The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 20 April 2016

Image: FLYDOG

Guard dogs

Yesterday saw the eighth iteration of the two-day Security and Counter Terror Expo kick off in London’s Olympia conference centre. While an abundance of robotic and digital defence technologies signalled the continuing trend towards the automation and dehumanisation of security, more traditional methods of protection were also on show. Flydog is a Turkish company that works with security dogs. At its training facility 90km outside of Istanbul, dogs and handlers alike negotiate earthquake-ruin and aircraft-interior simulations. There’s even a swimming pool to prepare for maritime rescue scenarios. But in terms of security, in our world of machines what does man’s best friend have to offer? In addition to being cheaper to maintain, Tony Foster, director of operations for UK canine security firm RFA, says that canines are actually better equipped in some cases when it comes to finding security risks: “They’re mobile and they can detect smaller amounts of explosives.”

Image: IFA Berlin

Show and tell

A new three-day trade fair opening in Shenzhen today signals a significant shift in direction for retail in China. The inaugural Consumer Electronics China event, organised by Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) Berlin, is backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is looking to create its own version of the Consumer Electronics Show hosted in Las Vegas every January. “Online retailers in China realise the importance of store experience because people want to see, touch and test products in real life,” says Jens Heitecker, executive director of IFA. China watchers will be looking for an insight into the health of the world’s second largest economy but the event’s organisers are not worried. Heithecker says, “greater China has the fastest growing middle-class demand for brands and sophisticated products.”

Image: Steve Russell/Getty Images

Syrian isolation

Though Canada has thrown open its doors to Syrians, it has also halved its number of honorary consulates for the country. Nelly Kanou, a pharmacist and businesswoman, was appointed Syria’s honorary consul to Montréal in 2008. Yet this week it emerged, via a letter from Canada’s foreign ministry obtained by Radio-Canada, that Kanou was stripped of her title and the consul was closed five weeks ago without explanation. When Syria’s ambassador to Canada was expelled in 2012, in response to Damascus’s crackdown on mass protests in Syria during the Arab Spring uprisings, it was only the honorary consuls who were allowed to remain given that their roles were deemed administrative rather than diplomatic. Kanou, however, has long been a vocal supporter of president Bashar al-Assad. With the mysterious closure of Montréal’s location, Vancouver is now the last remaining Syrian consulate in North America.

Image: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Indie publishing

Indonesia’s publishing industry continues to gain momentum overseas with the inclusion of one of the country's rising literary stars in the Man Booker International Prize longlist. Though Eka Kurniawan’s novel Man Tiger missed out on the final shortlist announced last week his recognition by the high-profile literary prize is another significant milestone after the country’s guest of honour status at Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015. According to Laura Prinsloo, a member of the Indonesian Publishers Association and director of Jakarta-based publishing company Kesaint Blanc, 30 publishers went to Germany and received interest from foreign publishers for hundreds of titles. “If I talk to anyone in the industry they sound very positive – being guest of honour has given us loads of confidence,” says Prinsloo. As for Eka, there is always next year: English-language rights to his new novel, Love and Vengeance, due out in 2017, have already been snapped up by publishers in the UK, US and Australia.

From Monocle 24

Image: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Piero Lissoni and Patricia Urquiola

Milan may attract the world’s press, party set and furniture industry’s biggest names but sometimes a homegrown perspective can help make sense of the melee. Josh Fehnert picks the brains of Milan-based architect and designer Piero Lissoni and talks to designer Patricia Urqiola about her latest collection Moroso at Salone del Mobile 2016, which concluded last week.

From Monocle Films

Salone del Mobile: Best in show

Salone del Mobile, the furniture world’s premier event, saw record attendance for its 2016 edition in Milan. Monocle Films visited the fair and showrooms throughout the city to discover the highlights.

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