For the Trump fans who were whipped into a fury during his pre-election rallies, the US president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday may well be seen positively. After all, the reimposition of sanctions would make good on one of his oft-repeated election pledges (the Iran agreement being, of course, “the worst deal in history”). But leaving aside for a moment what his decision might mean for the Middle East, what does it say about the postwar transatlantic alliance? For all his recent courting of Emmanuel Macron and civil hosting of Angela Merkel, Trump has ignored their pleas to stick with the deal. And as Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, points out, none of the European powers will actually challenge this latest affront to the international consensus. “They don’t have the spine to take on the US,” he warns.
In design, furniture brands prove their creative credentials by bringing on an industry titan as art director. Now this idea is moving into the world of real estate with shared-workspace juggernaut WeWork appointing architect Bjarke Ingels as its “chief architect”. In the furniture world these roles tend to be figurehead positions where creative guidance is offered and products are made – and it seems the Danish founder of Bjarke Ingels Group will play a similar role at US-based WeWork. A pioneer in forming friendly public spaces such as Copenhagen’s Superkilen Park and no stranger to designing major buildings around the world, Ingels will undoubtedly bolster WeWork’s design and architecture. Yet will his appointment shift a sentiment that WeWork’s “creative” face is largely a ploy to attract wealthy corporate clients over the emerging businesses it claims to nurture? That’s yet to be seen.
Today London’s Design Museum is unveiling a show-stopping fashion exhibition, a celebration of the late French-Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaïa. Alaïa, who moved from Tunis to Paris in 1957 and rose to fame in the 1980s, was beloved by fashionable women due to his figure-hugging designs, which he painstakingly made by hand – and which earned him the nickname “The King of Cling”. He was fiercely independent, showing his collections when they were ready rather than conforming to the relentlessly seasonal industry schedule. He was in the process of co-curating this exhibition when he passed away last November. The resulting showcase features outfits from the 1980s up until 2017; Alaïa, ever the perfectionist, handpicked the designs and tweaked them so that they would hang perfectly on the museum mannequins. The launch comes one month after the opening of the first Alaïa shop in London.
Books from Japan about the joys of cleaning and decluttering have become a lively publishing sub-genre. Marie Kondo, author of the international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, was the trailblazer, followed by the likes of Fumio Sasaki, a minimalist whose book Goodbye, Things encourages people to live with as few possessions as possible. Buddhist monk Shoukei Matsumoto wrote his book about the soul-salving benefits of cleaning back in 2011 and now, in a new translation for Penguin, A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind is finally available to English-speaking readers. Matsumoto, a monk at Komyoji Temple in Tokyo, considers cleaning to be a social leveller and a great way to calm the mind. One thing all these books share is a deeper significance – the point is not so much a dust-free home as a clear head. The irony, of course, is that millions of homes now have another book in them because of the mini publishing boom.
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