Pretentiousness: Why It Matters. Now there’s a good title – and a really good idea. Fox is talking about social mobility: how a working-class boy who appreciates the avant garde might well be improving his life. “We should encourage these people,” says Fox, “not pillory them as pretentious.”

From Monocle Films

Sydney Residence: Harry and Penelope Seidler House

Far removed from the skyscrapers and residential towers for which architect Harry Seidler became known, the house he designed with his wife is governed by Bauhaus aesthetics that are just as forward-thinking today as they were in the 1960s. Monocle Films visits Penelope Seidler in her dream home.

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