The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 30 April 2016

Image: Felix Odell

Touch wood

We’re all for wooden buildings at Monocle and Swedish firm Folkhem has done wonderful work in the field. That said, a growing interest in timber-framed high-rises is worth pondering (pictured) . PLP Architecture and Cambridge University recently floated a concept for a 300-metre wooden skyscraper to be added to London’s Barbican centre, which they suggested may transform the way we build in the city. This is fine, as long as developers and planners don’t sneak through ill-conceived and ugly structures under the banner of progress. For now Treet – a 14-storey building in Bergen – is set to become the world’s tallest wooden structure. Its timber construction, however, was the accidental byproduct of a regulatory demand and not driven by a desire for sustainability. No bad thing in itself but it’s worth going against the grain to suggest that innovation doesn’t always equate to good design. A wooden high-rise should be subject to the same scrutiny as any other.

Happy snappers

It’s a good time for Polaroid lovers. The month-long international festival Expolaroid – co-founded by an artistic collective in Nantes and now in the final weekend of its fourth edition – has established itself as a global frenzy with exhibitions, galleries and contests in countries such as France, Spain, Italy, China, Canada, Hungary and Romania. After its curtains fall next week the Polaroid Festival will open at the Espace des Arts sans Frontières in Paris, running from 5 to 15 May. One highlight will be “Le Tour du Monde en 80 Polas”, a collection that takes audiences on a world tour via Polaroids. “There is a return to analogue photography for the value of photographs themselves and because the technique today is still so operable,” says the Paris festival’s organiser Clément Grosjean.

Image: Alamy

Budapest’s bid

Alongside Rome, Paris and Los Angeles, Budapest is one of the four cities bidding to host the Olympic Games in 2024. The Hungarian capital is the latest to reveal its logo: a water-inspired design that references the fact that it is the “city of spas” and has the most thermal water springs of any capital city in the world. Despite the hype that tends to surround the bid logos, the design that is initially submitted is often quite different to what ultimately makes it to the podium. “It’s a difficult brief and often results in something that is hamstrung as it is literally designed by committee,” says Chris Moody, creative director at London brand agency Wolff Olins. The challenge of appealing to all of the people means any forward-looking ideas often become diluted in favour of a more familiar visual language. So what makes a great Olympic logo? “The visual expressions that have longevity and resonance are the ones that create anticipation at the start of the race, soundtrack the experience itself and act as a reminder once it has passed.”

Image: Denis Farley

Modern men

North America has Alfred H Barr Jr and Philip Johnson – Moma's founding director and curator of architecture respectively – to thank for introducing Bauhaus to the continent. During the early 1930s the museum hosted a series of then-cutting-edge exhibitions, among them Modern Architecture: International Exhibition and Machine Art, revolutionising the way Americans thought of design. From now until August the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts will pay homage to these visionaries with its own exhibition. Partners in Design: Alfred H Barr Jr and Philip Johnson celebrates modern design with more than 70 case studies of furniture, fabric and industrial design. Besides featuring a re-creation of Machine Art and a survey of the development of modernism in the US, the exhibition also offers a peephole into the private living spaces of both Barr and Johnson.

From Monocle 24

Tarkovsky and the old west

How did the work of Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky inspire London’s stunning Curzon Bloomsbury? We ask Takero Shimazaki, the architect behind the design. We also catch up with the 82-year-old star of Tarkovsky’s 1986 masterpiece The Sacrifice. Plus: the first US film shot in Cuba since 1959 and Natalie Portman goes west in Jane Got a Gun.

From Monocle Films

Womenswear heroes

In a saturated market it can be hard to find original fashion that doesn’t scream or shout. Monocle Films visits a trio of womenswear designers in London, Brussels and Copenhagen that are daring women to dress differently. All three share a strong sense of identity and an uncompromising eye for detail.

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