The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 16 March 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Relative success

Could Chirlane McCray be about to provide another chapter in US politics’ dynastic saga?

The US loves a political dynasty, be it the Kennedys (who may make a comeback in 2018 with bright young thing Joe) the Bushes or the Clintons. And while the De Blasios may not have quite the same ring, there’s no reason for them to miss out on this family affair. As New York mayor Bill de Blasio enjoys his second term and his thoughts begin to turn to what happens next, it’s his wife Chirlane McCray – already chairing a non-profit for her husband called Mayor’s Fund To Advance New York City – who has floated the idea of running for office (which office is still up in the air, mind you). Her mental-health work for the city has been well received and, for a New Yorker looking to get into politics, her current trip to Puerto Rico (a country with a large diaspora in the Big Apple) makes sense too. Even with her husband’s poor approval ratings, McCray may yet stand to profit.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Better living

When it comes to improving the urban fabric of our cities, Melbourne is a perfect point of reference.

The second edition of Melbourne Design Week, which kicked off yesterday and runs until 25 March, is shining a timely spotlight on the role of urban-planners, architects and landscape experts. Organised by the National Gallery of Victoria and the Victorian state government, the festival is hosting more than 160 exhibitions, workshops, talks and tours across the city and around the state by Australian and international participants, including the Hong Kong Design Centre. The focus on better urban design will tackle issues such as the integration of concrete safety bollards taking over Melbourne’s streets and designing housing for improved livability in a difficult housing market. What better city to help solve the problems facing centres everywhere than one of the world’s most liveable ones?

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Make it snappy

H&M risks slipping behind its rivals in terms of high-street sales – and not just because of the snow.

It’s been a tough start to the year for the high street. This week the two biggest fast-fashion companies, Inditex (owner of Zara) and H&M, unveiled disappointing results for the first quarter of 2018. Is the high street in crisis? Not quite. The main reason cited for the slumping sales is the bout of uncharacteristically cold weather that has plagued European cities. It's meant that shoppers have been slow to pick up new-season spring/summer stock; no one feels like trying on a linen shirt when it’s snowing outside. Yet H&M has more widespread problems that are unlikely to disappear when the sun comes out, not least that it continues to be trumped by Inditex due to its inability to react quickly to trends. Inditex, which manufactures primarily in Europe, can take two weeks from idea to item on shop shelf; H&M, which manufactures in Asia, takes six months. There’s no room for tardiness in the fast-fashion game.

Urbanism

Into the wild

Judging by the awards at Mipim, architects and developers are paying more attention to green space and nature in our cities.

While Mipim, which wraps today, brings together the bigwigs of the property-development world, it’s also a vital event for architects and designers: plans discussed here can dictate aesthetic trends for years to come. Yesterday the Mipim/AR Future Project Award winners were announced, rewarding a number of commissioned but incomplete projects with outstanding creative merit. The take-home from this year’s victors – among them projects in Boston, Düsseldorf and Istanbul – was that green space is king. The overall winner was a masterplan for a Shanghai Old Town redevelopment by US firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. While the project allows for density, its mixture of small and tall buildings promotes a human scale alongside wide walkways, where nature is cleverly brought to the fore.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

US: fall in urban crime

The Urbanist

The US has been witnessing a sharp decline in urban crime and the level is currently at its lowest since the first half of the 20th century. Writer Adam Gopnik explains why.

From Monocle Films

Gunsan: building on the past

Natives and newcomers to Gunsan in South Korea are creating quirky bars, art spaces and a bright future for this charming outpost.

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