Thursday. 27/2/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Delayed gratification

The annual Milan Design Week, which takes place every April, might be the only global event that a whole industry depends upon for its livelihood. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but what happens at the mega-marketing showcase that is Salone del Mobile does have a knock-on effect for any project requiring a well-made piece of furniture – from resorts in Dubai to new offices in Dublin – in the upcoming year and beyond. So when the news of a coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy was reported at the weekend, furniture makers, interior designers, architects and property developers (not to mention design editors), whose entire working year is formatted around Salone, began to fear the worst.

Enter the Salone del Mobile organisers and Milan’s mayor, Giuseppe Sala, who took the swift and smart action to postpone the event until June (rather than cancel it). We all breathed a sigh of relief. Famously a little disorganised (even when it runs on time), Salone’s postponement will, of course, be a logistical nightmare with plenty of time and money sacrificed in the scramble to transplant the fair into its new summer format.

However, let’s all pause to appreciate how the organisers are handling this. “It’s the most beautiful supply chain in the world and it must be supported,” said Salone del Mobile president, Claudio Luti, in a sensible and optimistic statement honouring a global event that remains anchored to Italian manufacturing. Meanwhile, industry insiders know that during these extra two months furniture prototypes will be refined to perfection, while anticipation for new products will only grow. So to everyone putting their heads together for the task at hand, we’ll be waiting for you in June, Aperol Spritz in hand, to say Salute.

Elections / Malaysia

Tactical block

Malaysia looks set to hold fresh elections after the collapse of its government this week, triggered once again by internal tensions between its two most prominent political figures. When forming an uneasy coalition in 2018, incumbent prime minister Mahathir Mohamad agreed to hand power to his rival, Anwar Ibrahim (pictured, on left, with Mahathir), by 2020 but, in an attempt to thwart Anwar’s bid for power, chose instead to resign this week. The move seems to have worked for now – a show of support for Anwar from some erstwhile coalition partners fell short of securing a parliamentary majority. “Efforts to create a path to power for Anwar are unlikely to succeed,” says Carlo Bonura, senior teaching fellow in Southeast Asian politics at Soas in London. “The only way to solve this is going to be through new elections.” The question then will be whether Mahathir is punished in the polls for his political manoeuvring.

Politics / Canada

Minority pursuit

The right-wing, populist People’s party of Canada, best known for its anti-immigration policies, continues to flounder. CBC News has reported that the party has had 38 of its riding associations (the bodies that facilitate party activities in local electoral districts) deregistered by regulatory body Elections Canada for failing to file the requisite paperwork.

The move means that the People’s party can no longer accept local campaign contributions in those districts. This could be the final nail in the coffin for a party that failed to get a single candidate elected in the October federal elections, garnering just 1.6 per cent of the vote. Though Canada, like other countries, remains mindful of anti-immigration sentiment, it seems that if prime minister Justin Trudeau (pictured) is eventually going to be unseated, it’s likely to be at the hands of the more mainstream Conservative party.

Urbanism / Los Angeles

Obscuring the view

Los Angeles’s department of transport plans to start limiting the number of streets open to bus-tour companies. The city council will conduct a study of the roads and neighbourhoods used by sight-seeing traffic, with buses banned from areas deemed to be too compact or narrow for such vehicles. Although such visits to celebrity homes bring the city some revenue, residents in and around Hollywood have for years complained of congested streets, blocked driveways and nosy tourists taking too many snaps. There are even calls to move the famous Hollywood sign in an effort to discourage visitors from its namesake neighbourhood, Hollywoodland. Although it’s an understandable reaction to a decades-old problem, encouraging tourists to respect the privacy of residents might be a better approach.

Aviation / Greece

Breath of fresh air

When was the last time you watched an aircraft taxi past and thought: “Ooh, that’s a hot bit of graphic design”? Although we’ve yet to see Greek carrier Aegean Airlines' newly launched livery in person, we’re awarding it top marks for coming up with a fresh identity that lives up to its eastern Mediterranean roots while also capturing the spirit of a Greece on the rebound. Developed by London-based agency PriestmanGoode, the new look builds on soothing blues, strong typography and elegant lines. The identity refresh comes at a perfect time, not only for the carrier but also for the Hellenic Republic in general. With Greece’s capital, Athens, enjoying a bit of a renaissance as a low-cost, sunny destination for people seeking to keep a foot in the EU, a national carrier that looks aspirational is just what the country needs. The challenge for Aegean is delivering on its cool looks with service, innovation and punctuality to match. We’ll be sampling it soon and reporting back.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Allplants

Jonathan Petrides is the CEO of Allplants, a vegan food business that he co-founded with his brother Alex. Since launch in 2017, the company has cooked and shipped more than one million meals across the UK.

Monocle Films / Canada

Reading the tea leaves

Vancouver Island might not be famous for growing tea but its lush soil has proved perfect for starting an idyllic farm.

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