The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 18 August 2016

Image: Getty Images

Highs and lows

Japan has a lot of airports – nearly 100 dot the archipelago – but while half of these are equipped to handle international flights only a few get more than five flights a day. To boost business for the country’s regional and far-flung airfields the Japanese government is lowering landing fees for international flights this year and next. The idea is that savings for airlines will encourage them to add direct and international flights to smaller Japanese cities, which might in turn ease the logjam at airports in Japan’s big cities and popular getaway destinations. It could also help transportation officials with another problem: how to accommodate more international flights without building new runways as the country tries to attract 40 million travellers from abroad annually by 2020.

Image: Rooftop Films

Hitting the roof

New York may be basking in an extended heat wave but the sweltering humidity isn’t putting anyone off heading outdoors to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the city’s most successful cultural institutions, Rooftop Films. Since starting small in 1997 the organisation has annually been heading to rooftops across the city – and despite the name the odd sea-level courtyard – and this summer has brought more than 200 films to some 30,000 people. The 2016 series wraps up this Saturday at the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with a collection of short films. Wondering what wins the prize for the quirkiest flick? Probably Alex Haas’s Glove, the story of a (you guessed it) glove that has been floating in space since 1968.

Image: Getty Images

On your bike

Blessed with long summers, mild winters and well-developed roads, on paper Australian cities seem like ideal locations for cycle-sharing schemes. However, bike-share infrastructure rolled out in Melbourne and Brisbane has failed to make its mark with both city dwellers and tourists. The strict helmet laws (and lack of supplied helmets) is one of numerous factors deterring the use of these systems and the city government of Brisbane has taken criticism for pouring taxpayer funds into its underused, expansive network of lanes. This week the cumbersome registration process – putting many potential users off – has been addressed as part of a major revamp of Brisbane’s eight-year-old CityCycle service. But so far along the road these changes may be too little too late to save what could have been a winning initiative in this sunny part of the world.

Image: Studio Periphery/Airbnb

Eye for design

Airbnb has a tense relationship with Japan – it’s illegal for Japanese residents to rent out their homes via the website in some prefectures – but the company is cannily using design as a way to engage with the nation. Airbnb has just opened the doors to its new office in Shinjuku, Tokyo, dreamed up by local firm Suppose Design Office. The light-filled space nods to traditional Japanese culture, with communal benches reminiscent of those found in Tokyo’s parks and engawa wood-panelled floors covered in tatami (rice straw) mats. This sleek office is the latest in a string of Japan-based design projects for Airbnb. The business recently launched in-house design studio Samara, whose first task involved collaborating with architect Go Hasegawa to present a communal wooden-house prototype at Tokyo’s esteemed House Vision exhibition. The company’s rental services may be frowned upon in much of the country but it’s certainly finding other ways to make its presence felt.

From Monocle 24

Image: Emilio García

Aegean Summit: how to build a media brand

Amid paywalls, platforms and advertising woes, few media outlets have cracked the code required to create a successful, sustainable and profitable business model. The Aegean Summit, a new conference in Athens, is looking to the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean for guidance on best practice. We meet with the event’s organiser, talk to the founders of media start-ups from Cairo, Kuwait and Beirut and visit the office of independent Greek media company AthensLive.

From Monocle Films

Montevideo: broad horizons

With its intriguing mix of grand colonial boulevards, art deco façades and buzzing plazas, Uruguay’s capital is emerging as a beacon of creativity and democracy in Latin America. Monocle’s Tomos Lewis and photographer Ana Cuba travelled to Montevideo to find out more about Latam’s most liveable, lovable and liberal capital.

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