Friday. 4/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Nothing to see here

The shutdown of the US government is causing museums, galleries and even a national park to shut up shop.

As the stalemate in Washington continues, the effects of the US-government shutdown are being acutely felt across the country: it is affecting some 800,000 federal employees and is the cause of a partial closure of the IRS. Now many of the country’s museums and parks are struggling to stay open: all 19 Smithsonian Museum sites and Washington’s National Gallery of Art have shut their doors until the situation is resolved. California’s Joshua Tree National Park also closed this week due to health and safety concerns: its pit toilets are close to capacity. President Trump appears to be indifferent to the arts and seems to lack an appreciation for nature (bar the manicured knolls of a golf course). Hopefully his commercial sense will see him relent as the shutdown starts to have an impact on local economies.

Image: Getty Images

Sport

Leader of the pack

Japan will host this year’s Rugby World Cup, the first country outside the sport’s ‘old boys’ network’ to do so.

Later this year Japan will become the first Asian nation to host the Rugby World Cup, a massive soft-power coup for the country. It could be a game-changer for the sport’s global appeal: the tournament has only previously been hosted by eight of the world’s top rugby nations, including France, New Zealand and South Africa. If rugby is to continue to develop then it needs to demonstrate its intent to break into new markets. Things appear to be going to plan: ticket sales have been described as “phenomenal” and Japan 2019 is expected to be the most lucrative competition in the sport's history. Veteran broadcaster and former Wales international John Taylor, who has commentated on five Rugby World Cup finals, told The Monocle Minute: “Japan will do a fantastic job. The sport has grown considerably in the country, and they will put on a real spectacle for the rest of the world.”

Image: Getty Images

Design

Quick start

The new year is already proving busy for those in the design industry gearing up for trade fairs in Germany and France.

Architects, interior designers and furniture firms might just be getting into gear for 2019 but January is sure to be hectic: the season of the design industry’s most important events is upon us, culminating in Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April. Later this month the IMM furniture fair will take place in Cologne. Brands from Germany and beyond will present pieces nodding to the nation’s Bauhaus movement, which celebrates its centenary this year. The jamboree then rolls to Paris for the Maison et Objet trade fair, which this year coincides with Paris Design Week – and should be bolstered because of it. While designs due to be debuted at these events remain under wraps, both shows will draw an international audience as the demand for European design in US and Asian markets grows.

Culture

Writing in the mall

A shopping precinct in Singapore is the unlikely venue for a new library – but is it a new chapter for the institutions?

People aren’t reading as much as they used to and it’s an unfortunate truth that libraries are shadows of their former selves. But that hasn’t deterred Singapore’s VivoCity shopping mall, which is building a state-of-the-art 200,000-book public library – complete with adult and child learning centres – on the third floor of the retail complex. The aim is to boost library use by placing the library @ harbourfront, which opens on 12 January, in a prominent position – and perhaps increase footfall in shops too. It is hoped that the project will recast libraries in a new light: from forgotten, ill-kept corners to shining, community-driven spaces that are widely used, akin to the “public living rooms” in Finland.

Athletic Propulsion Labs

The Entrepreneurs

Adam and Ryan Goldston were student athletes at the University of Southern California when they started Athletic Propulsion Labs and created a basketball shoe proven to make players jump higher. Launched direct to consumer in 2010, APL’s Concept 1 basketball shoe became a global sensation overnight, helped along by the fact it was the first ever shoe banned by the National Basketball Association. Based in Los Angeles, APL now creates products across the luxury, performance and streetwear markets, stocked by 300 of the world’s finest high-end retailers.

Paris retail: La Grande Epicerie

The newly opened La Grande Epicerie on the Parisian rive droite celebrates the importance of physical retail. Monocle Films pays a visit to admire the heritage brands and tasty produce.

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