The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 20 October 2017

Politics

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Hear this

Enforcing direct rule on Catalonia will only boost secessionists’ claims that Madrid doesn’t listen.

To impose direct rule on a restive region is a powerful political threat and for that reason should always be a last resort. Of course, the options available to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy to keep the country together are getting fewer and fewer. But unlike, say, Northern Ireland where internal power struggles have prompted calls for an intervention from London, the Catalan crisis is a direct dispute between the region and central government. To impose direct rule on Catalonia – essentially reversing the devolution process that’s been happening for years – will only serve to bolster the secessionist argument that Madrid doesn’t listen. A government spokesperson said any return to direct rule was a case of taking “a scalpel not an axe” to the powers that the Catalan regional government has – right now either way looks like a blunt instrument.

Recovery

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Moving forward

One month after the devastating earthquake in Mexico City, neighbourhoods are shaking off the dust and starting to look to the future.

Yesterday marked one month since a powerful earthquake hit Mexico City, killing 228 people. Despite the collective sense of grief, life in the capital has gone back to something resembling normality, with businesses reopening and the reconstruction operation underway. But some of the worst-affected districts, including La Condesa and Roma, are still reeling. Here damaged buildings stand empty, while the streets are far quieter than before the disaster. In 1985, another destructive quake led to many avoiding these neighbourhoods for years. To prevent that from happening again, businesses in this part of the city such as retailers and galleries are joining forces, postponing rather than cancelling events (such as a Gallery Weekend, rescheduled for next month), and helping one another publicise new events. It’s hoped that these measures will prevent an earthquake having a long-term impact once again.

Economy

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Dream machine

A Québécois technology firm’s burgeoning worth is helping to propel the province’s economy.

Montreal’s clout as a technology hub just grew with the news that the point-of-sale software company Lightspeed, founded by entrepreneur Dax Dasilva in the city in 2005, has become one of the only Canadian start-ups to achieve a valuation of CA$1bn (€670m) following a recent round of venture-capital funding that raised CA$200m (€135m). Lightspeed, which serves mostly small and medium-sized independent retailers, has blazed a trail in Québec’s technology sector that is fast becoming one of the pillars of the province’s burgeoning economy. With Canada’s national economy enjoying a spring in its step at the moment, Lightspeed’s recent upswing demonstrates that homegrown entrepreneurship is flourishing too.

Arts

Outside the box

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s first UK building will showcase art and design in Dundee.

Next year will see the opening of the Kengo Kuma-designed V&A Dundee, the first branch of the South Kensington institution to spring up outside London and the Japanese architect’s first UK building. From a recent viewing of renderings, Monocle is mightily impressed. The idea is to showcase Scottish and British design in the context of Dundee’s industrial and architectural history and urge the city to look to the water instead of gazing at its navel (the museum juts out of the River Tay). Kuma walked the cliffs of Scotland and found inspiration in the mixture of land and sea, and the museum’s rough concrete exterior will echo the wind-hewn stacks along the coast. “This museum shouldn’t be a box,” says Kuma-san, “I wanted topography between water and land.” Dundee? Dun do it, Kuma-san.

From Monocle 24

On Design 63: The throwaway brilliance of Bic

Section D

How a French company specialising in stationery, lighters and razors became one of the most commercially successful design brands in the world.

From Monocle Films

Monocle preview: November issue, 2017

Our latest issue celebrates all things Swiss – and in the process goes way beyond chocolate and watches. We’ve also focused on good design (there are more than 30 pages of the stuff) and thrown in a few e-bikes and shared workspaces for good measure.

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