The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 14 June 2017

Business

Image: iStock

International rescue

A Canadian scheme to push through foreign-worker visas is setting a good example to its southerly neighbour.

This week Canada launched its much-anticipated global-skills visa programme, set to lure the best international candidates to the northern nation. The two-year pilot initiative will see the visa-application process for workers in high-growth sectors – from technology to energy – reduced from one year to two weeks. The move is a counter to the political climate south of the border in the US, where Donald Trump's combative stance on foreign-worker visas has concerned many US-based high-growth companies. And it’s a welcome indication that the Canadian government is acting quickly to take advantage of an international workforce as its own economy tiptoes towards prosperity. President Trump should take note.

Culture

Image: Art Basel

Statement piece

Some artwork has taken a political turn at this year’s Art Basel event. Let’s hope buyers take notice.

“Just because politics is at the forefront of our thinking doesn’t mean that art and culture can’t be as well,” says Art Basel’s global director Marc Spiegler, who inaugurated the art fair’s 48th edition yesterday. In a year when Art Basel, Venice Biennale, Skulptur Projekte Münster and Documenta all intersect, it’s a ripe moment for the arts to take a stand. While selling is the key objective, at this year’s Art Basel there are a number of socially engaging works on display and the films programme has taken a particularly political tone. As guests arrived en masse for yesterday’s invitation-only day, the mood of gallerists appeared buoyant. If results from Design Miami’s Basel edition – which kicked off on Monday – are anything to go by, collectors are opening their wallets. Here rare works were snapped up within hours, including a John Lautner-designed lamp from 1939 for €85,000. As confidence among collectors grows let’s hope that the attempts of Art Basel’s artists to raise awareness don’t go unnoticed.

Retail

Setting up shop

Asia’s growing demand for designer items means others are likely to follow B&B Italia’s lead.

Milan-based furniture brand B&B Italia has just opened its first monobrand shop in Jakarta – its 15th in Asia. The spacious outlet in bustling Kemang is modelled after the showroom in the company’s Renzo Piano-designed headquarters in Novedrate and offers a complete ensemble of home furniture. Designed by B&B’s in-house team, the shop is heavy on natural materials to match the brand’s aesthetic, while its plush sofas and tropical plant displays make it a homely affair. Even though the US has been B&B Italia’s strongest market for the past seven years (followed by Germany, the UK and France), the Asian market is showing the greatest growth – meaning B&B Italia surely won’t be the last to set up a monobrand shop in Indonesia’s capital.

Governance

Image: Getty Images

Causing a stink

Tokyo hopes its latest initiative to sanitise the city ahead of the Olympics will come up smelling of roses.

With the 2020 Olympics approaching, Tokyo is doubling its efforts to wipe out a pesky problem: smelly buildings. The Tokyo metropolitan government has begun sending out patrols in areas that are popular with tourists to take measurements of foul odours and contact ​building owners about taking action​. Bad smells have become enough of a nuisance that the city receives more than 1,000 complaints a year. The biggest culprit, according to officials, is hydrogen sulphide (think rotten eggs) from wastewater that sits in buildings’ underground tanks for too long. To encourage property owners to spend on a solution, Tokyo is offering ​advice and ​subsidies of up to ¥500,000 (€4,000)​; it’s also making a case that odours could damage Japan’s spotless reputation for hospitality.

From Monocle 24

California: designing freedom

Section D

As London’s Design Museum looks at the Golden State’s influence, we speak to the co-chief executive of one of the biggest architecture and design firms in the US and meet one of the people responsible for some of the most recognisable rock art of all time.

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