The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 13 August 2016

Going Dutch

Amsterdam’s hotel scene has received another tasteful update to its lodging options: next week marks the opening of Hotel V on Fizeaustraat, in Watergraafsmeer to the city’s southeast. Close to Amstel Station, the hotel sits in an austere-looking modernist pile designed by architect Piet Zanstra. But Hotel V isn’t the only place worth resting your head in if you’re in town. The 56-year-old Pulitzer hotel in the city’s Nine Streets neighbourhood also reopened earlier this year; the canalside space includes 25 connected townhouses and will have 225 rooms when the overhaul is completed this autumn. Coupled with the opening of the W Hotel and The Hoxton’s first venue outside London, which both opened last year, it’s clear there’s room for everyone in the Dutch capital’s unreserved hospitality scene.

Image: Brian Hazell

Man of letters

Peter Blake’s Alphabets, Letters and Numbers exhibition, which opens today at Sussex’s modernist De La Warr Pavilion, is a joy to behold for the typographically inclined. That said, inspired by the British pop-art pioneer’s fascination with both alphabets and vintage lettering, the three print series on show will not only fascinate graphic-design devotees. Realised over the course of 25 years, his Alphabet, An Alphabet, and Appropriated Alphabets series spans “I for Idols” – a silk-screen print of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe – to “The Letter F”, a collage of fonts and colourful illustrations. The collated curiosities have the nostalgic charm of childhood collections, with a little touch of eeriness (see “U is for Unusual People”) and just the right amount of cheek.

Image: Noah Kalina

Sands of time

Last year Washington’s National Building Museum was filled with a sea of translucent plastic balls for an interactive installation called “The Beach”. Designed by Snarkitecture – one of the US’s most dynamic design firms, which blurs the lines between art and architecture – “The Beach” is back. Free and open to the public, this year’s edition is on show at Tampa’s Amalie Arena until 25 August and is almost twice the size of the original, with 1.2 million plastic balls and 23 metres of “shoreline”. It was the Vinik Family Foundation – led by sports tycoon Jeff Vinick and his wife Penny – who tapped Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham of Snarkitecture to launch in Florida and there are now plans for the installation to go on a city tour.

Image: W. W. Norton

Chapter and verse

For 2,000 years readers have derived pleasure from cracking the spine of a new book – and the fact that they have survived in physical form throughout millennia of technological advances is something worth celebrating. That’s exactly what English author Keith Houston has done with his latest volume, The Book, which will be released this month. This witty and mischievous tome traces the evolution from papyrus to paperback in 448 pages. It’s an optimistic ode to one of mankind’s greatest inventions, which continues to thrive even against the onslaught of e-readers.

From Monocle 24

Like they did in the ’80s

They really don’t make movies like they used to – but why? Author Hadley Freeman explains how changing corporate structures brought a virtual end to real mainstream cinema. Plus: Australian film-maker Abe Forsythe on why Sydney’s infamous race riots make the perfect basis for a comedy and a look at Studio Ghibli’s stunning reissue of 1991’s Only Yesterday.

From Monocle Films

Worn again: French shoe-makers

A global master in shoe manufacturing, France has weathered the industry’s decline and its artisans are now taking centre stage once more. Monocle Films introduces its favourite sole bearers.

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