The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 22 September 2016

Image: Teo Zi Tong

Breathe easy

The rich and varied architecture that has sprung up across Singapore in recent years is a testament to the region’s rapid economic growth. However, it’s often overlooked by the residents themselves. Since 2007 Archifest has attempted to engage everyday Singaporeans and design enthusiasts from around the region with the city state’s wondrous built environment. This year’s theme of “Exhale” encourages Singaporeans to slow down a little and take in their surroundings. Kicking off tomorrow, more than 30 events, including architecture walking tours, will interpret the theme across Singapore. Meanwhile, local firm DP Architects has provided a focal point for the festival with a pavilion composed entirely of construction-site materials. The hard-to-miss design in downtown Raffles Place Park comments on the continual urban gentrification of Singapore, highlighting and recycling the materials required for its rapid development.

Image: Noriko Hayashi/Getty Images

Manga mania

Japanese publishers, ever on the lookout for the next big thing, have alighted on an unlikely boom: educational manga. A spike in sales of history comics was kick-started in 2013 by a bestselling novel about a school dunce who is transformed into a top student in record time. Keen readers spotted a reference to publisher Shogakukan’s 23-volume manga series on Japanese history and sales promptly rocketed. When the book became a hit film – Biri Gyaru (or Flying Colours as it’s called in English) – sales doubled. Other publishers have now got in on the act, rereleasing old editions with fresh covers and adding new titles to the genre. Kadokawa has sold more than two million copies of its Japanese history manga series in just over a year while Shueisha’s history series has been given a makeover with new artwork and will go on sale in October. Sanseido, a venerable bookshop in Tokyo’s Jimbocho district, reports that grandparents have been buying multiple volumes of manga for their grandchildren.

Image: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Pretty in pink

After a spirited London Fashion Week the show is continuing in Milan. Italy’s premier womenswear gala went off with a bang yesterday: in one of the most anticipated shows Alessandro Michele staged Gucci’s last ever women’s event (like many houses, from next season Gucci will present its men’s and womenswear collections together). Under smoky pink lighting, models showed ornately decorated silk blouses, bags printed with cheetah spots and retro pink-checked jackets. The next eagerly anticipated show on the schedule is Prada; taking place later today it will see Miuccia Prada dabble with the see-now-buy-now model by making a selection of accessories available as soon as the catwalk proceedings are over. Looks like Milan is picking up right where London – and Burberry – left off.

Image: Michelle & Chris Gerard

Urban renewal

The rust-belt city of Detroit, which declared bankruptcy in 2013, has recently been experiencing something of an art-and-design resurgence – and homegrown retailer Shinola has been synonymous with its rebirth. Founded in 2011 the brand, known for its leather goods, now has shops around the world and is about to take a giant leap into the unknown. By autumn 2018 Shinola is set to open its first hotel in downtown Detroit in collaboration with Bedrock. The hotel, which is to have some 130 rooms, will draw on the best design that Detroit has to offer, working with Gachot Studios and Kraemer Design Group. Shinola is clearly banking on Detroit’s resurgence not slowing down any time soon.

From Monocle 24

Designing the simple life

In an age of digital distraction and constant interruption one company is taking a stand for minimalism through good design. Punkt. is a Swiss brand that creates products to simplify our frenetic lives. Its latest creation is a mobile phone that does just two things: make calls and send texts. But is this minimalism for the sake of minimalism or is Punkt. really onto something? We meet Petter Neby, the company’s CEO and founder, to find out.

From Monocle Films

City crops

As cities fill up with more and more people, urban farming is becoming a crucial element of sustainable living. Monocle Films visits food entrepreneurs in Cape Town, London and Singapore who are exploring new ways of cultivating organic produce in their downtown homesteads.

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