Monday 3 May 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 3/5/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Nic Monisse

Points of view

If you, like me, have ever borne witness to an argument between neighbours, you’ll know that things can get ugly. Once, on my street, an additional storey was added to a home that overlooked a neighbour’s backyard and hot tub (whose occupants were known to skinny dip), while also blocking their idyllic view. The result was naked aggression from the neighbour (read: hot-tubber) who was having their view obstructed and, sadly for them, a failed appeal to block the extension.

Former Montréal mayor Denis Coderre seems less afraid of a fight, and is in danger of riling everyone from neighbours to architects and opposition politicians. Coderre has announced that, if re-elected later this year (he lost the top job in 2017), the city’s sacred 232.5 metre limit on the height of a building would be scrapped to pave the way for even taller buildings. Almost everyone in the city is outraged at the plan. This is partly due to the fact that it wouldn’t achieve Coderre’s desired effect of increasing density. Building codes mean that tall skyscrapers often have a glut of lifeless, empty space at their base, while smaller buildings are often able to comfortably pack more people in – and promote a more vibrant street life.

Anger also swirls around the fact that the legislation change might open the door for developers to create buildings that fundamentally alter the city’s character. Views to Mount Royal’s peak – one of the initial reasons for the cap – have come to define living in Québec’s largest city. Backlash against Coderre should serve as a reminder for politicians and government officials everywhere that the features that make a city special should be protected; if they aren’t, its residents will fight for them. Here’s hoping that in Montréal the outcome is happier than in my neighbourhood, that views (in both senses of the word) are respected and that the city itself isn’t denuded by poor planning and tall tales about density.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / UK

Face time

For the first time in two years, the G7’s foreign and development ministers will gather in London today, hosted in person by UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab (pictured). The meetings, which run until Wednesday, are a tentative first step in the return of face-to-face diplomacy, ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit that is scheduled to take place in Cornwall in June. This week’s agenda will focus on vaccine equity (particularly the situation in India), climate change and the group’s response to security and human rights issues in Myanmar, North Korea and Russia. “This meeting with key partners will allow us to strengthen our co-ordinated responses to challenges posed by coronavirus,” said Canada’s foreign minister, Marc Garneau, in a statement ahead of today’s summit. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to present a common front on these pressing issues.” Meaningful diplomacy is often aided by informal chats and sideline summits that can’t be done as easily from behind a computer screen. This week’s in-person meetings should be watched closely.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Hong Kong

Leave to remain

Hong Kong’s immigration director has been given the power to block inward and outgoing travel. Authorities say that the new law, which was approved last week, is designed to help to prevent illegal immigration but the fact that anyone can be stopped from getting on a plane has understandably sparked concerns. It comes as many pro-democracy supporters have already left or are considering leaving Hong Kong due to the effect of the national security law passed last year; a recent survey also found that a majority of Hong Kongers between the ages of 15 and 30 are thinking about emigrating.

Shibani Mahtani, The Washington Post’s Hong Kong bureau chief, says that talk of leaving is widespread, even as authorities brief businesses on why Hong Kong remains the world’s gateway to China. “It really does seem like they’re trying to have it both ways,” she told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “Whether it will be read like this by the business community remains to be seen.”

For more on the situation in Hong Kong, listen to Monocle’s own Hong Kong bureau chief on today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Media / France

Franc exchange

French magazine L’étiquette has long been a delightful compendium of men’s clothing and fashion – and has even graced the pages of Monocle. Since its launch, the title has had a cult following outside France. It is this international reach that led the team behind L’étiquette to recently release its first English-language edition, on newsstands now. Editorial director Marc Beaugé says that the interest from outside the Francophone world was unexpected but welcome. “We realised some of our readers from other countries wanted to read our texts in English as well,” he tells Monocle 24’s The Stack, adding that the magazine’s main markets outside France are the US, the UK and Japan. The new version, out since April, is a straight copy of the French magazine but nonetheless a welcome addition to the English-speaking magazine world.

To hear more from Beaugé, listen to a special edition of ‘[The Stack]’(, on men’s magazines, on Monocle 24.

Culture / UK

Shows must go on

On Saturday, Brighton & Hove hosted the opening day of the year’s first multi-arts festival in the UK. Measures such as distancing guidelines and the holding of some talks online mean that the 2021 edition of the Brighton Festival isn’t marking a full return to pre-coronavirus operations but the programme does include a number of in-person outdoor events and, if all goes to plan, dozens of indoor performances from 17 May too. Though the overall mood is one of celebration, many of the festival’s performances and installations carry an elegiac note. Arrivals & Departures (pictured), an interactive artwork by Yara & Davina, located in Brighton’s grand Royal Pavilion Gardens, will celebrate the city’s recent births and deaths on a digital airport-style billboard. Such examples are befitting of this year’s theme, “care”, according to the festival’s guest director, poet Lemn Sissay. “As we emerge out of the pandemic, it’s really important that we take care of ourselves and take care of others,” he tells The Monocle Minute.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Eureka 242: The New Craftsmen

In the second part of our feature on supporting artisans and makers, we meet Catherine Lock, who is co-founder and creative director of The New Craftsmen. The brand works with a range of top makers from across the British Isles, curating and supporting their work which is sold online and at its Mayfair showroom in London. Launched in 2012, the brand works with designers and artisans making everything from furniture and lighting to art textiles and tableware.

Monocle Films / New Zealand

Christchurch School: sunny modernism

We explore a New Zealand take on mid-century modern architecture that fused British brutalism with a Scandinavian aesthetic. The simple construction methods of the Christchurch School’s creative homes have endured changing tastes – and earthquakes too.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00