The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 27 April 2016

Image: Alan Porritt/Getty Images

Change of plan, Japan

In 2014, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his then Australian counterpart Tony Abbott were reigniting their two nations’ relationship with a tour around the Outback and New Zealand. At that point, Japan must have felt confident that it would win a multibillion-dollar contract to build a new submarine fleet to replace Australia’s ageing Collins-class subs. But Abbott has long since gone and the new prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, yesterday awarded the contract to France. A key reason for the French success was its promise to build the subs in South Australia; it also helped that French naval shipbuilding group DCNS has experience building submarines in India and collaborating with Malaysia on submarine technology. What this means for the Japan-Australia relationship is unclear: Turnbull has so far been less effusive towards Tokyo than his predecessor. Time, perhaps, for Canberra to show a little love.

Image: Alexi Hobbs

Take-off for Iran?

Ever since sanctions against Iran were lifted earlier this year, aeroplane manufacturers Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier have been taking turns calling in on the country. In January, Iran Air placed an order for 118 Airbus planes and Boeing executives were in Tehran earlier this month hawking their aircraft. Hot on their heels, Bombardier chairman Pierre Beaudoin concluded a visit to the Iranian island of Qeshm last week, where a new airline is in the works. On Saturday the industry-news portal Aviation Iran reported that a memorandum of understanding has been signed between the two sides but Bombardier has been coy. Though the company has since denied committing to helping launch a new airline, saying only that delegates from the world’s third largest aircraft producer were “visiting more often”, it seems clear that everyone is eager to get on board with Iran.

Taiwan’s talking

Taiwanese like to groan about the local media and its fixation on celebrity over international news but a disgruntled group of Taipei creatives has decided to offer something of substance. Talk to Taiwan is a politically charged talk show that launched at the end of 2015 during the build-up to the presidential elections. Interviews are filmed in a downtown magazine library called Boven and broadcast live on Thursday evenings online. IF Office and JL Design are among the design firms behind its slick production and eye-catching visuals. “We want to break new ground with a cool show that combines serious in-depth interviews about policy with citizen participation,” says Chang Tieh-chih, a respected journalist and host of the show. The second series began this month and the team is currently preparing to grill its most prominent guest to date: Chang San-cheng, the outgoing premier of Taiwan.

Just CNN’s type

Here’s a news update: CNN now has its very own font. The cable network has created CNN Sans, a typeface that bears a striking similarity to Helvetica and is now rolling out on air, online and on the company’s promotional material. The font, which comes in more than 30 weights and styles, is clean and attractive – again, it’s very similar to Helvetica. Yet it lacks any distinctive characteristic that would make the font notable from a branding perspective; few people are likely to associate it with the network. However, the typeface is surely a sound business decision for the media company: by creating its own font, and more importantly owning the licence outright, CNN will likely save a bundle in licensing fees as the company won’t have to pay to use already existing fonts.

From Monocle 24

Image: Thomas Mailaender

Enduring appeal

It’s no secret that we’ve got a soft spot for print at Monocle. So we kick off this week’s episode with magazine editor and design consultant Katie Treggiden, who takes us through her pick of new design titles and waxes lyrical on print’s enduring appeal.

From Monocle Films

Taiwan’s turning tide

Under the leadership of a progressive mayor, Kaohsiung in the south of Taiwan is no longer the neglected sibling of capital Taipei. With its harbour being redeveloped and its infrastructure refreshed, the city is a fine example of how to balance culture, industry and liveability.

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