Monday. 23/11/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Ed Stocker

All or nothing

Since he lost the election, Donald Trump has seen demonstrators taking to the streets to tell him that he’s fired – an allusion to his days hosting The Apprentice. During his time in office, critics have shouted much harsher things, including calling him an “autocrat”. Yet, until now, that has seemed an unwarranted accusation because, even if the winner-takes-all, first-to-270-votes system is flawed, Trump won the 2016 election democratically.

This time around, while there was no blue wave, Joe Biden’s victory is clear and pronounced. In response, however, Trump has sent emails calling for money for the “Election Defense Fund” and has made attempts to overturn results in Michigan. He is now on a slippery slope that risks adding merit to the accusations of him being an autocrat.

Will Trump relinquish the fight? Surely he must but the damage to US soft power will outlast his time in office. America’s standing also took a blow after George W Bush’s presidency and it took years for both nation and man to recover their reputations. People wondered how the so-called world’s policeman – and proud defender of freedom – could behave in this way? Even with the passing of time, it’s unlikely that Trump will obtain the sort of cuddly-grandpa resurrection that Bush is enjoying – because that would involve Trump staying out of the limelight.

Conflict / Ethiopia

Destructive forces

For more than a fortnight, government forces in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia have been engaged in an offensive against the once-dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Reports suggest that the situation is dire and, because of an information blackout in the region, the accounts of those who have fled are the main source of knowledge about what is taking place. “There are heart-rending stories of loss of life and suffering,” Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, tells Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “We were helping a million people in Tigray before the current problems,” says Lowcock, who first visited the region 35 years ago in the wake of a famine that left about a million dead. Yet he witnessed huge advances in infrastructure and civic development over subsequent years. “What’s tragic about what’s happening now is the danger that all of that [progress] could be put at risk,” he says.

Aviation / Global

Plane speaking

There will be much to discuss at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week. It will be hosted virtually by KLM in Amsterdam – and, of course, that demonstrates the major issue the meeting will have to address: when will people be allowed to travel freely again? A number of prominent carriers are struggling, especially those that haven’t been bailed out by governments. Norwegian Airlines is the latest casualty but even Easyjet, a normally profitable low-cost airline, has made a huge loss this year.

Successful trials for vaccinations against coronavirus suggest that an end to the pandemic might be in sight, while rapid pre-flight tests are also being touted as an option to kick-start the travel industry. Even so, “aviation faces an unprecedented employment catastrophe,” according to Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general. “If governments fail to act and support aviation, not only will they hurt the industry but the impact will be hard felt by society at large.”

Urbanism / New York

Build for business

The way we in which public space in cities is utilised is a key factor in helping small businesses to thrive. This idea is behind a new initiative by the Design Trust for Public Space and the New York City Department of Small Business Services. With a grant of $125,000 (€105,000), the project – snappily named Neighborhood Commons: Plazas, Sidewalks, and Beyond – will provide investment in New York’s urban landscape as a way to help businesses recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes creating pedestrianised squares, increasing space for outdoor restaurants and cafés, and making streets more accessible. “Innovation is key when envisioning how New York City communities manage public spaces for long-term resilience and recovery,” says Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. The project is expected to run until 2022.

Business / Zürich

Retail landscape

While high streets are less busy than they usually would be at this time of year, a concept shop in Zürich is proving that retailers still have new ideas. Enea, a company that rose to prominence as a landscape-architecture firm, has taken over two floors of a fine 19th-century building to create Outside In, a permanent space with multiple purposes. Founder Enzo Enea has recruited Italian interiors specialist Chiara Butti to form a beautiful space that not only showcases the fine materials Enea uses in its landscape architecture and interiors projects but also offers products that reflect the firm’s values. Shoppers can spot one-of-a-kind vintage furniture from Oscar Niemeyer as well as contemporary wares from Italian leather and wood specialists – all in an atmosphere that might entice them to commission Enea for a more expansive project.

M24 / The Menu

Story of Fäviken

Magnus Nilsson on why he decided to close his famed restaurant Fäviken in rural Sweden. Also in the programme: wine recommendations from Swiss expert Chandra Kurt and a recipe by Nigella Lawson.

Monocle Films / Italy & Japan

The talent-seeker: Ryutaro Yoshida

To celebrate this year’s Milano Design City – a downsized version of the annual Salone del Mobile – we take a closer look at one of our favourite exhibitors. Here we trace the collaboration between Italy’s Boffi De Padova and Japan’s Time & Style all the way to the remote region of Shimane, meeting the artisans that craft these special products.

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