The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 2 June 2016

Image: Janne Moren

At your convenience

A survey by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry last year revealed that seven million people in Japan, many of them elderly, struggle to make it to the shops – one million more than in 2010. As the country’s population of retirees grows, the government is looking at ways to ease their daily lives. Current zoning regulations restrict where shops can be built in certain residential areas, meaning that seniors with limited mobility can find it difficult to shop and pay bills. Now the government plans to ease building laws to allow konbini (convenience stores) to move in. Japan’s konbini serve an increasingly vital role in communities, offering somewhere to withdraw money, collect deliveries and buy necessities. The government has said that certain conditions will have to be met before the shops can move in – including the consent of the residents.

Growth spurt

Colourful Amsterdam design house Moooi has completed step two of its three-stage global expansion by unveiling a new showroom in London’s Fitzrovia district. Last year the company opened a shop in New York and in two weeks it will do the same in Tokyo. Though the company has increased turnover by 20 per cent annually for the past seven years, Moooi has been careful to manage its foray abroad. “A lot of monobrand shops are boring because they have a flat visual identity,” says co-founder and creative director Marcel Wanders. “But we want to find new ways to make our presence felt and our collection is complete enough to work in its own environment.” The Fitzrovia showroom certainly isn’t flat: wooden ledges create a homely feel at the front of the shop, while the space is filled with an eclectic mix of pieces that include Joost van Bleiswijk’s Meccano-like lamps and Wanders’ pretty Delftware ceramics.

Image: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Flight plans

The aviation industry’s major players have touched down in Dublin for the International Air Transport Association (Iata) AGM and World Air Transport Summit. The three-day affair brings together the chief executives of Iata’s 260 member airlines – which account for more than 80 per cent of total air traffic – as well as government ministers and leading aircraft manufacturers. Each year the event aims to not only solidify coherent positions on issues such as carbon emissions but also to pinpoint any upcoming industry turbulence. High on the agenda this year will be safety, with the EgyptAir crash and the attacks on Brussels Airport still looming large. Yet the big issue for many delegates is certain to be Iata’s industry forecast for profits, which will be revealed later today. Though the group predicted a boost in profits across the industry in December, a slowdown in passenger demand for April could see that prediction fail to take off.

Paving the way

Design shop Naiise is smashing the tired retail mould in Singapore, having evolved from an e-commerce platform that supports talent into a mini bricks-and-mortar empire. It has opened six shops in the past 18 months and the latest, a gigantic flagship, opens its doors tomorrow. The brand has proven to be a risk-taker in Singapore’s gloomy retail climate: few shops in the Lion City would dedicate large amounts of floor space to a well-stocked workshop that allows visitors to step into the artisan’s shoes. This is one of numerous experiential features within the new shop, which spans the size of three tennis courts. Singaporeans’ love for the company is reflected back by Naiise itself: each shop dedicates more than 60 per cent of space to homegrown products.

From Monocle 24

From start-up whiz-kid to restaurateur

In San Francisco an ex-marketing executive at Google is creating a restaurant focused on cuisine from the Eastern Mediterranean. We discuss the transition with Azar Hashem in the run-up to the opening of Tawla SF.

From Monocle Films

Japanese mascots

As their cutesy cartoon profiles – and fanbases – continue to soar, Japan’s cuddly collection of corporate mascots has come to inhabit a central part of the nation’s identity. Monocle Films meets these celebrated creations and the people who bring them to life.

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