The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 9 February 2018

Sport

Image: Getty Images

Winter’s tales

South Korea’s Winter Olympics don’t kick-off until tonight but the build-up has already proved eventful.

The Winter Olympics begin this evening with a lavish opening ceremony in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, where the news highlight is likely to be athletes from North and South Korea marching beneath one flag. Few Winter Olympics in recent memory have been marked by the kind of build-up given to this year’s event – particularly its role in the apparent thawing of tensions between the two Koreas. There will, of course, be plenty of other significant moments over the next 16 days of competition. Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy, the first two openly gay athletes to represent the US at the Winter Games, have already garnered much attention at home. While the men’s hockey tournament – which is historically among the most-watched television events in Canada – will be notable for the absence of the country’s professional players after the National Hockey League barred them from participating.

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Coming from all sides

Polarising politics in the US means it’s not just the liberal media that’s facing a backlash.

New Yorkers like to portray themselves as a no-nonsense bunch and the Big Apple is a deeply Democratic city. So when an electronic billboard appeared on the side of a building in Times Square lambasting fake news in giant letters – singling out CNN, The New York Times and MSNBC among others – it didn’t last long. The sign, paid for by the pro-Trump Committee to Defend the President, was removed after a complaint from building owner (and media giant) Viacom. But, as political viewpoints in the US continue to polarise, the liberal news media is not the only institution to come under fire. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that 73 per cent of Republicans believe that members of the FBI – a former favourite son of the right – have been working to delegitimise the president.

Design

Blurred lines

Global buyers’ desire to bring industrial looks into the home has turned a Swedish furniture fair into an international draw.

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair wraps up this weekend in positive spirits. Scandinavian brands were front and centre across the exhibition halls at Stockholmsmässan but the fair was also an international event, largely due to an enduring interest in Scandinavian design, with the US market becoming particularly buoyant. “The blurring of the contract market, residential market and hospitality market is so great right now that Scandinavian design is everywhere,” says US-based industrial designer Brad Ascalon, who was at the fair to debut his new Preludia Series with Danish furniture brand Carl Hansen & Søn. “Today we want wood and cosy; there is a real desire for the human touch.”

Food

Image: Getty Images

Death by chocolate?

Will Godiva’s plan to ‘liberate’ Japanese office workers have the sweet taste of success or end in sweet nothing?

Valentine’s Day in Japan is synonymous with giri-choco (obligation chocolate): chocolates that women dish out to their male colleagues on 14 February. The usual offerings are distinctly platonic convenience-store chocolates for the whole office, so upmarket chocolatier Godiva is ruffling a few feathers this year by trying to push the tradition in a more romantic direction. In a full-page ad in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun – Japan’s biggest financial daily – Godiva Japan president Jérôme Chouchan is urging businesses to free women from the burden of giri-choco and leave them free to buy gifts (presumably more-expensive chocolate) for people they really care about. Hardly a blow for feminism but it has stirred up debate and plenty of publicity. Other brands will be keenly watching next week to see if Godiva succeeds in melting a few hearts or if it faces corporate meltdown for daring to challenge a Japanese tradition.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

New Zealand: living roofs

The Urbanist

Following years of campaigning, the Hundertwasser Art Centre is set to become a reality. Senior landscape and urban-planning consultant Chloe Avery is leading the team and told us about the importance of incorporating a living roof.

From Monocle Films

Speciality retail: Verona

This Italian city has a long tradition of typography – and the business still has a story to tell. Letterpress workshop-cum-store Lino’s & Co updates old machines with 3D-printed movable type.

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