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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 14 August 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Getting serious

The leaders of North and South Korea meet again this September but improving relations between the two countries remains a challenge.

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a third summit in Pyongyang in September. It’s a sign that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in remain hopeful about improving relations. But since the two men first met in the border village of Panmunjon in April, the North-South dialogue has focused on symbolic gestures: sports exchanges, infrastructure projects and family reunions. To make substantive process, the two countries need to show that they are working towards a political declaration to end the Korean War and a peace treaty to replace the armistice from 65 years ago. That won’t be easy given the leaders’ differing definitions of “complete denuclearisation”. Moon, who would be only the third South Korean leader to visit Pyongyang, might also try to chip away at the deadlock between North Korea and the US. With so much on the agenda, an early breakthrough seems remote.

Architecture

Image: Alamy

Future proof

A plan to protect some of Sydney’s leading modernist buildings has been cheered by conservationists.

Sydney’s modernist architecture is a polarising subject for Australians: residents either love or loathe these concrete buildings between the 1950s and 1970s. Now the city council is drawing up plans to protect nine Brutalist structures – including the MLC Centre, Town Hall House and Sydney Masonic Centre – from being demolished or changed beyond recognition. Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore wants to ensure that any future development would preserve the heritage and character of the buildings. The Central Sydney Planning Committee will have the final say on additions to the list; whether the city will defend more buildings remains unclear but conservationists are applauding what appears to be a reaction to the state government’s decision to demolish the Sirius in the Rocks, a late 1970s concrete apartment complex, and sell the prime harbourside property to developers.

Branding

Well suited

German train conductors are getting a uniform refresh.

Uniforms are an important part of branding for a transport company – just look at Alitalia’s new ones for its flight attendants, designed by Alberta Ferretti; or those created by Matt Robinson of Klaxon Howl for staff of Toronto’s UP Express. Now Deutsche Bahn is following suit. For the first time in 15 years, train conductors on German trains will be seen wearing a maroon uniform, rather than the current blue one with bright-red detailing. The plan is that these new garments, which are being tested by a handful of employees for now, will become standard issue from the end of 2019. That might seem a long process but when you’ve got 43,000 workers who wear a uniform every day, you’ve got to be sure that the design is a good fit.

Retail

Image: Alamy

Wake-up call

Mattress companies are jostling for space in the US market – and online retailers are muscling in on the bricks-and-mortar offering.

With nearly 200 new mattress brands flooding the US market, traditional retailers such as the Houston-based Mattress Firm are suffering. Reports recently surfaced that the long-standing company was considering filing for bankruptcy. The reason? Overly aggressive expansion. Mattress Firm hoped to increase brand visibility by buying up competitors and launching new shops across US cities. But saddled with rebranding costs and slipping sales, analysts instead expect it to close nearly 1,000 stores. But with only 35 per cent of shoppers willing to buy a mattress without seeing or testing it, the industry’s future looks like it is still in retail – if done right – and online start-ups are taking notice. Casper, the direct-to-consumer brand founded in 2014, plans to spring open 200 new shops across the US within three years. The move marks the latest development in Casper’s transition from an online to a bricks-and-mortar presence, which began earlier this year with its first permanent location in Manhattan.

From Monocle 24

Shooting for the moon

The Stack

We speak to Andrés Rodríguez, editor of Spanish media conglomerate SpainMedia – responsible for titles such as Spanish Esquire and Tapas – about his new men’s magazine Man on the Moon.

From Monocle Films

Kenya: state of the nation

This east African anchor boasts world-famous writers and athletes but corruption and flawed infrastructure hold it back.

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