The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 9 September 2017

Culture

Image: Alamy

Good show

With global brinkmanship putting countries on edge, an unlikely nation is charming its neighbours – both near and further afield.

While North Korea’s recent nuclear tests have given the US grief, Russia has taken the opportunity to go on a charm offensive. The political upheaval has coincided with the Far East Street forum which wraps up tomorrow in Vladivostok. The cultural and economic exhibition has featured Venice Biennale-style pavilions from Russia’s eastern reaches – such as Kamchatka – along with musical performances, food markets and even a bit of wrestling. But the limelight fell on South Korean president Moon Jae-in, whose country is also participating in the event for the first time. Vladimir Putin gave his counterpart a tour of the grounds on Wednesday before a tête-à-tête underlining Russia’s desire to seize the moment and exercise influence in the region.

Design

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Paper trail

Tens of thousands of people will flock to Paris for design fair Maison et Objet – and they won’t all be there for the tech.

This weekend 70,000 design swots, decorators and developers will descend on the Parc des Exposition for the biannual French design fair Maison et Objet. Here 3,000 exhibitors show everything from textiles to toilets and chairs to Christmas trees (plus plenty of tasteful take-homes from the industry leaders of course). After a few tough years, the event’s managing director Philippe Brocart is also anticipating a hike in visitor numbers from the US, South Korea, Japan and China. “It’s a good sign for the economy – and it’s good not to just rely on the European market,” he says. Although Brocart has sharpened this year’s line-up and cleared a dedicated space for so-called “smart gifts”, he’s not convinced that technology is the lure. “We still have handmade, unique and limited-edition products; you have more and more technology but there’s more and more paper too,” he says.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Leaving a legacy

Pierre Bergé’s commitment to gay rights, charitable giving and the arts will always be in vogue.

With the death of Pierre Bergé, the co-founder of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent who passed away yesterday at the age of 86, France loses one of the few remaining characters from the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s; people who were socialites, intellectuals and cultural forces. For many years the personal partner of Saint Laurent, Bergé is credited with being the maison’s business brains. But beyond orchestrating its financial success, he also shaped the brand’s identity and direction (including, some say, keeping a watchful eye over revolutionary creative director Hedi Slimane’s decision to shake up the label’s image in 2012). His campaigning for gay rights and donations to Aids charities made him a public figure – as did his involvement with the arts, from ownership of magazines to overseeing Paris’s opera. Perhaps it’s only fitting then that two museums dedicated to Saint Laurent’s heritage will open in Paris and Marrakech in October; they’ll become the most tangible continuation of his life’s work.

Architecture

Image: Getty Images

Set in stone?

Cemex is celebrating concrete structures but a rising star in the timber world is also turning heads.

Timber construction may be all the rage but there’s still a place for concrete buildings. Since 1991 the Mexico-based cement specialist Cemex has been showcasing the best concrete-built houses and infrastructure developments as part of its annual Building Award. This year the finalists include the Copándaro Waterfalls Tunnel, Mexico City’s skyscraper Torre Reforma (pictured) and the Bauhaus-style Oyamel residence. Each of the 61 nominations across six categories is innovative and sustainable, yet only one will be named the world’s best on 9 November. And this at a time when much of the industry is looking towards investing in cross-laminated timber or CLT (made from sawn lumber, it was invented in Austria two decades ago but has only recently reached the precision needed to be used in large buildings). But while concrete may face some challenges, it’s good to celebrate its adaptability and beauty, from rough tactility to smooth polished elegance.

From Monocle 24

Image: Shutterstock

Action!

The Cinema Show

Meet the man in charge of restorations and revivals at this year’s 74th Venice International Film Festival. Ben Rylan sits down with Giuseppe Piccioni, jury president of the Venice Classics section, to discuss how modern audiences relate to older films.

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