The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 30 May 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Counting the cost

Turkey’s weak currency could be Erdogan’s greatest opposition in the upcoming elections.

As Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan campaigns ahead of elections next month there is one opposition figure emerging that may be the most effective counter to his increasingly authoritarian grip on politics – the economy. This week Turkey’s central bank moved to standardise the country’s interest-rate framework in an attempt to stop the slide in Turkish currency, which has slumped to record lows since the beginning of the year. Investors have long been concerned by the bank’s ability to operate independently from Erdogan’s nationalist agenda; on Saturday he called upon Turkish citizens with reserves of foreign currency to convert them back into lira – something he described as a patriotic move. Those troubled by the president’s call may want to look to Frankfurt, London, Toronto or even Dublin as places in which to invest their foreign currency. Should the lira continue to weaken it may prove to be the sharpest rebuttal to Erdogan’s government, which has all but dismantled the conventional political opposition in the country.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Space invaders

This year the Venice Architecture Biennale answers a pressing quandary: how to ensure cities retain public space that is accessible to all.

What happens when you ask hundreds of architects from some 63 nations what the word “freespace” means to them? Well, the Venice Architecture Biennale, basically. The tough-to-tackle edict was laid down by co-directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Dublin-based Grafton Architects alongside a manifesto that speaks of a more generous provision of public space. But the idea isn’t just a cerebral or loftily academic intrigue, it’s an urgent one. “Architecture is an optimistic industry but a complex one, where the pressures of commerce and time of contracts are enormous,” Yvonne Farrell tells Monocle. “[Freespace] is really a plea to have support from clients, government and architects themselves. More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and what we build is the new geography. What we build also has an emotional impact on people and their quality of life.”

Transport

Image: Alamy

Driving ambition

New York’s transport champion has a plan to get the city moving but will it get the political green light?

The new head of New York City’s transit system isn’t wasting any time shooting for the moon. Andy Byford has been leading the New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) since January and last week released an ambitious proposal to overhaul the woefully underperforming and chronically broken-down system. The plan, which includes sorely needed signal modernisation and revamping the underused bus system, doesn’t have a price tag (although estimates put it at about €32bn) but has already turned Byford into a hometown hero for commuters. If implemented, the 75-page plan would be a real boon for the city from quality of life to tourism but, without the unlikely political backing from both mayor Bill De Blasio and state governor Andrew Cuomo, it may be nothing but a pipe dream.

F&B

Image: World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism

The height of good taste

An event featuring discussions around travel and food, complemented by Thai cuisine? Let’s get over to Bangkok sharpish.

Starting today, Bangkok is hosting the fourth edition of the World Tourism Organisation’s World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism. It's the first time the three-day event has been held in Asia and more than 500 international and local delegates are expected to descend on the Thai capital for workshops, seminars and culinary tours across eight neighbourhoods. The event ties in nicely with the government’s socioeconomic development plan Thailand 4.0, seeing as one fifth of the nation’s tourism revenue came from F&B in 2016 and spending by locals and tourists hit THB600bn (€16bn) in 2017. The event’s theme this year will focus on “harnessing the power of technology as a driver for sustainable growth”; however, the delegates could be forgiven for getting distracted by Thai classics such as spicy som tam (papaya salad) and mango sticky rice.

From Monocle 24

Image: Andrea Avezzù

Freespace: Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Monocle on Design

Venice, a city of canals, church bells, bobbing boats and over-fed pigeons is a-chatter with talk about the just-opened Venice Architecture Biennale. Josh Fehnert sits down with the directors of this year’s show. He also talks to the commissioners behind the UK and US exhibitions and takes note of the pavilions worth perusing.

From Monocle Films

Womenswear Heroes

In a saturated market it can be hard to find original fashion that doesn't scream or shout. Monocle films visits a trio of womenswear designers in London, Brussels and Copenhagen that are daring women to dress differently. All three share a strong sense of identity and an uncompromising eye for detail.

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