The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 7 September 2018

Geopolitics

Image: Alamy

Plenty to talk about

Can Kosovo and Serbia find some common ground – and swap some land in the process?

Talks are to resume in Brussels today between Kosovo and Serbia. It is hoped that they will take a further step towards laying past differences aside and seek a future within the EU, free of bilateral disputes. The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, will host a summit between Kosovan president Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s head of state. One subject under discussion will be a proposed land swap, which would see Serbia reclaim Kosovan territories inhabited by Serbs, and Kosovo reclaim the Presevo Valley, home to mostly Kosovan Albanians. “The elephant in the room is recognition,” says Tena Prelec, an LSE research associate with a focus on southeast Europe. “If a deal is reached then Serbia would acknowledge that Kosovo could become independent – but for most Serbians, Kosovo is still Serbia.”

Design

Image: PH Collection

Savoir faire

Paris is front and centre on the design stage from today thanks to two events that focus on passion and potential.

Design aficionados descend on Paris today for the autumn editions of Maison & Objet and Paris Design Week. While Maison & Objet’s tradeshow floor continues to be an important litmus test for European design, the city-wide Paris Design Week offers a niche, unexpected and distinctly Parisian take on where furnishings and installations are heading. Le Off, now in its eighth iteration, is one such location that continues to delight, showing work from 40 emerging international designers. Meanwhile, to illustrate the city’s commitment to design, its most iconic landmark has been given a makeover. Japanese mother-and-daughter duo Motoko Ishii and Akari-Lisa Ishii have dressed up the Eiffel Tower with a brand new light display as part of Japonismes 2018, the city’s celebration of Japanese culture.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

More of the same

Meddling in local Russian elections by the Kremlin? It’s a turn of events that comes as no surprise – and neither will the results of the voting.

This weekend, 22 regions across Russia will hold their annual local elections. In the nation’s capital, much like elsewhere, little is expected to change and Sergei Sobyanin’s eight-year hold on Moscow’s mayorship is likely to continue. Though on paper there are still four challengers to his role, failure to comply with a so-called “municipal filter” (a law that requires candidates to get approval from majority Kremlin-approved council members) saw three separate opposition figures denied the opportunity to run. While pension-reform protests in past weeks show Russians can be politically galvanised, stringent control of municipal elections has led to lacklustre and predictable outcomes – and, consequently, a sharp decline in voter turnout. This Sunday looks set to be no different.

Sustainability

Rubbish atmosphere

Space debris is becoming a problem but one Dutch designer is wasting no time in exploring potential solutions.

As a species, human beings aren’t altogether tidy: we’ve been busily producing all manner of discardable items to scatter around the Earth’s surface since the industrial revolution. Now it appears that our bad habits are spreading to outer space, where more than 29,000 objects larger than 10cm are encircling our planet, sometimes at a velocity of about 28,000km/h. This is bad news for space exploration. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde wants to find a solution and has announced an initiative to build awareness and open up discussions around space waste. Scheduled to launch in the Netherlands in October, the Space Waste Lab project, supported by Nasa and the European Space Agency, will examine ways to upcycle space debris into reusable products.

From Monocle 24

RM Schindler’s Walker House

On Design Extra

When writer Andrew Romano first stepped into a California house designed by the late, great Vienna-born architect RM Schindler, he was mesmerised. It took several long years, plenty of persistence and a dash of serendipity before he could call the place home; here’s how he got his foot in the door.

From Monocle Films

Seoul: The Monocle Travel Guide

The South Korean capital is energetic and sprawling; our comprehensive guide is brimming with insider tips.

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