Wednesday. 14/8/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Sale of the century

Bauhaus is being celebrated in 2019. A hundred years after the influential German school was inaugurated, “Bauhaus-inspired” has become a phrase used by everyone from Swiss watch-makers to Los Angeles-based fashion designers to flog products. But most efforts to mimic the movement – which had an impact on everything from teapots to housing – have fallen short, being steeped in either nostalgia or obvious salesmanship.

That’s why it’s refreshing to come across the Growing House, a construction project finished this week by students and tutors from Department of Architectural Theory and Design at Germany’s Kassel University. Informed by a concept devised by Bauhaus teacher Ludwig Hilberseimer, Growing House is a modular housing system that allows inhabitants to add on new sections as a family expands.

Those keen to ape the principles of Bauhaus would do well to remember that the movement was about finding simple solutions to complex problems – not about shifting product.

Politics / Ukraine & Russia

Battle of wills

Ukraine and Russia are engaged in a political popularity contest. Yesterday Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy offered asylum and citizenship for any Russian suffering from political persecution under Vladimir Putin. The announcement follows a move by the Kremlin last month that aimed to make it easier for Ukrainians in rebel-controlled Donbass in the east of the country to get Russian passports. Amid this point-scoring exercise, the skirmishes in Donbass continue. Zelenskiy last week appealed to the Kremlin to begin peace talks, Putin responded by accusing Ukrainian forces of being responsible for shelling that caused civilian casualties. While Zelenskiy might be able to save Russian dissidents, he appears incapable of resolving the conflict in the east.

Defence / Philippines & China

When the going gets tough...

A spat is brewing between the Philippines and China over the latter’s activities in the South China Sea. A few too many warships and surveillance vessels from the People’s Liberation Navy have strayed into Filipino waters than is comfortable for defence chiefs in Manila. Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte is due to visit Beijing this month and, at the behest of his ministers, has vowed to get tough with his counterpart. How tough? Not very. During his tenure, the strongman leader has adopted a fawning tone with China, the reward for sycophancy being droves of Chinese tourists spending money within his borders. China is also dangling their pledges of tens of billions in foreign direct investment and trade, which it is releasing in dribs and drabs. He may be a hard man at home but, where China’s concerned, you can count on Duterte to mind his manners.

Society / India

Home and away

India has the world’s largest diaspora but the country’s constitution doesn’t permit Indian nationals to have dual citizenship: if they wish to apply for it elsewhere, they must forsake their Indian passport and the right to participate in their home country’s democracy. Some in New Delhi think that it would be a good idea to allow the 15 million Indians living abroad to have the best of both worlds. A bill is currently being considered in parliament that could amend the constitution and throw out the rule barring dual citizenship for Indian nationals. Many of India’s brightest and best seek education and business opportunities abroad; the proponents of dual citizenship will hope that the measure encourages Indians to return home.

Retail / Germany

Small wonders

Berlin’s rising house prices have made headlines lately and this week the upper house of the German parliament will propose an initiative to protect small shops too. Such businesses have borne the brunt of increasing costs, with many seeing rents balloon more than 200 per cent between 2009 and 2018. The parliament’s move should be a simple sell: smaller retailers are both a boon to the economy and a key ingredient to keeping city life interesting. While the debate about the decline of bricks and mortar rages on, other countries would do well to divert attention to neighbourhood shops: we’ll all pay the price if they stumble.

M24 / The Menu: Food Neighbourhoods

Ipoh, Malaysia

We visit Ipoh in northwest Malaysia to sample the city’s famous white coffee, ‘kway teow’ and Nyonya cuisine.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: The Drinking & Dining Directory 2019

This is the second serving of our tasty annual and, once again, it’s full of delectable photography and tempting reports. Not least among them is our 2019 Restaurant Awards, which focuses on 50 venues that our editors and correspondents have dined at and delighted in. Get your fill of that – and plenty more nourishing features – by picking up a copy today.

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