The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 20 October 2016

Image: Frankfurt Buchmesse

Honour roll

The 68th edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair wraps up on Sunday. This year the fair’s guest of honour is Flanders and the Netherlands so of course many stellar Dutch and Flemish writers are in town, including author and columnist Arnon Grünberg, who writes for one of the nation’s main papers, De Volkskrant. “As a guest of honour I don’t feel like a representative of the Netherlands but it’s undeniable that you play a certain role in representing your country,” he says. “Every author should experience the fair at least once so he knows how he’s being talked about.” Next year’s guest of honour will be France but the Canadians are already starting preparations too: the nation was recently announced as the guest of honour for 2020.

Image: Andrew Davies/Alamy

Bike trader

With the world of fitness becoming an increasingly luxurious marketplace it should come as no surprise that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is racing towards buying Italian bike brand Pinarello. Originally hand-assembled in Italy, Pinarello’s bicycles – which have propelled many a yellow-jersey wearer over the Tour de France finish line – have remained top of the range since the 1950s but in that time sales have typically been to cycling enthusiasts. LVMH seems to believe that high-end bike splurges are now as likely to come from an aspirational athletic market with disposable wealth as from the pros. With extravagant spending on wellness becoming increasingly commonplace, this seems to be a shrewd move. Especially seeing as fitness brands are already having a field day in big markets – and that includes China, where sportswear sales are expected to overtake luxury purchases by 2020.

Image: Bi Yuu

Day of the designer

As Mexico City gears up for the appointment of World Design Capital 2018, the country’s design scene seems unstoppable. This month saw the return of Design Week Mexico, which featured more than 100 events, from exhibitions to temporary installations, including the selection of Germany as a special “guest country” to foster collaborations between the nation and local craftsmen. Then came Caravana Americana, which wrapped up on 16 October at Expo Reforma in Mexico City and featured roundtable talks, food and stalls featuring everything from jewellery to furniture. It will be interesting to see if the Mexican market can move from artisanal offerings to large-scale industrial design in the coming years.

Image: Bang Clemme Film & Openhouse

View from the top

Sky’s the Limit is a new exhibition turning its eye to the pioneering work of Chicago architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Som) at the Utzon Centre in Aalborg, Denmark. Founded in 1936, Som has built a reputation as the master of tall towers thanks to structures such as New York’s boxy skyscraper Lever House and Dubai’s needle-like Burj Khalifa, which stands as the world’s tallest building at 828 metres. At the Utzon Center – a curving silver creation that was designed by Jørn Utzon and is an architectural masterpiece in its own right – visitors can peruse sketches, renderings and scale models of Som’s projects. “What we find interesting about Som is the close co-operation between the engineer and the architect when building skyscrapers: how they use technology to optimise the construction and minimise the materials,” says the Utzon Center’s Matilde Kiib. “We wanted to show the engineering side of skyscrapers as well as the aesthetics.”

From Monocle 24

Walk Japan

Paul Christie graduated from university in London in the early 1980s and now runs Walk Japan, one of the country’s most respected tour operators. He shares his journey and insights into the global travel sector.

From Monocle Films

Neighbourhood: La Candelaria

As part of our series on neighbourhoods in transition, Monocle Films visits Candelaria in Bogotá. The oldest part of Colombia’s capital is unique in that it’s home to a mix of social classes and more and more people are moving here – Colombians as well as foreigners. We meet the architects, artists, landscapers and hairdressers who are making La Candelaria a centre of creativity and enterprise.

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