The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 18 April 2016

Holiday romance

With more overseas visitors than ever entering Japan, one remote region has a novel idea for attracting tourists: Kagawa in southern Japan invited four popular romance-fiction writers from Thailand for a weeklong all-expenses-paid trip in the hope that they would be inspired to set their stories in the prefecture’s seaside towns and mountain villages. Over the past five years the number of Thai visitors to Japan has more than tripled to around 800,000 and this month’s release of Teeruk Press’s four-book series, Kagawa, Let Love Lead, at Thailand’s national book fair has already generated interest from TV producers. But it’s still too early to say whether Kagawa’s seduction strategy will work.

Growing pains

Los Angeles has long been criticised for its outdated city planning practices, which haven’t kept pace as its population has boomed. Now LA’s mayor Eric Garcetti has signalled steps to address issues that include overstretched infrastructure and a dearth of parking spaces. In his recent State of the City address, Garcetti said that city hall will be expanding its ranks of urban planners to overhaul a number of existing blueprints for how communities are developed and acknowledged that the current plans don’t meet this fast-sprawling city’s needs. Garcetti has faced heated criticism over unrestrained development across LA and, with next year’s re-election bid looming, he’ll need to make sure that his city is growing smarter and running smoother.

Pants party

Like viewing an opulent fashion fair through a set of x-ray glasses, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a pageant of corsets, briefs and lingerie design from the last 300 years. Irreverent and inspired, the exhibition continues until March 2017 and brings together more than 200 items of apparel. “Undressed’s greatest strength is its juxtaposition of the historical with the contemporary,” says curator Edwina Ehrman. “By putting together items from different eras, one realises that people are actually the same and that technology is the only difference.” The whole human spectrum is indeed showcased in male, female and gender-neutral underwear, from the ‘stays’ of an 18th-century English working woman to slinkier undergarments care of Paul Smith.

People power

The announcement that Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, dedicated to design, technology and transport, will relocate to Parramatta in the city’s west has been met with a strong backlash. Cate Blanchett is among the 10,000-strong group of Sydneysiders petitioning against the move, while Australian designer Marc Newson has said he’d never venture west to view an exhibition at the new site. The loss of the repurposed industrial building will certainly hurt central Sydney’s cultural kudos. But as Parramatta morphs into Sydney’s second CBD, injecting some vibrancy into this rapidly developing precinct is vital. The forthcoming design competition for the new Powerhouse could produce a monument that’s worthy of the fine artefacts inside and bring a little visual vigour to the neighbourhood.

From Monocle 24

Image: Andrea Wyner

Massimo Bottura

We hear three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura’s thoughts on the importance of aesthetics in cooking.

From Monocle Films

Retail special: stationery shops

A new generation of stationery entrepreneurs are preserving and reviving the art of writing. Monocle Films travels to Prague, Vancouver and London to visit three shops that share a love of paper.

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