The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 29 October 2016

Image: Jiahui Huang

Hotline bling

Before Google changed our lives librarians were at the service of their patrons to dole out facts and while that may seem like a thing of the past many libraries are still operating information hotlines today. A new mini-documentary by Great Big Story profiles the New York Public Library’s ‘ask a librarian hotline’, which has been in operation since 1967. Despite the expansive wealth of knowledge that the internet delivers, the NYPL receives about 30,000 calls every year – and it isn’t alone: there are similar services in Philadelphia, Denver and Montgomery County, Maryland. Some of the most interesting queries include: “What is the colour of an arctic fox’s eyes?” and “Is there a full moon every night in Acapulco?” It’s good to know that there’s still a place for these organisations.

Image: Alamy

Hawk conservation

Anyone who’s done a stint in steamy Singapore will be aware of the centrality of its hawker centres to daily life. These busy open-air food halls range in size and sophistication but are unanimously cheap, cheerful and eminently social spaces. Even the air-con-loving office workers decamp from their chilly high-rises to slurp a seafood laksa or chomp on chicken satay at Lau Pa Sat, a 19th-century hawker centre in the otherwise modern-looking area. But this age-old custom is turning stale as too few young entrepreneurs are following their families into the food business, a problem that has even seen some beloved stalls selling off their recipes to the highest bidder. But help is at hand: the Timbre+ centre opened this year with space for 21 hawker stalls and 14 restaurant brands. The firm offers incentives, training and a desirable space for young foodie entrepreneurs in the One North area, an appetising and well-worth-visiting taste of the Lion City’s enviable culinary chops.

Image: Julien Lanoo

Building a picture

London-based photography company Arcaid Images has just unveiled its shortlist for the 2016 Architecture Photography Awards. Launched in 2012, the annual prize shines a spotlight on images of buildings old and new and is divided into categories that include exteriors, interiors and striking settings. This year’s line-up sees stellar shots of some of the world’s most iconic monuments but also of more modest structures. In Helsinki Sebastian Weiss has snapped the needle-like tower at the 1932 Olympic Stadium; in icy Winnipeg Paul Turang has captured a lime-green warming hut; and Matt Emmett has ventured into the bowels of London to take his mesmerising image of the Finsbury Park Reservoir. The photos are on display at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin from 16 to 18 November.

Image: Faye Sakura Rentoule

Living dead

The Royal Academy’s idea of having an important living Belgian artist curate a show by an important dead Belgian artist has made for interesting results. Both men grew up outside of the main cosmopolitan event – Luc Tuymans (pictured) in Morstel and James Ensor in Ostend – and both paint their take on reality knowing that everyone knows a different reality. Ensor is regarded as an early surrealist and a fan of the macabre but Tuymans sees him as a realist, almost a portraitist, with a healthy understanding of flesh and blood and what lies beneath. Expect lurid colours, skeletal clowns, fish out of water and strange self-portraits in a memorable crash course in what makes two masters tick. For more on this show and Tuymans’ career tune into ‘The Big Interview’ with Luc Tuymans tomorrow on Monocle 24.

From Monocle 24

Image: Davide Genco

Halloween and ‘The Handmaiden’

Recorded at the Grossmünster church in Zürich, we spend Halloween with South Korean film-maker Park Chan-wook, discussing his new erotic thriller ‘The Handmaiden’. Plus: a visit to an abandoned amusement park, the works of Edgar Allan Poe and investigating a haunting at Melbourne’s Astor Theatre.

From Monocle Films

Orgatec 2016

There were many new faces at this year’s Orgatec in Köln. Artek, Piure and Normann Copenhagen celebrated their debut at the biennial office-furniture fair, while long-time leader Vitra took over an entire hall for the first time and transformed the space into a holistic new fair concept. Here are the designs that caught our eye across Koelnmesse’s seven halls.

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