Friday. 26/7/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Robert Bound

Hot? Not bothered

The UK is sizzling. And not just by British standards: in Knightsbridge yesterday some of the convertible Lamborghinis with Emirati plates had their drop-tops dropped. Unprecedented scenes. The heat means that the power dynamics afoot within the capital’s offices are going to be much, much more complex. Because inside – although admittedly not everywhere here – air-con reigns. And where air-con happens, office politics are writ large. To misquote Michael Jackson, when it comes to air-con, I’m a fighter, not a lover – and that’s because no one knows how to do it. In short form, then, let me tell you how.

If it’s 39C outside, don’t set the thermostat to 19 just because you’re a bit hot. When you walk in and reach for a polo neck you know you’re in trouble. Twenty-three works for me. Don’t get catty and get caught in air-con tennis (also known as thermo-rodeo). This is where the hotties and the coldies play tit-for-tat with temperatures in a battle to the end. Eighteen – bang! Twenty-five – sock! Sixteen – kerpow! And so on. This is a bore and gives people colds. Twenty-three works for me. Dress for the weather, not for the air con. If it’s warm, let it – not all but a bit – hang out. There’s a lot of year spent prim and proper in a tailored shirt and a navy jacket: this week ain’t it, baby. Go on: show me your elbows.

And finally, hotness is hot. The weekend is nine hours away (maybe sooner, you lucky lot in the east) so embrace the licence that the ascendant mercury lends and make a new friend in the workplace today. See you by the thermostat. Twenty-three works for me.

Defence / France

Fact or fiction?

France is adopting a forward-looking approach when it comes to defence. This week it emerged that the Defence Innovation Agency is recruiting sci-fi writers to help with strategy and yesterday Florence Parly, minister for the armed forces, announced plans for a swarm of mini surveillance satellites. These probes, expected to launch in 2023, would keep an eye on France’s assets in space and report on any interference from foreign actors. The statement comes as more nations are tentatively developing a military presence in space. Parly played down the prospect of a space arms race, attesting that France’s designs are intended to be defensive rather than aggressive.

Retail / New York

Keeping track

Rising rents have swept small businesses from Manhattan’s shopping districts, leaving behind rows of empty shopfronts. But the city council took a step in addressing the slow demise of retail earlier this week, passing legislation to create the “Storefront Tracker”. The digital database will require landlords to register their shops, detailing their size, location, occupancy status and monthly rent. You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand and the city hopes a better grasp on the scale of the problem will be key to unlocking a solution, perhaps in the form of a vacancy fee. The fee would penalise landlords who sit on empty shops and hopefully inject some much-needed vibrancy back into Manhattan’s shopping streets. Whether the city uses the information wisely remains to be seen.

Fashion / Italy

Puff daddy

It’s tough to create news when you’re known for one specific item. Yet Moncler, the luxury puffer-jacket label, has bucked this trend. Yesterday the Milanese company revealed its revenue for the first half of 2019 was a whopping €570m, and its profits were up by 16 per cent on the first half of 2018. Success might be attributable to Moncler Genius, a format pioneered by CEO Remo Ruffini that involves recruiting hot external designers – such as Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli – to create their own takes on Moncler’s down jacket. By tapping into the industry’s best creative talents and releasing work in product drops throughout the year, Ruffini has brought his brand coolness, relevance and a tidy profit.

Urbanism / Seoul

Park and recreation

Seoul’s mayor Park Won-soon is on a mission to make the South Korean capital better for walking. His latest effort involves trees: 15 million of them will be planted in the city between now and 2022, adding to the 15 million that were planted between 2014 and 2018. Using genera such as zelkova, which grow tall and provide lots of shade, the metropolitan government is planning to create 100 public spaces with seating for weary pedestrians. Park also wants to line highways and the banks of the Han River with arboreal cover. As well as offering shade, trees reduce air pollution and catch windblown dust. It’s an elegant concept and a reminder that city improvements aren’t always rendered in glass or steel.

M24 / Monocle on Design: Extra

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Monocle Films / Poland

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