Friday 12 April 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 12/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Start young

Milan can give itself a mighty pat on the back and take itself out for a delicious dinner at Santa Lucia. This week the city played host to the world’s most important design show, Salone del Mobile. Yet while this is billed as a trade fair, Salone does an incredible job at connecting the world’s design community with the city’s residents.

As the Monocle team left our base in Tortona at night, you moved into a neighbourhood where the bars and streets seemed to be playing host to a fiesta at which everyone was welcome. And many of the design shows put on in galleries and shops were open to anyone who just fancied being nosy. But perhaps most impressive were the hordes of schoolchildren being ushered around by attentive teachers. Suddenly, in a snapshot, you saw why this city will be able to find generation after generation of new design talent. It uses trade fairs to excite and engage its citizens – just as it did with Expo 2015 – and the buzz that all the visitors bring to the city is tapped and used. This is what trade fairs should be for. Well done Milan.

Image: Getty Images

International relations / UK & Ecuador

Refuge revoked

Julian Assange, founder of whistleblower platform Wikileaks, was arrested yesterday when Ecuador revoked his asylum status after nearly seven years of accommodating him in its London embassy. They were sick of him violating “international conventions” (read: alleging the Ecuadorian president has an offshore Panama account) and ignoring what it calls “daily-life protocols”, such as being nice to his cat. So what next? The UK could jail him for skipping bail in 2012 or extradite him to the US, where criminal charges have been filed in secret over him releasing classified documents in 2010. There’s also a dormant rape case in Sweden that could be revived. Whatever happens, chances are that the cat isn’t the only one who’s glad it’s all over.

Image: Shutterstock

Health / Japan

Just a smokescreen?

Starting next year, a major Japanese insurance company has said that it will no longer hire any university graduates who smoke, a radical step following the company’s ban on smoking during office hours. With a fifth of its nearly 2,700 staff regularly lighting up, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Himawari Life Insurance has been eager to save on health costs by persuading staff who smoke to kick the habit. It’s the latest indication that a small but growing number of Japanese companies are taking on tobacco in a country where anti-smoking legislation has long been stymied by politicians, restaurateurs and Japan Tobacco, which is one-third government-owned. Will it actually stop people puffing away? We’ll have to wait for the smoke to clear.

Image: ALAMY

Transport / Toronto

Acceleration required

Torontonians got a glimpse of their future on Wednesday – or at least a hazy half-baked future they hope might come to fruition. Ontario premier Doug Ford unveiled an ambitious CA$28.5bn (€19bn) transit expansion plan for the city, including a 15km downtown relief line and subway extensions into the suburbs. But the plan was remarkably scant on details. While Ontario will pony up CA$11.2bn (€7.4bn), the rest of the funding is expected from municipal and national governments. Representatives from both were conspicuously absent at Ford’s announcement, as were details about how Ford intends to meet his budget and bold deadlines. The ambition for Toronto’s future is sorely needed, some Torontonians are rightly sceptical.

Hospitality / Hong Kong

Be our guest

Hong Kong’s hotel industry is going through a golden spell. This week saw New York luxury brand St Regis open its heavy wooden doors to Hong Kongers, who were treated to contemporary East-meets-West interiors designed by hospitality heavyweight André Fu (also behind The Upper House and Shangri-La’s Kerry Hotel). The arrival of St Regis follows the opening of Rosewood in March and The Murray in 2018. With the number of tourists reaching a record 65 million last year, hotel rooms are in high demand and the government has set aside space for another 2,900 of them in an upcoming land sale. Living space may be tight here but the sky’s the limit when it comes to tourism.

Image: ALAMY

M24 / The Urbanist

Shouting from the rooftops

We explore the many options for urban-rooftop spaces. From city agriculture to solar power, drinking and dining to drone parking, we go through some potential plans for your next upper-level project.

Film / The Netherlands

Blossoming business

The Netherlands is a world leader in the horticulture industry and shows no sign of wilting. We visit a delicately orchestrated flower auction, a grower and a florist to unpack the challenges of this fragrant business.


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