The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 8 December 2018

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Buddying up

Greece and Russia want to be on good terms again – and Putin can’t afford to be picky about who he befriends.

Relations between Greece and Russia have been frosty over the past few months, with Greece accusing the latter of meddling in the Macedonian naming referendum, resulting in a tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats. Now it seems Russian president Vladimir Putin and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras are trying to repair relations, with the latter having arrived in Moscow for talks yesterday. While the name of the meeting may not be the catchiest, the Russian-Greek intergovernmental commission on economic, industrial, scientific and technical co-operation coincides with the 190th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Athens. Energy is top of the agenda: Tsipras hopes to convince Putin to route the second line of the Turkish Stream pipeline via Greece. Putin may yet be convinced – Greece is one of the few allies he has left in the EU.

Culture

Image: World Red Eye

Good things, small package

Welcome to Design Miami. It may not be as renowned as its near neighbour but it still pulls in the punters.

A stone’s throw from Art Basel Miami Beach’s main hall, Design Miami (open until Sunday) is but a portion of the size. As such it’s often referred to as one of its satellite events and, in truth, it’s the proximity to its big-box neighbour that gives it an edge over many other international fairs. That said, it’s building its own momentum year after year. It’s a firm favourite among visitors because of its manageable size and it’s increasingly interesting for collectors as it expands its mission, from exhibitions of handsome mid-century pieces to more contemporary objects. The furniture, vases, and decorative pieces on display are often made by artists experimenting with mediums and formats – and opens up interesting questions on where the boundary between art, craft and design lies.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Step change

The Armenian PM’s risky October resignation should pay off tomorrow when he’s likely to be re-elected on a reformist agenda.

Armenia’s snap election tomorrow is likely to reform the country’s staid right-wing parliament. The country’s peaceful Velvet Revolution saw activist and politician Nikol Pashinyan (pictured) become prime minister in the spring. However, his anti-corruption agenda was stymied by the Republican party – in power since the mid-1990s and which still held 50 of the 105 seats. This led to his resignation in October, which triggered the vote. Despite this, it’s likely that Pashinyan will be re-elected and his coalition, the My Step Alliance, will secure a landslide victory. In such an impoverished country long held back by bureaucracy and oligarchy, it’s a bold and necessary move.

Fashion

Image: Shutterstock

Cool water

Spring-water company Evian’s latest hire demonstrates the strength of streetwear’s influence.

Virgil Abloh, founder of streetwear label Off-White and men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, is entering another industry: drinking water. This week the fashion designer, DJ and all-round marketing genius was appointed as the creative adviser for sustainable innovation design at Evian, the spring-water company owned by French conglomerate Danone. On the face of it, hiring one of the most in-demand fashion names seems a bizarre – and expensive – move. Yet it speaks to the immense influence that streetwear aficionados (of which Abloh is king) hold over younger consumers. Evian is targeting millennials more aggressively and swapping its baby ads for campaigns featuring twenty-something influencers; hiring Abloh is a natural next step. He’s designed industrial products before so water bottles shouldn’t be a stretch. But what he’ll really bring the Evian brand is a certain “coolness” by association.

From Monocle 24

Broods

The Monocle Culture Show: The Sessions at Midori House

Live music from Kiwi brother-and-sister pop duo Broods, who will release their album ‘Don't Feed The Pop Monster’ in February.

From Monocle Films

Officer class: Poland's military university

Monocle Films visits Poland's land forces academy, which is nurturing the next generation of officers to fuel its expanding defence forces.

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