The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 27 January 2017

Road to ruin?

Bangkok’s streets are sites of pilgrimage for those seeking out the best bamee noodles, cheap homeware or handbags of dubious origin. But the capital’s municipality is on a mission to reclaim the pavement from hawkers and rejig its image as a business city, with the blessing of the ruling military junta. From the absence of roadside cobblers to the disappearance of steaming pad carts, the sweep is already evident in and around downtown, where some of the busiest Skytrain stations have seen their vendors move on. The same thing happened in Singapore in the 1960s when Lee Kuan Yew’s “clean and green” strategy relocated street vendors inside government-built hawker centres. It’s a solution that worked there but some cities still need a bit of grit – and nothing says open for business like a proper street economy.

Building a reputation

Cast your mind to the most architecturally inspiring cities in the US and you might land on Miami, Los Angeles or Chicago. What’s less likely to crop up on your list is Columbus in the state of Indiana – yet the city probably has one of the largest collections of modern architecture edifices per capita in the country. These buildings, designed by the likes of Eero Saarinen and James Polshek, provide the backdrop to a new film: currently showing at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, Columbus examines how physical structures can provide emotional benchmarks in our lives. The drama’s South Korean-born director, known by the pseudonym Kogonada, is causing a serious splash with his feature directorial debut, which artfully captures the city’s vernacular.

Shine a light

London’s Tate Modern will stay open until 22.00 today as its Tate Late event series kicks off. Sponsored by Japanese retailer Uniqlo, it is focused on attracting visitors to the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition but will also feature DJ sets and visual-arts displays. The series may help the Tate improve its visitor numbers, which fell last year. And it isn’t alone: visitors to government-funded museums and galleries across the UK have dropped for the first time in almost a decade. Obviously these institutions will be prompted to up their game in the face of the findings and we’ll also be following the progress of London’s new night tsar, Amy Lamé. With her background in the arts, let’s see if her efforts to infuse more cultural offerings into the night-time economy can aid the nation’s iconic art institutions.

C’est chic

This week fashion's finest convened at Maison Schiaparelli in Paris to hear who’s made it onto the list of finalists for the annual International Festival of Fashion and Photography, set to take place in Hyères from 27 April to 1 May. Festival director Jean-Pierre Blanc announced the appointment of Bertrand Guyon – creative director of Maison Schiaparelli – as this edition’s president and released the names of its 10 finalists; among them are Hermione Flynn from New Zealand, South Korean Hyunwoo Kim and Finnish designer Maria Korkeila. On Wednesday night Blanc said that contrary to the notion that his industry is dead, “seeing the high quality of the nominees’ collections proves that fashion is [actually] at it’s best”.

From Monocle 24

Hong Kong: South Island Line

Back in December the city’s MTR opened its brand new South Island Line to much anticipation. And with Art Basel coming to town in just a few months, it’s very likely that it will come in handy.

From Monocle Films

Retail spotlight

When is a shop more than just a shop? To find out, Monocle visits three brick-and-mortar businesses offering unique products and impeccable service in Toronto, Paris and Madrid.

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