The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 7 June 2016

Image: Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images

Rough waters

The diplomatic spat bubbling away in the South China Sea dominated headlines in the lead-up to US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit to China. However, as Kerry heads into the second of a two-day stay in Beijing today, the focus should shift towards another area where the superpowers struggle to find common ground: trade. In March the Obama administration imposed a 266 per cent tariff on some Chinese steel in an effort to stop what it calls “dumping” (selling below cost), which the Chinese deny doing. Such tariffs would become trickier to impose if China gained market-economy status at the World Trade Organisation, something it covets but that the US is hoping to block. Manmade islands aside, choppy waters lie ahead.

Image: Åke E:son Lindman

Special relationship

They may often be pitted as rivals in matters of fashion but France and Italy know how to join forces when it comes to furniture design. Not only are they linked by strong market ties – France is the largest sales market for Italian-made furniture – but they often collaborate in creative matters too, with French firms and designers often teaming up with Italian brands. Now the inaugural Design@Farnese exhibition, organised by the French embassy in Rome and set in its spectacular seat in the Palazzo Farnese (pictured), opens tomorrow to celebrate this relationship. About 30 French designers, architects and interior decorators will show projects manufactured between Italy and France across three of the palazzo’s grand halls. Among the 50 pieces on show are products from French heavyweight Hermès and Italian staple Poltrona Frau, created by both established and up-and-coming designers. The exhibition continues until 20 September.

Image: Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images

Power move

Turkey’s position among its neighbours could be the key to keeping its economy spritely. The country has already become a go-to for infrastructure in the region, building airports throughout the Gulf and rail routes in Africa. The news that Turkish firm Unit International will build seven gas-fired power plants in Iran to the tune of $4.2bn (€3.7bn) – thought to be the largest foreign investment since sanctions on Iran started to lift in January – is perhaps a sign of things to come. During Iran’s long isolation Turkey maintained a liberal visa regime that kept traffic between the countries flowing. For the nationwide reboot in infrastructure that Iran sorely needs, expect Turks to be among the first to the table.

Image: Burgermac

Bad news?

We’re big fans of news kiosks at Monocle and Paris has long set the standard in charming design when it comes to these stands of streetside convenience. It’s not surprising then that the city’s plan to redesign and replace its 360 kiosks has sparked backlash among residents of the French capital. The current design of the green-domed kiosks dates back to the 19th century and the street furniture has become as quintessentially Parisian as the city’s Haussmann buildings. The new kiosks are scheduled to be rolled out between June 2017 and June 2019, and will have room to offer a wider variety of items beyond newspapers and magazines, including phone-charging services and takeaway drinks. In the face of the backlash a petition to stop the change has attracted more than 35,000 signatures but the city has emphasised that the stands need to be redesigned to provide more comfortable working spaces for kiosk operators and maintains that it has yet to settle on a final design.

From Monocle 24

Image: Marsha Arnold

Peter Florence on making Hay

Peter Florence founded Hay Festival with his father Norman in 1988 and it has since become one of the most celebrated literary events in the world, with Bill Clinton once describing it as “the Woodstock of the mind”. We meet Peter to discuss how he’s taken a market town in the Brecon Beacons worldwide.

From Monocle Films

A taste of Sicily

Sicily is a stunning Mediterranean destination – and not least for its food. Monocle Films goes on a culinary tour of the island and drops in on a cooking school that promotes traditional food producers and seasonal recipes.

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