The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 9 August 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Out of office

Leading Chinese Communist party members are off to the seaside but, with US trade talks likely to be on the agenda, it might not be much of a holiday.

Rising temperatures often mean that August is an opportune time to head to the beach and that’s exactly what high-ranking officials from the Chinese Communist party have planned. They’ll be decamping to the seaside resort of Beidaihe for an informal get-together with leader Xi Jinping this weekend. This event has no formal agenda and even the dates are not distributed to the media but it’s known to be a time when key issues can be discussed in a more relaxed environment. This year the meetings will take a heavier turn with Xi keen to talk over the repercussions of the trade war with the US – yesterday saw China raise tariffs on another €17.7bn of US imports in the tit-for-tat stand-off. We will wait to see in the coming days what China’s leadership is going to do next: stand firm or look for a route to compromise?

Brexit

Image: Getty Images

Creative thinking needed

Britain’s architects and designers want to be given a blueprint for the future of their sector. Trouble is, the government can’t even get to the drawing board.

The growing sense of bemusement at the utter failure of the UK government to win any meaningful breakthrough in its Brexit negotiations is whacking everything from the value of sterling to house prices. But it’s the impact on industry that is most alarming – investment plans shelved, businesses left trying to guess what their world will look like in 2019. One of the sectors worst hit is the creative industries, according to a special report produced for The Monocle Summer Weekly newspaper. Speaking to design and architecture firms big and small, a picture emerges of a sector that feels nobody is listening to concerns ranging from being shut out of lucrative European building projects to the loss of international talent. Michael Streets, managing partner of Foster + Partners, says “it is impossible to start the process without adequate information”, while celebrated architect Alison Brooks says “Brexit reveals a huge blind spot in our self-perception”. That’s clear to anyone watching the chaos. To read more, buy The Monocle Summer Weekly, out today.

Art

Image: Getty Images

Green giant

The huge installation that’s delighted visitors to London’s Hyde Park this summer is only temporary but its artist wants to leave the city – and the ducks – a legacy.

This summer London’s Hyde Park has become a beacon for art fans and anyone after a selfie moment. Tourists and locals alike have taken in the spectacle of Bulgarian-born artist Christo’s massive and very pink installation “Mastaba” floating on the park’s Serpentine lake. And while the piece will be removed next month, the artist is determined to fund a lasting legacy. New animal habitats will be created on the lake’s Serpentine Island, which Jason Taylor, manager at Hyde Park, describes as being “in desperate need of improvement”, while water in the lake will be cleaned up too. Christo has had an extraordinary career creating works that have captured the world’s imagination and put a spotlight on environmental issues. And, at 83, he is still showing us how you can have fun, make a fleeting statement and deliver permanent change for the world and waddling birds.

Fashion

Making capital

Despite the power of the major fashion cities, Copenhagen has maintained its position as the edgier spot to see new Nordic talent. This is why it matters.

The 2018 edition of Copenhagen Fashion Week kicked off yesterday. Buyers and editors from across Europe and the US have gathered in the Danish capital to see runway shows by designers such as Danish trailblazer Cecilie Bahnsen and to visit classy trade shows Ciff and Revolver. One of this year’s first catwalk events was by young Norwegian label Holzweiler, which was staged in a former plastics factory and saw models pairing oversized shirts with fluorescent accessories. “Copenhagen has evolved to become a much more professional and organised event,” says Andreas Holzweiler, the brand’s founder. And, he says, this year the show season has pulled in greater numbers of international press and buyers. The robustness of Copenhagen’s fashion week – alongside Berlin’s – suggests that there is still a route to success for small brands with good ideas. It shows that you can still create a fashion success story without leaving for Paris or Milan.

From Monocle 24

Trakke

The Entrepreneurs

While on a summer break from university in Glasgow, keen cyclist Alec Farmer taught himself to sew. Setting out to craft the perfect bag, Farmer used discarded materials that he found around the city: and soon Trakke was born. It’s now a well-known maker of waxed-canvas bags and travel accessories that are inspired by Scotland’s rugged landscapes and designed to last a lifetime.

From Monocle Films

Munich: the best of everything

We take lessons in liveability from the winner of this year’s Monocle Quality of Life survey. Join us for a tour of the Bavarian capital, where we cover everything from improved infrastructure to new clubs.

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