Friday. 14/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Robert Bound

See for yourself

Some campaign posters from the Viennese Tourist Board that you might spot around the city: “Paintings are disgusting” says Toby M of the contents of the city’s Leopold Museum; “Lawn is a mess” deadpans Audrey K of the Schönbrunn Palace; while Tom M offers, “The view is rubbish” from the Wien Prater ferris wheel (at least proving that the definite article is definitely a good idea). These brusque judgments have been lifted from online reviews of the city’s top attractions. Some bright spark in Austrian marketing has realised that the Lord of social media giveth but mostly he taketh away – and perhaps simply reprinting online critiques of startling banality will end up attracting the more discerning tourist.

Indeed, the coffee has been woken up to and practically snorted. Another recent Viennese campaign urged visitors to “Enjoy Vienna. Not #Vienna”, beneath a photo of the sort of couple who Instagram their coffee… Instagraming their coffee. We all love a giggle at five-star book reviews on Amazon that read “Product arrived on time and in good condition”. But the whittling down of our experience of the world based on something not receiving a 4.4 star-rating on Google Maps or Tripadvisor is sad and diminishing. A recent US print ad for a Honda SUV – pictured rumbling across rugged terrain – urges drivers to “Get there before the blogs do”. Three cheers for the sentiment of these campaigns but how to make it real? A Faraday cage around the Louvre? Here’s the trick: follow Toby M on Instagram and avoid his favourite places like the plague. Sod off, Toby.

Politics / Spain

Trying times

The trial of 12 Catalan separatists ended this week with the defendants defiantly claiming that they are victims of an injustice. After four months of hearings in Spain’s Supreme Court, former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras said that he and his fellow dissidents have “no ideas or principles that should be silenced”. They face charges including rebellion – punishable by up to 25 years in prison – sedition and misuse of public funds for their role in organising an unauthorised referendum in 2017 and subsequently declaring Catalonia’s independence. A verdict is not expected for months but whatever the outcome, the trial does not seem to have swayed opinion in the region: 47 per cent of Catalans favour splitting from Spain.

Environment / UK

Greener on the other side?

UK prime minister Theresa May announced this week that she would make it legally binding that the country becomes carbon neutral by 2050. The move is being seen as the departing prime minister’s attempt to leave a positive legacy: it would make the UK the first G7 nation to set such a target and, potentially, the first to become carbon neutral. But critics argue that the target is unrealistic; chancellor Phillip Hammond says that it would cost £1trn (€1.1trn) and potentially lead to cuts to public services. Number 10 argues that this ignores the economic benefits of positive climate action. Jill Duggan, founder of consultancy firm Carbon Policy Associates, agrees. “When you take on a target and work to achieve it, it can often mean that the cost drops much sooner than anticipated,” she says. “There are some key issues that need to be addressed but this is a step in the right direction.” Let’s hope, for May’s sake, that costs do drop. If they don’t it will be her legacy – rather than UK emissions – that will amount to zero.

Culture / New York

Back to the drawing board

Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art (Moma) might be the arbiter of all things “modern” but in 2019, how it displays its wares has been deemed to be less so. Tomorrow the museum will shut its doors to embark on an expansion helmed by New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The $400m (€350m) project will add 3,700 sq m (more than two thirds the size of an American football field) to the museum’s footprint, as well as a reorganisation of its galleries. The expansion will allow Moma to make better use of its collection by exhibiting a greater range of artists who are traditionally overlooked by the art world (women, Asians and Latinos among them). What’s on display will be periodically rotated too, suggesting that there’s no one definitive history of modern art. When the museum reopens in October, its feet will be more firmly planted in the 21st century.

Fashion / Milan

Changing tack

Last week Prada showed its new menswear collection in Shanghai (pictured); it’s a strategic move that will do much to consolidate its lucrative Chinese customer base. But the multibillion-dollar brand will be sorely missed at this weekend’s Milan Fashion Week Men’s. Without it anchoring Sunday night’s proceedings – as it usually does – Milan will lack some energy; many buyers are skipping the city this season and heading straight to Paris. That’s not to say that Milan is without potential highlights: there are highly anticipated shows from the likes of Sunnei, Ermenegildo Zegna and Marni, whose creative director Francesco Risso has found form. Elsewhere, the showrooms of brands including Brunello Cucinelli and Church’s will be heaving. This weekend offers, perhaps, a glimpse of future fashion weeks as big brands splinter off, leaving holes in the schedule. But the show must go on.

M24 / Monocle on Design: Extra

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This vivacious Italian city, which has been booming since the 1950s, is a hive of activity. Monocle's travel guide will navigate you through the very best it has to offer, from rustic lunch spots to Europe's finest artwork.

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