The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 24 October 2017

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

The Donald dilemma

The environment was high on the agenda at Paris’s CityLab conference – and, inevitably, President Trump featured in the discussion.

Donald Trump will not be the man who determines the future of the world’s – let alone America’s – cities. This was the message delivered at the opening of the annual CityLab conference in Paris yesterday, where 40 of the world’s mayors and a host of technology players, academics and city-planners have gathered to consider what’s next for urbanism. Delivered by the Aspen Institute, The Atlantic and Bloomberg Philanthropies, it’s a grey-suited room of men and women who wield power. One of those smart suits belongs to Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, who made it clear that despite Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate agreement, “cities will meet our COP 21 goals and we will continue to fight the battle we have to fight”. It was an idea echoed by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris: “Donald Trump is delaying progress to a healthier world but US mayors have started the battle to resist.” See the Monocle Minute tomorrow for more from CityLab.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Familiar story

If you weren’t concerned about events in the Visegrad bloc prior to this morning, you should have been. Here’s why.

Forget Brexit – the most troubling bit of business for the EU right now is in the former Communist countries in the Visegrad bloc: Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. In elections this weekend the anti-establishment Ano party of billionaire mogul Andrej Babis became the biggest in the Czech parliament, winning about 30 per cent of the vote. With Poland and Hungary run by illiberal nationalists, this represents another bold slide towards populism for the region. While Babis is not exactly anti-EU he has been a critic of the bloc’s immigration policy and could – if none of the mainstream parties agree to co-operate – look to the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy party for support. Few believe Brussels has the tools to placate this new wave of frustration.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Time for a gear shift

Tokyo is on the go with its annual motor show. After a few stalled years will it get motors running, battery-powered or otherwise?

The Tokyo Motor Show’s global prestige has been in decline recently but this year’s event – which previews Thursday and runs till 5 November – has plenty of fresh ideas from Japan’s 14 automakers. Toyota will debut its new taxi model for Japan (called JPN Taxi), as well as prototypes that use artificial intelligence to assess emotions and gauge alertness. Nissan’s vision for SUVs is expected to be battery-powered and self-driving, Honda will unveil an electric sports-car prototype and motorcycle maker Yamaha promises a Transformer-like concept model that can recognise its owner and interact “like a living creature”. Wondering about the future of cars in cities? Sony’s version – in virtual reality – comes in the form of a PlayStation video game.

Business

Such stuff as dreams are made on

You might need a lie-down after reading this: data about bed sales can be rendered compelling.

As part of their presence at Dutch Design Week, which continues until 29 October, design duo Rens prove how adding colour to data can turn even the most mundane sales figures into a palatable piece of design. In collaboration with Dutch bed and mattress maker Auping, Rens represents consumer preferences. It has visually depicted a year’s worth of data, including the most popular bed colours and the differences between countries. Auping customers can customise their beds, choosing from about 100 colours. “We’re highlighting interesting patterns using data that’s often overlooked,” says Renee Mennen, who co-founded Rens in 2008. And the information is illuminating a few trends too: “Interestingly we Dutch tend to choose greys and blacks, whereas Scandinavians use more colourful, high-quality textiles.”

From Monocle 24

Yves Saint Laurent

Culture with Robert Bound

For the November edition of Monocle, Sophie Grove reports from Paris and Marrakech about two museums that celebrate fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. She tells Robert Bound about writing the story.

From Monocle Films

Taiwan’s second city

Discover the charming city of Tainan in Taiwan that is tempting people away from their high-paid jobs in Taipei and Hong Kong.

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