The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 15 July 2017

Culture

Good wood

Plywood: the most undervalued of building materials has its own exhibition in London.

Although it’s been around since Ancient Egyptian times, plywood has had something of an image problem in the past. That is all set to change as it’s the subject of a new V&A exhibition called Plywood: Material of the Modern World. The show is a study of the material that could lay claim to have made up much of the contemporary design world. The Bauhaus movement bent it into shape, its art deco uses are beautiful and Hampstead’s stunning Isokon apartment block, which has it in abundance, is a must-see. At the London museum, the plywood fuselage of the De Havilland Mosquito – the fastest, highest-flying plane of the Second World War – looms overhead as you’re invited to inspect pre-fab building plans from the 1930s, smirk at casually misogynistic instructional videos for flatpack furniture in the 1950s and ogle original Eames and Aalto chairs. Plywood – the material and the show – is hard-working, clever and much deeper than mere veneer.

Retail

Market forces

How a New York-based pop-up is offering an opening to aspiring makers and designers.

FAD Market is anything but a fad. The fashion, art and design market, launched last year by New York-based curator Jen Bailey, is a nomadic pop-up with the aim of bringing together local makers and supporting small businesses. This weekend the fair will set up shop at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn’s leafy Boerum Hill. Bailey has handpicked a select line-up of young and emerging brands and designers, including Avandi, Ariane van Dievoet’s Brooklyn-based jewellery and product design studio; Tula, which sells plants to city-dwellers from its custom-made mobile greenhouse; and porcelain-maker Petra Langerova’s creations for Conmateria. The idea is to promote budding artisans who may not be able to afford a storefront in New York’s pricey property landscape. "It is important to give aspiring artists and designers an opportunity to come offline and sell their work in person," says Bailey.

Tourism

Greek revival

It’s widely expected to be a record year for Greek tourism this summer, with talk of a ‘golden season’ resembling the country’s pre-crisis days. Projections show a 9 per cent growth in tourism income and an increase of 2 million visitors compared to last year. Yet it’s not only the sun-soaked beaches that are luring in travellers: the country’s action-packed cultural calendar surely has something to do with it too. Not only has the Syros International Film Festival just opened on the eponymous Greek island but there’s also art galore at the Sterna Art Project on Nisyros and the Kastro art space on Antiparos (which is featuring US-artist Wyatt Kahn’s first solo show in Greece), while the fifth AegeanDocs Film Festival will keep people coming well into October.

Books

Past glories

A new photography book, gathered from decades of work, shows a surprising side of Iraq.

Headlines about Iraq are rarely positive these days. However, a new photography book from Berlin-based imprint Hatje Cantz offers another viewpoint on the history of this embattled and war-torn part of the Middle East. Titled Latif Al Ani, the monograph is the first collection on the work of 85-year-old photographer Al Ani, whose documentation of his homeland exposes an all-but-forgotten picture of prosperity and cosmopolitanism that took root in Iraq in the 1950s. Snapped over several decades, Al Ani’s work spans street merchants chivvying customers to the interiors of modernist villas, as well as ladies perusing jewellery in Baghdad boutiques; all a far cry from the degradation and destruction of the nation today. Ultimately the book provides some hope that Iraq may be able to rekindle a similarly progressive spirit to overcome its current divisions and strife.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

How to make a Nike commercial

Action!

Before he was making feature films Adam Smith was the creative force behind several television campaigns for brands including Nike and Adidas. He shares his thoughts on what makes an attention-grabbing TV spot.

From Monocle Films

Property’s next move

The property sector is growing and it’s no longer business as usual. Will we see London reinvent flat rentals or Copenhagen up the quality of housing? The property market is ready for a shake-up.

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