The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 18 April 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Cold shoulder

With Brexit looming and Commonwealth leaders in town, you’d be forgiven for thinking the UK would want to show how inclusive it is.

As the UK approaches the deadline to Brexit, Theresa May’s government is making an odd show of openness to the rest of the world. This week, as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) takes place in London and Windsor, the PM has faced a scandal: citizens of Caribbean Commonwealth countries who had spent most of their lives in the UK have been threatened with deportation. To make matters worse, May initially refused a request to meet with heads of government from the nations in question. Meanwhile, May is meeting with Narendra Modi today where his push for loosened visa restrictions for Indians wanting to work in the UK will almost certainly be rebuffed (again). Though CHOGM’s official theme this year is “Towards a Common Future”, it seems May is operating on a different agenda entirely.

Design

Fair pickings

Salone del Mobile is not just for the design crowd – engineering and electronics companies are joining the extravaganza.

As the roster of events of Fuorisalone – the carnivalesque events happening outside the official Salone del Mobile programme – seemingly swells each year, Milan’s Design Week has increasingly become an attraction for visitors well outside of the design industry. This year specialist manufacturing, electronics and engineering companies such as Minnesota’s 3M and France’s Dassault Systemes have exhibitions at the Triennale and at Tortona’s Superstudio+ respectively, as these firms branch out from a B2B remit. And even as the non-industry spectators come more for the photo ops, there are still installations at Fuorisalone that offer technical inspiration for the design crowd, such as Japanese designer Kengo Kuma’s enormous air purifier (a sculptural spiral made of folded fabric that absorbs pollutants). For more insights on what’s happening in Milan, pick up a copy of our special edition newspaper The Salone Weekly.

Hospitality

Floating in a most peculiar way

A US firm is attempting to launch a space hotel. Is it an idea worth exploring or should it be filed in a black hole? Discover more in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

When cramped city slickers complain about a lack of space, few have a jaunt beyond the Earth’s atmosphere in mind. All the same, pie-in-the-sky plans for a space hotel have been orbiting the headlines this week thanks to Texas start-up Orion Span and its plan to open Aurora Station by 2022. The €81m space hotel would orbit 322km above the Earth’s surface and would offer trips for four guests at a time at a snip compared to other existing interstellar accommodation: a mere €7.7m per person. We’re not usually prone to comment on such lofty promises but it appears that the design world is taking notice of, and even inspiration from, such interplanetary hype. Bjarke Ingles’ studio Big, for one, is creating a domed research facility in Dubai that simulates the experience of visiting Mars. Still, call us overly grounded but there are plenty of other hotels we’d rather frequent – and design challenges we’d rather see tackled – right here on Earth.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

The writing on the wall

Toronto’s residents will know it anywhere ­– but who designed the city’s beloved font is still an enigma.

Though its origin is a mystery, Torontonians will recognise it anywhere: the typeface on the city’s subway station walls. Many believe the handsome, understated lettering of the stations’ names was born from an attempt to save money by Toronto’s Transit Commission in the late 1940s, when the subway was under construction. An adaptation of either the 20th Century or Futura fonts, the typeface is now believed to be bespoke: archival drawings examined in a new report by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper show the lettering appears to be drawn by pencil. Yet who sketched them is still unknown. Regardless, the lettering is now a ubiquitous sight in the city; as well as the subway stations, it can be spotted on T-shirts, posters and other souvenirs around Toronto.

From Monocle 24

Image: Guy Perrenoud

Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler

The Monocle Weekly

The Finnish-Swiss duo’s new title The Communication Book looks at the methods that are the most effective - and unusual - for getting one’s point across.

From Monocle Films

Officer class: Poland's military university

Monocle Films visits Poland's land forces academy, which is nurturing the next generation of officers to fuel its expanding defence forces.

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