The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 18 October 2016

Image: Simona Granati/Getty images

Buon viaggio

Just as Italy’s export market showed an impressive 11.4 per cent growth for the month of August compared to last year, the country’s PM has got his eyes set on boosting the uptake of another kind of Italian export: its language. Opening this year’s General State of the Italian Language conference in Florence, Matteo Renzi talked of his hopes of increasing the number of people across the world who are learning Italian (now 2.3 million). For a nation of 60 million that’s quite an impressive number – and further investment in opening language schools abroad could do wonders for the nation’s soft power. Yet work on language pride might still be needed at home: the PM wants international speakers to call Italian products by their mother-tongue name – it’s parmigiano, not parmesan, for example – but famously referring to his controversial labour reform as the anglicised “jobs act” and not riforma del lavoro hardly earned him full marks.

Image: Fatih Kucuk

Back to the drawing board

Good design can do great things but can it propel Turkey and its economy beyond a tumultuous summer? That would seem to be the hope as the first Turkey Design Week kicks off tomorrow. Hong Kong-based Michael Young is flying in to talk about how he runs his studio and there’s input from several fashion labels, including Turkey’s Dice Kayak and Ezra + Tuba, as well as Finnish shoe designer Minna Parikka. It’s a line-up of very functional designers who have turned high design into viable businesses (it’s telling that the Turkish Exporters Assembly is backing the event). For those wanting a more theoretical programme, the Istanbul Design Biennial comes toward the end of the week. Its show “Are We Human”, assembled by Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, asks whether the notion of design itself must be redesigned.

Image: Getty Images

Hong Kong’s chain reaction

Despite the declining number of Chinese shoppers, the retail scene in central Hong Kong isn't as desolate as one might be led to think. French fashion house Hermès will spend the next season renovating its new flagship to double its space, while Versace is opening its Asia flagship this month (and Victoria Beckham’s will follow in March 2017). Two upmarket department stores – Harvey Nichols and Joyce – have revamped and reopened as well. Is it folly or foresight? The latest numbers indicate that the worst of it is over and that the numbers of inbound tourists, primarily from Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea and Germany, have risen 3.4 per cent in the first nine months of the year. These upmarket retailers are proving that it's wise to stay ahead.

Image: Frankfurter Buchmesse

Frankfurt exchanges

Publishers, printers and publicists from all over the world will this morning be touching down in Frankfurt ahead of tomorrow’s grand opening of the city’s Buchmesse, or Book Fair. It is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade event, with 7,100 exhibitors from more than 100 countries and about 275,000 visitors expected over the next five days. Every year the hustle and bustle of the fair’s vast hangar-like halls gives the lie to the misguided notion that the book business is on its last legs. In 2015 it was clear in Frankfurt that the industry had reached a state of equilibrium, with sales of e-readers levelling off and the number of indie bookshops on the rise again. Listen out for our coverage on Monocle 24 as we report on the publishing industry’s vital signs in 2016.

From Monocle 24

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

France’s shipping forecast

If Cromarty, Forth, Tyne and Dogger mean anything to you then you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of radio listeners who enjoy the UK shipping forecast, broadcast each night on BBC Radio Four. Like the UK equivalent, the rhythmic, almost poetic language of France’s shipping forecast has endeared it even to those who will never set foot on a yacht or trawler. But as Ian Wylie reports from Paris, budget cuts mean that the French are preparing to say au revoir to the Météo Marine.

From Monocle Films

Keeping the faith

Nestled just in from the Corsica coast sits Le Couvent de Pozzo, a converted monastery that has been brought back to life as a tranquil guesthouse by owner Emmanuelle Picon. Monocle stopped by to enjoy breathtaking views over the Tyrrhenian Sea and tuck in to some of Picon’s delicious French cuisine.

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