The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 3 September 2016

Image: Marvel

Captain Canada?

With his boyish good looks, affable demeanour and certain roguish charm, it’s no surprise that Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has become a media darling and his country’s biggest soft-power ambassador. That said, most people wouldn’t expect him to grace the cover of a Marvel comic book. Decked out in boxing attire emblazoned with a maple leaf, Trudeau takes centre stage surrounded by Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight. You would be forgiven for missing Iron Man lurking at the top left-hand corner of the page. The issue is part of Civil War II: Choosing Sides, an anthology that pits Captain Marvel against Iron Man. Spoiler alert: in the boxing match between Trudeau and Tony Stark it’s not the guy with the fancy gadgets who wins.

Image: UN Photo

Parting gift

Danish lawmaker Mogens Lykketoft is about to step down from his one-year post as president of the United Nations General Assembly – but not before giving his New York office at the UN HQ a new look. True to his roots Lykketoft added a range of original Fritz Hansen pieces from the 1950s and 1960s, donated by the company to brighten the formerly dark space, which was previously finished with wood-panelled walls and heavy curtains. Overlooking Roosevelt Island and Long Island City from its perch near the East River, the office now has an Oxford desk chair and four lovely Swan chairs by Arne Jacobsen, as well as a few Poul Kjærholm pieces – including a modular PK31 chair and PK61 tables – and a subtle Kaiser Idell floor lamp. Though his successor ambassador Peter Thomson is from Fiji and won’t have the same national allegiance to Danish design, we’re confident anyone would appreciate the timeless mid-century makeover.

Image: Meccano Home

State of play

Come September the design industry reawakens across Europe and staple fair Maison & Objet, which opened yesterday in Paris, sets a lively tone for the annual grand tour of design. Even in Hall seven – the usual stomping ground for lovers of all things minimalist – colourful ornaments dominate. Subtle Scandinavian giants rub shoulders with brands at the opposite end of the spectrum, including Meccano Home which takes its cue from parent company Meccano’s steel construction toys (which have been around since the late 19th century) and presents a collection of tables, chairs and desks as playful as they come. “Sometimes people need to see life in colour,” says Meccano Home’s Caroline Boutillier.

Secret escape

The central region of Alentejo has long been dismissed as Portugal’s sparsely populated breadbasket but is now becoming known for its hospitality offerings. São Lourenço do Barrocal is an impeccable 40-room stopover in the village of Monsaraz, close to the Spanish border. The site, situated in the vicinity of fortified Roman towns, Moorish ruins and the vast Alqueva Lake, was renovated by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, who has carved out rooms, cottages and a spa from the shells of whitewashed stables and red-roofed barns. The latest addition to the estate, which has been owned by the same family for more than 200 years, is a spa overseen by Austrian organic-treatments alchemist Susanne Kaufmann. Either side of a 40-metre vaulted corridor are four treatment rooms, a dry sauna, a cedar-wood bathtub and plenty of space to exercise and unwind. If anyone asks you about Alentejo, though, do put a cork in it: the longer it remains overlooked the better for those in the know.

From Monocle 24

Frank Sinatra called it a day

In this special musically themed episode we revisit a long-forgotten chapter from the original Oz books by L Frank Baum published in 1914. Plus: Matt Wolf, theatre critic for The New York Times, discusses how musicals leapt from stage to screen and remembers Gene Wilder.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes

From warmly lit interiors to polished wood furniture, The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes is a survey of everything you need to build the residence you want. From architects to apprentices, design-shop owners to gardeners, you’ll meet inspiring people and snatch an idea or two that is built to last. Available to buy online at The Monocle Shop.

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