Wednesday 20 February 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 20/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock


Smart to the last

On a sunny Tuesday in early December last year I had the good fortune to spend an hour with Karl Lagerfeld at the Mercer in New York. I was told that we’d have no more than 20 minutes to talk but, having interviewed Karl several times over the past 25 years, I knew that we could end up spending the whole afternoon talking about whether Hamburg was better than Berlin, his love of daily newspapers (particularly the Frankfurter Allgemeine) and his aversion to the term “marketing”. In the end we discussed Brand France, the evaporation of mystery in society, the importance of deadlines, the question marks over Chancellor Merkel and the need for craftsmanship in the design industry. Along the way we digressed to countless other topics and, by the time we wrapped up, there was enough for a sizeable audio documentary about the state of the modern world. Karl was a walking museum: formidable, deep, rich and full of delightful fables. Never afraid to speak his mind, he reminded us that the world has perhaps become a bit too brittle, that having a point of view should be celebrated and that understanding specific codes is an essential element of enduring as a designer.

Image: Getty Images


Leader of the pack

America’s most popular senator, 77-year-old Bernie Sanders, is taking a second shot at “political revolution”. Yesterday the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist announced that he’s running for the party leadership again. Unlike in 2016 he has thrown off the shackles of an underdog candidacy, emerging as a 2020 frontrunner with strong name recognition and campaign infrastructure. But while his policies of universal healthcare and free college education were radical three years ago, today a spate of progressives, from Elizabeth Warren to Kamala Harris, are running on similar issues. His message simply isn’t as unique now as it was in then. Still, despite the crowded field, Sanders remains the Democrats’ best shot at taking the White House.

Image: Getty Images


Home improvement

While the international community marvels at the scale of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing appears intent on forging stronger links between its cities at home. The Greater Bay Area, announced this week, is a masterplan to create an economic region spanning 11 cities along the Pearl River Delta, hinging on Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The idea is to build a sprawling centre of technology innovation in the south by 2035. Closer ties with mainland China will worry some in Hong Kong. But chief executive Carrie Lam has welcomed her city’s prominent position in the blueprint. It could also provide a long-term solution to one of Lam’s biggest headaches: Hong Kong’s housing shortage. As road and rail connections with southern China improve, overcrowded Hong Kongers may one day choose to commute from the mainland.

Image: Getty Images


Going round in circles

It’s back to Brussels for UK prime minister Theresa May, who this evening will make a last-ditch attempt to win concessions from the EU on her Brexit deal. One wonders at her capacity for rejection: she’s shouted down in the House of Commons then confronted by po-faced committees in Brussels. A new report commissioned by Euronews suggests that she might have saved herself all the bother, as it claims that a large number of Europeans already think that the UK is no longer part of the EU. The largest number of misinformed people are in France and Italy, where nearly one third believe that Brexit has already happened. Anand Menon, director of think-tank The UK in a Changing Europe, believes Europeans are losing interest. “Lengthy political processes mean people get bored – and, more importantly, assumptions like this are understandably made.” Given the stakes, now is the worst time to succumb to Brexit fatigue.

Beirut, Hamra

We head to Hamra, an area that combines authentic hole-in-the-wall coffee sellers and breakfast joints with new bars and bistros. Our guide is Monocle correspondent Lizzie Porter.

Monocle Films / Global

The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns & Hideaways

Video didn’t kill the radio star and apartment-sharing apps haven’t scuppered our enduring need for hotels. It’s this sincere belief that proved to be the rallying cry for our latest book, which covers everything from hoteliers’ trade secrets to holiday recommendations.


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