The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 13 April 2016

Image: Getty Images

Small wonder

Many design-minded fairgoers at this year’s Salone del Mobile forego the packed halls of the Rho Fiera for a breezy stroll around one of Milan’s many design districts. But once you’ve ticked off Brera, Tortona and Spazio Rossana Orlandi, keep going: 5vie is a ’hood that’s caught many off-guard with its small but well-conceived selection of exhibitions. There’s a lot to see but for the best head to the Palazzo Litta (a jaw-dropping venue in its own right) for Swiss technology firm Punkt’s promising showcase of student work from Ecal. There’s also a colourful new collection of stacking chairs from Antwerp-based Valerie Objects and a classy edit of Belgian designers to watch. It’s a small venue that sums up what Milan is best at: fresh ideas in an age-old setting that’s wonderful to behold and blissfully easy to navigate. Not something that can be said about many of the city’s more established design districts.

Image: Robert Cutts

Stopping traffic

Topkapi Palace was home to Istanbul’s sultans for about 400 years and now, on a good year, has 3.5 million visitors heading to its harem – but the museum site is looking a bit unsteady these days. A wall overlooking Gulhane Park collapsed earlier this month, killing two passers-by, and the regular calls for reinforcement of the imperial grounds are more urgent than ever. The Marmaray cross-continent underground metro rumbles through the neighbourhood and heavy traffic is regularly backed up on the surrounding coastal highway. It has led Ilber Ortayli, a previous director of the museum, to call for a moratorium on the roads, which he believes have contributed to the shaky infrastructure. Extreme perhaps but Istanbul would do well to keep its second-most visited site sturdy at a tricky moment for the city’s tourism industry.

Image: Jeon Han/Republic of Korea

Dramatic effect

South Korea’s cultural export industry looks to be in rude health. The latest smash-hit drama, Descendants of the Sun, has so far clocked up more than two billion views in China and prompted the national law-enforcement agency to issue a playful public-health warning about the risks of infatuation with the lead actors. This is a rare South Korean drama in that it has been entirely pre-recorded, enabling all 16 episodes to be approved by Chinese censors and streamed simultaneously in South Korea and China. As fans all over Asia prepare for the season finale this week, the South Korean government has wasted no time in appointing the show’s male star Song Joong-ki as an ambassador to promote tourism and culture. Earlier this week Song toured a government-backed food-themed promotion centre in Seoul alongside one of his newest fans: president Park Geun-hye.

Image: Parker Knight

Just the ticket

Monday’s edition of The Seattle Times included a rather handy etiquette guide to riding a public bus. Don’t wear large backpacks, the paper warned. Also: don’t cuddle; don’t take up more than one seat; don’t eat smelly food; and definitely “no grooming” for those accustomed to applying their make-up on public transport. This might all sound rather scolding but never was there a better time to hone in on the behaviour of Seattle’s bus ridership. Newly released figures show that more Seattelites are using the bus than ever before, making it the second most bus-reliant city in the US after San Francisco. The data comes as the push to lessen car traffic in the city continues apace and, if an increasingly bustling bus network is anything to go by, city hall’s strategy seems to be paying off. But please, mind where you put your feet.

From Monocle 24

Image: Dennis Gilbert

Angela Brady

Angela Brady OBE is a Dublin-born architect who in 2011 was elected president of the UK’s Royal Institute of British Architects. Now director of London-based Brady Mallalieu architects, she has been an outspoken advocate of getting more women into the industry.

From Monocle Films

Singapore art scene

Singapore isn’t used to letting people do whatever they want and thus it has been stuck with a moribund art scene. The opening of the new National Gallery, however, aims to change perceptions of the city-state both at home and abroad; Monocle Films takes a tour.

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