Friday 7 August 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 7/8/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Toast of the town

For those working in the design industry, any visit to Milan should be capped off with a stop at Bar Basso. The bar – with its handsome brass trimmings, decent alfresco seating and smiling, well-groomed waiters – heaves with custom every April during the annual Salone del Mobile and runs a tidy business year-round. It was at Bar Basso that I found myself on a recent July evening, happily enjoying a well-earned Aperol spritz after a day spent reporting for Monocle’s Italy Innovation special, which will be published with our October issue.

I sat with the spot’s perpetually jolly owner, Maurizio Stocchetto (pictured), a cigarette protruding from his half-masked mouth. The atmosphere remained buzzy but he spoke of a year that’s been very different to others: no Milanese fashion brands flying him and his team to Seoul to cater glamorous events; no hedonistic Salone evenings either. My host for the evening was Valentina Ciuffi of Milan-based graphic-design agency Studio Vedèt, which has an office not far from the bar. This week the studio launched the digital platform Bar Basso Allstars. Through charming photography and classy design, the website tells the stories behind the people who kept Bar Basso moving while the world paused.

It’s a team that’s representative of all that is good about the Milanese – warm, welcoming and as gracious with foreigners who are only able to drop by once a year as they are with those fortunate enough to work around the corner. As next month’s fashion and design weeks approach, I’m excited to be spending time in the city among an international crowd at Bar Basso. This, after all, is an institution with a very large extended family.

Image: Getty Images

Society / Lebanon

Who will take the lead?

“It’s devastation; there’s nobody [here] but people – there’s not one state organism doing anything,” Kamal Mouzawak, a food campaigner and longtime friend of Monocle, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing from Beirut yesterday. For Mouzawak and others there might have been no greater sign of the leadership vacuum after Tuesday’s explosion than contrasting a personal and heartfelt visit to the city by Emmanuel Macron (pictured) yesterday with the more scripted, distant approach of Lebanese president Michel Aoun. “It’s a sign of just how much things have to change,” says Jeffrey Feltman, former US ambassador to Lebanon. The international community will be quick to provide emergency aid but Lebanon won’t receive more long-term support, says Feltman, “until there’s confidence in the leadership of the country”. “The Lebanese do not have confidence in their leaders right now,” he adds. “And the international community does not have confidence in their leaders [either]. So there needs to be a leadership change to move Lebanon forward.”

Defence / Arctic

At full melt

Operation Nanook, Canada’s annual defence exercise aimed at improving armed forces’ operations in the north, launched earlier this week with the participation of France, Denmark and the US. It is the first time that all four nations have participated in the exercise together, marking a new level of co-operation in a region that is growing in geopolitical significance, having attracted the interest of China and Russia. Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, says that a military confrontation in the Arctic is unlikely; the exercise is more about ensuring interoperability among allies.

“Because we’re expecting more vessel traffic in the Arctic, we have to know how to operate together, mostly in search-and-rescue scenarios,” says Charron. While this year’s drill is scaled down to focus exclusively on naval exercises (land-based activity could spread coronavirus to northern populations), Charron says that it should still help all four militaries learn how to work better with one another – under unusual circumstances.

Image: Es Devlin & Machiko Weston

Arts / London

Splitting the atom

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the atomic-bomb attack on Hiroshima. To observe the occasion, set designer and artist Es Devlin and her longtime partner, Japanese artist Machiko Weston, presented a film (pictured) on the top floor of the Imperial War Museum in London. One side of the screen featured testimonies, in simple text, of Japanese survivors, while the other offered the accounts of the US officials and scientists behind the attack. “Our point of entry into this was addressing perspective,” says Devlin, noting that the work (which can also be viewed online) was designed not so much to dwell on the past as to educate people about the Japanese point of view and its impact on the nation, even today. “The Japanese, no matter where we are, still hear the voices of the victims on this day,” says Weston. It’s an intelligent work of art that finds some small way for us all to remember.

Media / New Zealand

Strong foundations

New Zealanders have a new magazine dedicated to the country’s architecture scene. Here was founded by Simon Farrell-Green, a one-time Monocle correspondent and former editor of Home, New Zealand’s oldest architecture title, which ceased publication earlier this year along with two of the country’s other architecture magazines. Farrell-Green says that his new bi-monthly title will cover similar topics but with a different look. “The magazine is much more of an artefact, with higher production values and guest art directors for every issue to make it feel fresh and relevant,” he says. He’s convinced that there’s a market for the title. “New Zealanders are big magazine readers: per capita we have more titles than most countries in the world. It speaks to our need to retreat and relax.” So what defines a New Zealand home? “A good New Zealand house doesn’t tend to look too shiny,” says Farrell-Green. “There is a modesty and understatement to it.” Listen to the full interview on tomorrow’s edition of The Stack on Monocle 24.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Ace & Tate and SkandiHus

Mark de Lange is the founder of Amsterdam-based eyewear brand Ace & Tate, which has more than doubled its retail footprint to 65 locations since we last spoke to De Lange in 2018. We ask him about moving the brand forwards and how the brand’s focus on sustainability has a lot to do with bricks and mortar. Plus: we meet lawyer-cum-ceramics designer Stine Dulong to hear about turning her passion into a business, SkandiHus.

Monocle Films / Global

Healthy income

As the fitness business pulls in new and inventive players, how can cities encourage their citizens to live healthier lives?


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