Thursday. 16/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

In with the old

What prompts a national newspaper to redesign its pages twice in just over a year? A change of editorship, which explains a sharp turn in the editorial line too. The art team of Italian daily La Repubblica debuted the paper’s new look this week but those familiar with the title’s history will recognise a noticeable return to its origins.

“The editor’s idea didn’t marry with that of the previous one so it was inevitable to rethink the graphics,” says Francesco Franchi, who worked on the project alongside art director Angelo Rinaldi. “The operation was to look to the past and the original identity of La Repubblica.”

In an incendiary political climate, looking to the paper’s beginnings suggests a willingness to stress authority and a tradition of left-wing outspokenness. In practical terms, it means that the newspaper’s masthead is moving back to the centre of the page instead of being pushed to the left as it was the previous redesign; text boxes with thick shadowing are borrowed directly from the paper’s 1980s front pages. Perhaps most noticeably, the point size for headlines and text has increased dramatically.

Last year’s graphic identity represented an attempt from the paper to align itself with international titles and appeal to a younger demographic. The newest developments are obviously aimed at an older readership that prizes legibility above all. “We have interpreted the desires of La Repubblica’s historical readership,” says Franchi. There’s a sense of nostalgia (and pragmatism) to the choice. We hope that the team won’t abandon the aspiration to shape the future of print and avoid just honouring its past.

Politics / USA

Spirited away

He might have done “a very outstanding job” (so says Donald Trump) but the so-called Trump of the Tropics, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, isn’t so popular in liberal New York. Such has been the backlash against him that this week he skipped an event organised by the city’s Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce honouring him as “person of the year”. Bolsonaro has instead opted to travel to Dallas today, much to the consternation of half the Texan city’s council members, who signed a letter rejecting the visit. As for New York? A small but vocal group of protesters gathered at Wednesday evening’s event at the Marriott Marquis, which went ahead despite Bolsonaro’s absence. It’s probably for the best that he wasn’t there.

Defence / Japan

Costly exit

Okinawa, a string of small islands in the southernmost reaches of the Japanese archipelago, bears an onerous burden: some 19,000 US military personnel are stationed there. The noise from jets taking off and landing – as well as the contingent of brawny marines – has long been a source of frustration for residents and local government. But a solution might be on the horizon: the US announced this week that 5,000 marines will be relocated to the US island of Guam in 2024. For many Japanese their departure can’t come quickly enough, especially because of the bad taste the move itself is leaving: Tokyo is stumping up $3.1bn (€2.8bn) to contribute to the move.

Politics / Switzerland

Bore draw

People shouldn’t complain if politicians are a bit on the dull side. At least that’s the view of Switzerland’s recently formed Conservative Democratic party (BDP). Eyeing the federal elections set for 20 October, it has been touting a new campaign tagline: “Boring but good.” The hope is that, given the tumultuous unravelling of Brexit and political instability beyond, the Swiss will trust those who are quietly competent. Will it work? In 2015 the BDP’s centre-right brand of utilitarian politics (the party is apparently about “factually oriented centre policy, far from any ideology”) earned it a 4 per cent slice of the vote. The party will be hoping that the boredom catches.

Culture / New York

Open for all

A common complaint from visitors to the Statue of Liberty is that once you’re on Liberty Island, there isn’t much to do other than gawp up at the Grand Old Lady (especially because venturing into the statue’s shell and climbing 354 steps to the top is a strenuous undertaking). Fortunately the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens today. The building, designed by architectural firm FXCollaborative, is made from glass and Stony Creek granite, the same stone used for the statue’s pedestal. The exhibition inside features sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s early models for the Statue of Liberty, documents detailing its funding and the original torch, which was replaced in 1986. It promises to be an enlightening experience.

M24 / Monocle on Design

Drawing conclusions

We look at the unusual history of architectural drawings and debate the advantages of putting pencil to paper with architect Sam Jacob. Plus: architect Piero Lissoni on his new showroom for De Padova and a postcard from Toronto.

Film / Spain

The Monocle Quality of Life Conference: Madrid

Join us to discover all the Spanish capital has to teach us, be it inviting hospitality, nocturnal delights or the recipe for a long and happy life. Prepare to be challenged and inspired by a host of thinkers unpacking architecture, entrepreneurship, media, retail, entertainment and more.

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