The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 7 November 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Opportunity lost?

As the midterms results start to take shape, have the Democrats been making the most of Republican uncertainty?

Today US Democrats have a few reasons to be cheerful. As the final results of the country’s midterm elections trickle in it is clear that the Democratic Party has won back the House of Representatives and can use its power there to throw out laws proposed by the Trump Administration. However, the Republican Party saw gains in the Senate as the anticipated ‘blue wave’ of left-leaning voters failed to materialise. There have been some marquee victories for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party - New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and Jared Polis of Colorado is the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a US state. Despite these achievements, the Democrats’ identity crisis still poses a worrying outlook for 2020. The discord between its progressive, centrist and more conservative factions must be addressed before it can mount a coordinated attack during the next presidential election.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Mutual attraction

An event that started as succour for singletons has become a blueprint for harmonious relations between online and bricks-and-mortar retail.

On 11 November the world’s biggest annual spending spree erupts in China. Singles Day began in 1993 as an excuse for lonely men to treat themselves to small luxuries to detract from the fact that they couldn’t find partners for themselves. Since then it has become an annual discount e-commerce splurge where sales dwarf those of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon’s Prime Day. Ecommerce giant Alibaba got in on the act ten years ago, and will this weekend slash prices for 48 hours rather than the traditional 24. While the spending frenzy usually happens online, this year there will be a more prevalent tie up with physical retail. Tmall, Alibaba's premium website will open a pop-up shop at Swire's Beijing shopping mall. An opportunity then for singletons to gather in real life.

Urbanism

Image: Living Home YB1

Residence expert

A Swiss-born design doyen has hatched a solution for California's housing struggle: prefabs.

San Francisco-based design darling Yves Béhar has teamed up with Plant Prefab (Amazon is among its backers) to create an exciting idea with a deeply dull name: LivingHomes YB1. The project, announced last week, is a line of smallish, easy-to-erect dwellings that can be plonked in gardens or other under-utilised areas in crammed Californian cities. The idea is that these fuss-free shells can create additional living space for elderly relatives, or moody teenagers in mind of a little privacy (fortunately the glassy boxes have blinds). These customisable shells will start at $280,000 (€245,000) when they go on sale and although they're a welcome addition when it comes to the housing debate, they're a small-scale private effort (for those who can afford them) as part of a larger national issue.

Culture

Image: Shutterstock

The grand Vienna museum

Having accepted the calling of the life artistic, Wes Anderson is directing events at the Kunsthistorisches.

Is a priceless collection of artefacts enough to draw the crowds? The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna doesn’t seem to think so. To dial up the mise en scène for its most recent exhibition it has enlisted the cinematic talents of director and animator Wes Anderson – as well as his wife, artist Juman Malouf. Entitled ‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures’, it even sounds like one of Anderson’s kooky film titles. The show itself comprises 400 objects, ranging from Egyptian artefacts to Old Masters. Anderson’s aesthetic is evident, especially in the prevalence of certain colours, such as emerald green. There is undoubtedly value in inviting outside perspectives when it comes to curation but harsher critics of the auteur might say that the museum is cashing in on the broad appeal of Anderson’s cutesy aesthetic.

From Monocle 24

Meeting Olafur Eliasson

Monocle on Design

What can designers learn from artists – and where does one discipline end and the other begin? We sit down with Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson to find out. Plus: London-based watchmaker Uniform Wares on keeping time with the industry and our Fashion editor’s chat with a brand worth knowing.

From Monocle Films

Canada: state of the nation

From a thriving economy to potent soft-power credentials, we unpack what keeps Canada on the up.

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