The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 15 October 2016

Image: PA Images

The man who bought the world

The late David Bowie, beloved for his eccentric style, left behind a substantial art collection alongside colourful pieces by Italian architect and industrial designer Ettore Sottsass, all of which is to be auctioned off by Sotheby’s in November. Besides his collection of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Marcel Duchamp, the event’s biggest draw could be the assembly of geometric Memphis designs – a Milan-based movement launched by Sottsass in the 1980s. Hints of the post-modernist style have already been creeping back into the design world, as seen at this year’s Salone del Mobile, but it will most likely be Bowie’s prominence that will make the 100 pieces so desirable. Keep your eyes peeled for the wacky multi-hued Peter Shire Big Sur sofa from 1986, a highlight of the auction that’s estimated to fetch £4,000 to £6,000 (€4,400 to €6,700).

Image: Alamy

North power?

Newcastle-Gateshead in the north of England is to receive £5m (€5.5m) to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 but what this contemporary art and design showcase will do for the city remains unclear. Part of former chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse initiative, many hope that the 77-day exhibition will draw up to three million visitors and boost business in the city, which already has a rich architectural and artistic offering. There’s the Foster + Partners-designed Sage Gateshead opera house and beautifully renovated flour-mill-turned-art-gallery the Baltic, which hosted the Turner prize award in 2011. Not to mention the sculptural Wilkinson Eyre-designed Millennium Bridge and Anthony Gormley’s distinctive rust-coloured Angel of the North installation, which presides over the thoroughfare bearing visitors from the south. Newcastle-Gateshead is a fitting stage for the exhibition but such investments have already served the city well and, if we’re honest, could probably have done more for the cities it beat to the funding: Sheffield, Bradford and Blackpool.

Image: DEUTSCHLAND86

Double agent

You didn’t think that after such a cliffhanger of a series finale the producers of Deutschland 83 would pack up their scripts and lighting rigs and head off to pastures new, did you? Set three years later, Deutschland 86 sees East German agent Martin Rauch, played by Jonas Nay, banished to Africa as he waits for the cryptic call from his sultry Aunt Lenora. Set against the backdrop of western Europe’s terrorism-strewn summer of anxiety in 1986, Rauch and his Stasi crew are back to fight for communism’s last gasp across some telegenic locales, including Tripoli, Johannesburg, Paris and, of course, both halves of Berlin. But you’ll have to wait, folks; UFA Fiction has done a deal with Amazon Prime Video in Germany to screen the series in 2018. One last job? We’ll see how it ends.

Image: Mercedes-Benz

Car crash waiting to happen?

It’s an age-old philosophical problem: if an oncoming trolley is about to hit five people should you interfere and redirect it so it hits just one person instead? The team behind Mercedes-Benz’s driverless cars thinks so and has suggested that its self-driving vehicles will be programmed to prioritise the welfare of the driver and passengers beyond all else, meaning it would actively choose to hit a pedestrian rather than swerve and endanger the lives of those inside. “If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car,” says Mercedes-Benz manager of driver-assistance systems Christopher von Hugo. While the company claims that such cars are at least five to 10 years away, its position already poses more questions than it answers, from the nature of programming such an ethics code into a machine to the possibility that a legal court would deem such a feature as an inherent defect – the latter is sure to create a deluge of vexed pedestrians looking for a pay-out.

From Monocle 24

Image: Christine Plenus

The Dardennes and The Room

Two-time Palme d’Or winners the Dardenne brothers discuss their response to the surprisingly negative reaction to their latest film. Plus: Oscar winner Eva Orner explains how her new documentary caught the attention of Australia’s border force and we talk to one of the stars of famously awful film The Room.

From Monocle Films

Sydney residence: Harry and Penelope Seidler House

Far removed from the skyscrapers and residential towers for which architect Harry Seidler became known, the house he designed with his wife is governed by Bauhaus aesthetics that are just as forward-thinking today as they were in the 1960s. Monocle Films visits Penelope Seidler in her dream home.

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