The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 8 March 2017

Politics

Image: Reuters

Hostile reception

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel – this meeting of suspicious minds will be one to watch.

Had around 100,000 votes in the Midwest swung the other way, the two most powerful women in the world would be meeting next week. Instead, German chancellor Angela Merkel heads to Washington on Tuesday to meet her polar opposite: a president who is as reckless as she is cautious, as illiberal as she is liberal, as militarist as she is diplomatic. President Trump’s meeting with Chancellor Merkel will be his first with a world leader who has made no attempt to hide her disdain for him. While UK prime minister Theresa May clutched Trump’s hand and begged for a trade deal, Merkel greeted his election with a reminder of the country’s shared values – values, she seemed to suggest, that she wasn’t entirely sure Trump adhered to. The big question is whether Trump and Merkel will keep their mutual distaste hidden behind diplomatic niceties.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Senior services

In Japan you can look after your elderly relatives while buying a loaf of bread.

Convenience stores in Japan live up to their name: you can buy milk, magazines and concert tickets; pay taxes and utility bills; and – at some Lawson stores – arrange nursing-care services for the elderly. This is the chain’s in-store “Lawson Care” corner, which first appeared in 2015. The company now says it will have similar services and products targeting the elderly at 30 shops by February next year, up from nine. With rising demand expected to push nursing-care costs to nearly ¥20trn (€165bn) by 2025 (the year Japan’s entire baby-boomer generation becomes 75 or older) Lawson is already planning a nationwide rollout of its elderly services, which have proved a hit with those wanting to avoid the queues down at city hall.

Retail

Image: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

Buying power

EuroShop shows off the strength of smart retail.

Think bricks and mortar are dying out? Think again. Every three years EuroShop – one of the world’s leading retail trade fairs, in business since 1966 – transforms Düsseldorf’s exhibition centre into a platform for more than 2,300 international exhibitors to present future store design. The message is that smart retail is here to stay but it’s all about creating a strong brand according to Alison Embrey Medina, executive editor of Design: Retail magazine. “Be a hybrid by becoming more than just a store: become a brand people can relate to,” she says, underlining the importance of empowering the customer through good service, being transparent and creating an experience that speaks to all five senses. Day three of EuroShop wrapped yesterday and exhibitors that best applied this kind of thinking included The Village – a collaboration between Vitra, lighting designer Ansorg and Vizona – retail designers Schweitzer from South Tyrol, and UK-based SFD.

Design

Image: Amanda Mustard

Thailand comes to the table

The Thai capital is building a name for itself as a home for creative endeavours.

Bangkok is staking its claim to being Southeast Asia’s design capital, with 2017 already packed with events. The Thailand International Furniture Fair kicks off today in the capital, and aims to be the most important showcase in Southeast Asian homeware, attracting buyers from across the region to established brands such as Thailand’s Deesawat and Design Plant. Meanwhile, there's a host of grand openings and unveilings to keep an eye on in the coming months. The Thailand Creative and Design Centre, a key institution for the nation’s creative industries, gets a new home in the Grand Postal Building in the Bang Rak district. Meanwhile the MahaNakhon building – Thailand’s tallest – by German architect Ole Scheeren sees its first residents move in this month.

From Monocle 24

A different way to work: Brooklyn’s A/D/O co-working space

Section D

Car-maker Mini enlisted the help of New York-based nArchitects to design a co-working space with designers in mind. The result is A/D/O in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. We take a tour.

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