Friday 27 March 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 27/3/2020

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Nolan Giles

All is revealed

For urbanists, architects or any keen observer, the city takes on a new tone in its semi-abandoned state. Forced to slow down, many of us now use our one-a-day walks to learn how the land lies in our neighbourhoods in a much more intimate manner. It’s quite eye-opening.

Speaking to designers and industry commentators across northern Europe this week we’ve been discussing the little urban quirks that we now appreciate. It could be the way that the sun moves gracefully around a well-planned garden or the fact that London’s old industrial buildings have much more generous (and better designed) windows than those in its glitzy new developments. “You take away the distraction and you give yourself more time to see things,” says Ernst van der Hoeven, editor in chief of MacGuffin magazine. He painted me a vivid verbal picture of central Amsterdam, where birds are returning to the trees and the architectural beauty of the canal-laden district being returned to citizens from the tourists.

There’s plenty to complain about right now, of course. But it seems that architects and urban planners are using their time wisely. By looking at our environments with a more careful eye and thinking about what really needs to be there (and what could be done better) we can all help to improve our future cities.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / UAE

Art support

Art Dubai would be entering its penultimate day of proceedings today and while much of the postponed fair’s works can be viewed – and bought – online, the UAE has found another way of supporting the community. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy has been busy buying AED1.5m (€373,000) worth of art (and counting) from emerging and established Emirati artists as a means of backing them through these tricky times. The works are intended for exhibition in UAE embassies, with Emirati diplomats from around the world consulted as to the pieces best suited to their respective locales. In the works since 2018, the current situation has jumpstarted the programme, with this initial stage already seeing art purchased for 10 embassies. The UAE has an eye to filling all of its embassies and missions – more than 100 sites. That should keep their artists busy.

Image: Getty Images


Stomach for the fight

The restaurant business around the world has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. But as many places are forced to close and switch to a takeaway-only model, they’re showing resilience. Some are appealing to our better selves, such as Japanese spot Bessou in New York: for every meal purchased for takeout or delivery, the restaurant will donate another to a child in need.

Others are taking to social media: a group of restaurants in the US organised a one-day Great American Takeout initiative earlier this week, causing a surge in sales: Velvet Taco in Dallas said that it exceeded its sales goals that day by 61 per cent. When the chips are down, ingenuity might just make the difference.

Image: Getty Images

Fashion / UK

Undiscovered talent

For students in creative industries, graduate shows represent a big moment to shine. Yet many events slated to be held in the coming months are being cancelled. It’s a blow for both the students and the industries that will be all the poorer for having missed a chance to discover up-and-coming talent. This week, a few days after London’s Royal College of Art decided to make its graduate exhibition an online-only affair, Graduate Fashion Week cancelled its runway gala. The fashion event, usually held in London in June, brings together the work of students from more than 40 universities around the world and attracts more than 30,000 guests. It’s a major platform for young designers and, while the organisation behind it is exploring online alternatives, nothing can replace witnessing youthful creativity and verve in person. Spare a thought for the next generation of talent who will need to work extra hard to break through.

Culture / Los Angeles

Heritage sites

For those stuck indoors and missing their cultural fix, several iconic Los Angeles institutions have ramped up their digital presence in the past week. The Getty Center, Getty Villa and Getty Library are presenting exhibitions online, including Michelangelo: Mind of the Master (pictured), as well as an array of art books available for download. The Natural History Museum has posted several videos, including the story of the discovery of the tiniest dinosaur to date; and the Museum of Contemporary Art has launched a series of online activities, including film night on Thursdays, live videos from an artist’s home on Saturdays and a virtual book club every Sunday. And if you’re looking for music then the Grammy Museum has got you covered: it’s streaming never-before-released interviews with artists and musicians that have been recorded over the institution’s 12-year history. Time to get comfortable.

Image: Francis Ware

M24 / On Design

Architecture and the media, design in Asia and Josef Frank

This week we offer some design-minded diversions from the heavy headlines. We talk design in Asia with Hong Kong-based editor Suzy Annetta and Josh Fehnert discusses how Austrian designer Josef Frank found favour in Sweden.

Monocle Films / Global

Marrakech, Tangier +

Marrakech can be full of dirty details but exploring Morocco is just fine at 90km/h. Take out some cash and jump in.
Available now at The Monocle Shop.


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