The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 8 December 2016

Image: Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images

Open invitation?

Mexico’s leftist political party Morena is open to anyone according to its leader, but there are some exceptions. Preparations are already well underway for presidential elections in 2018 and Morena leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as Amlo, has emerged as a clear contender. On a recent tour of the centre of the country he said that there were two choices – being on the side of the power mafia or being on the side of the people – and that anyone could join the ranks of his party, whether politician or member of the public. Everyone, that is, except for failed right-wing leaders Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and the current embattled president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Image: Hugo Glendinning

Hadid’s London legacy

The calligraphic drawings, notebooks and sketches of the late venerated Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid go on display at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London’s Hyde Park today. Hadid had been a trustee of the Serpentine Gallery and designed the inaugural Serpentine Pavilion in 2000, as one of her first works in London. A stone’s throw away, the opening of the mathematics gallery at the London Science Museum marks the first of Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) UK-based projects to open after her death. According to ZHA the Winton Gallery was “conceived as a wind tunnel for the largest object in the gallery: a Handley Page aircraft from 1929 [around which] the space follows the lines of airflow in a stunning display of imagined aerodynamics”.

Image: IKEA

Gift aid

The staff at Swedish brand Ikea are going to have an especially merry Christmas this year with the furniture giant offering a £1,200 (€1,400) bonus for long-time employees as it wraps up a year of terrific growth. Success in China has spearheaded a 20 per cent rise in profits in 2016 and the brand is not about to rest on its laurels. This year it made the headlines with PR-friendly and innovative designs, such as its prototype refugee shelter and Sladda, a flatpack bicycle. The years ahead will see a more concrete change to Ikea’s business approach: CEO Peter Agnefjäll recently announced plans to bring the brand closer to urban centres as parts of multi-purpose developments, where Ikea shops will sit alongside hotels and offices.

Image: Connie Ma

Herb homage

The Japanese food-and-restaurant website Gurunavi – which has 57 million monthly users – just announced its third annual dish of the year. The prize, designed to offer a snapshot of culinary tastes in Japan, has been awarded to pak chee (coriander) cuisine. Why coriander? “Previously confined to use as an ‘ethnic’ condiment and seasoning,” says the website, “coriander now takes the lead in various dishes.” Citing its starring role in everything from salads and hotpots to cocktails and desserts, Gurunavi adds that food manufacturers are now devising instant foods and snacks with the herb in it. Coriander has become so popular that a new Japanese word has been created to describe pak chee fans: pakuchisuto. This year’s runner-up was Japanese wine, with more awards handed out to in-vogue dishes such as “innovative gyoza” and the drink of the summer, “sweet malted amazake”.

From Monocle 24

Field day

In 2003, after a globetrotting career as a broadcast journalist, Nancy Durham and her philosopher husband planted a lavender field on their Welsh farm. What began as a passion project evolved into a much-loved company that distills lavender oil to create creams, balms and chocolate, all inspired by Welsh hill farmers. Durham tells Daniel Giacopelli about her transition from journalist to farmer, as well as mistakes made and lessons learned.

From Monocle Films

Building better cities

To draw Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference to a close this year, our editor Andrew Tuck took an in-depth look at how metropolises are changing around the world and posed some fundamental questions to get city-planners thinking.

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