The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 3 February 2018

Museums

Image: Getty Images

Full steam ahead

All aboard London’s V&A: its new exhibition celebrates life on the ocean waves.

“Ocean Liners: Speed and Style” opens today at the V&A in London and is a perfect exhibition for the museum, suiting its founding principles to a T. These enormous vessels plied the seas, mixing unsurpassed engineering on a giant scale with the exquisite civility of the decorative arts. Curator Ghislaine Wood has got her (white-gloved) hands on a treasure trove of art deco and beaux-arts marvels – including luggage, fixtures, fittings and promotional posters – that show how selling the myth of these streamlined steamers changed graphic design and visual communication forever. Alongside the filigree are cross-sections of iron and steel, monolithic hulls that lurk beneath the Plimsoll line. “Ocean Liners” is a fathom-deep and genuinely moving exhibition on how engineering and beauty were witness to one of mankind’s more civilised eras.

F&B

Image: Getty Images

Food fight

Bean-counters in one Japanese city won’t settle for third and are doing all they can to reclaim first place.

In Mito city residents pride themselves in being Japan’s biggest spenders per household on one thing: natto, or fermented soybeans. It’s been a traditional dish for centuries and the city’s tourism bureau promotes natto – which gets pungent and gooey with the help of the Bacillus subtilis bacteria – as soul food. Even the mascot, Mitochan, has a hat of rice straw used for fermenting soybeans. But Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications data this week revealed that Mito residents’ annual household spending on natto – ¥5,512 (€40) – has fallen behind that of two other cities: Fukushima and Morioka. It’s prompted mayor Yasushi Takahashi to worry aloud about Mito’s brand and pledge to spend on promotional events – including festivals and free giveaways – to help the city regain its top spot.

Advertising

Image: Alamy

Tell it like it is

Despite a mood change, advertisers should hold firm and send a strong message in support of equal rights for all.

As one of the year’s most-watched television events the Super Bowl has become as known for political statements as it has for touchdowns. Last year saw advertisers such as Budweiser and Airbnb using their commercials to champion immigration in response to Donald Trump’s travel ban, while Audi’s spot called out the gender pay gap. The previous year, Beyoncé used her half-time performance to promote the Black Lives Matter campaign and Coldplay paid tribute to marriage equality. But this year, many advertisers are expected to play it safe when it comes to political statements in light of the backlash from NFL fans over players’ kneeling protests during the national anthem. With more than 100 million viewers tuning in tomorrow night, it feels like a wasted opportunity for brands to be pulling punches now.

Culture

Image: Julien Gremaud

Art barter

A boutique art fair in Geneva shows that there is more to Switzerland than Art Basel.

With about 100 exhibitors, Geneva’s seventh annual Artgenève at the Palexpo Geneva Congress Centre can’t compete with Art Basel. But it gives modern and contemporary galleries a platform in the country’s French-speaking region and plays into the current trend of crossover collecting thanks to its mix of art and design. Many of the exhibitors are local galleries such as Skopia and Laurence Bernard but international galleries such as London’s Whitechapel and the Gagosian, which opened a branch in the city eight years ago, are also represented. Geneva may be better known for watches and motor shows but as Switzerland’s international hub, it’s the right place for an art fair. The city has a vibrant creative scene of its own, particularly around the Mamco contemporary art museum in the Quartier des Bains neighbourhood.

From Monocle 24

Mungo & Maud

Eureka

Michael and Nicola Sacher are the husband-and-wife team behind cat-and-dog outfitters Mungo & Maud. In this episode, they tell us how their English setter sparked the idea for the brand and how it has grown into the world's top shop for discerning pets.

From Monocle Films

Reporting the Arctic

The Canadian Arctic is undoubtedly one of the more inhospitable places on Earth but take a look and you’ll see there is a trove of stories to be told about the vast and varied landscape.

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