Friday 17 November 2017 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 17/11/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock


Out with the old

While the world has been consumed watching Robert Mugabe’s era come to an end in Zimbabwe, its neighbour to the west has been up to some regime change of its own. Angola’s president João Lourenço (nicknamed JLo), who earlier this year succeeded José Eduardo dos Santos after 38 years in power, has made it clear that he’s ready to make changes. He started by removing the former president’s daughter and Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, from the state-owned energy company Sonangol. Then Isabel’s siblings Welwitschia and José Paulino saw their contracts with state broadcaster TPA terminated. This power struggle will have ripples beyond Angola’s borders too, particularly in Portugal: Isabel has invested more than €3bn in the media, banking and energy industries there.

Image: World Architecture Festival


Rising stars

In tropical Southeast Asia, Vietnam is receiving unexpected praise for its building prowess. At the World Architecture Festival, which wraps up today in Berlin, Ho Chi Minh City-based firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects has been recognised with two top design awards. It is one of a number of exciting young firms in the country taking advantage of a growing economy to tackle commissions that address a need for new infrastructure. Vo Trong Nghia Architects, like some of its contemporaries, is also cleverly emphasising sustainability in its work, designing for the tropics with projects that have green elements and smart material choices. While international architects are starting to make a beeline for Vietnam (this week German starchitect Ole Scheeren announced a mega-tower project) we’re more interested in seeing what the nation’s smaller firms are cooking up. Expertise in sustainable architecture is much needed in this region and Vietnam’s next generation of designers look set to fill this void.

Image: Shutterstock


How to win friends

Norway has a deal. So does Canada. And now South America’s regional trade bloc may be about to come to the table. The EU and Mercosur, which comprises Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, look set to wrap up fair-trade negotiations before the year is out. Not that it’s been all plain sailing: talks first started in 2000 but were halted in 2004 over political differences, before resuming in 2010. Yet any differences pale in comparison to the mountain that the UK is looking to climb in its talks with the EU. Even with Bank of England governor Mark Carney now calling for a transitional deal, a smooth Brexit seems increasingly impossible to leaders both sides of the Channel.


Printed inspiration

More than two decades ago Germany’s largest daily newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, launched the first issue of its art supplement Edition 46. Now the magazine, published in the 46th week of each year – hence the title – is celebrating its 20th edition. Each issue is designed by an artist; Anselm Kiefer was the first and since then the likes of Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Alex Katz and Erwin Wurm have left their mark on the publication. “Our concept is that contemporary art – its beauty but also its power to enlighten and its socio-political relevance – has to be liberated from the galleries and brought to the people, our magazines, our conversations, into our heads and hearts,” writes editor Tobias Haberl in the anniversary issue, which looks back at the most moving editions, including one created by 16 artists at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.


In its first edition, Turin’s urbanism festival Torino-Stratosferica attracted speakers and delegates from near and far. Top of the agenda: creating practical urban utopias that are achievable.

Monocle preview: December/January issue 2017

Like a bulging stocking on Christmas morning, the December/January issue is packed with treats aplenty. There's the Monocle gift guide and a few recommended cities for a spot of Christmas shopping, as well as our Travel Top 50 and Soft Power Survey. Make merry!


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