Saturday 17 July 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 17/7/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

OPENER / Andrew Tuck

Sight seeing

  1. A few days in Palma de Mallorca, staying at the new apartment. For the double-jabbed, travel is getting easier and this time I don’t need a coronavirus test to enter Spain, just to complete a simple locator form. The UK wants two tests: one to get back in and another two days after getting home. But we are learning to deal with these demands, do all the paperwork and keep moving. And although the Balearic Islands have gone from the UK’s green to amber status this week, it makes no difference to the double-jabbed, who can still travel there without having to quarantine. Why bother though?

The plane leaves London with rain cascading down the fuselage and then, just a couple of hours later, we are in the hire car driving under unblemished blue skies into Palma, past the imposing cathedral, past the marina, past the grand old waterfront houses and up towards the tennis club and our miniature pad. And, like the car, you effortlessly shift gear as you head down those streets. Even your eyes work better; you look around, taking in every sight. Even after being here so many times, you feel a little excited.

I thought I had come to know the city reasonably well over the years but perhaps some of the excitement also comes from realising that it’s even more special than I had imagined. I have breakfast at Cafè Riutort with my friend Roberto, the potter, and afterwards we snake through the old stone-paved streets to his new shop, where he sells his vases and his business partner in this venture sells orchids. The shop is painted dark blue – and is called Blu. It is a little gem. The manager is busy misting the orchids; Roberto fixes the display. The shop sits on a stepped alley called Costa de Can Muntaner and in the neighbouring buildings are a design shop, a seller of vintage furniture and a dressmaker. So much to discover. Then we curl up towards the food market Mercat de l’Olivar, where the stalls, little cafés and shops are already doing a brisk trade. He then shows me a giant ancient tree, a new farmers’ market, a hidden bar, a secret garden and his favourite place for ice-cream. I hope that I would be as generous with my time and address book, in making a city’s life that bit easier to navigate for a newbie.

And I also hope that these, and many more, will become places that I will know and use too. I have never lived anywhere except the UK and being able to have the beginning of some roots here in Palma is a privilege and one that I value more than I had expected. Over the past 18 months we have come to understand the value of home, the need to be able to stay still and wait for better times – but to then be somewhere else is even more delicious when it finally happens.

  1. A spectacles company has sent me a link to its app. I need it because there’s a scanning option that lets you create a sort of 3D map of your face, which in turn gives them the precise measurements of, say, the bridge of your nose. You stare into your phone’s camera, twist your head right and left and, in seconds, up pops a very detailed picture of your visage. At first when I looked at the completed scan I thought I had mistakenly jumped to a picture of the Elephant Man or perhaps one of those images used by archaeologists to reconstruct what some wizened mummified body might have looked like when alive.

I decided to do the scan again; no way were they having this on their records. This time my face resembled a geographical surveyor’s map of the ocean floor – I apparently have creases deeper than the freaking Mariana Trench. I was only surprised not to spot the odd shipwreck embedded in my crumpled forehead. “I am not sending them this,” I huffily told the other half, who, annoyingly, didn’t seem that surprised by the picture. “Do you think I actually look like this? Like that cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants?” His response was far from convincing but he agreed that we could do it again and that he would art direct. But then he glanced at my phone and said, “Too late, it seems you have already sent it.”

So now there’s an eyewear engineer somewhere in the world trying to make a pair of glasses that would look good on a sponge. Let’s see how this one ends.


Winning qualities

Although the Euros might have kicked off in Rome in June, it has to be said that many Romans initially seemed ambivalent (writes David Plaisant). Perhaps war-weary after lockdowns and curfews – and understandably turned off by the garish corporate-sponsored “fan zones” in locations throughout the city centre – many decided to stay at home rather than venture out to watch the games. However, as Azzurri progressed through the tounament, the national team astonished and delighted even the most reluctant fans when they eventually carried home the championship cup.

For a more historic view of Italy’s sporting prowess, take a visit to the impressive Stadio Dei Marmi training ground (pictured). Built in 1932, it is a fascist-era affair but thankfully the bulging buttocks and ripped torsos of the statues make for more of a temple to homoeroticism than to anything else. Not far away, more subtle sporting architecture comes with the Villaggio Olimpico, the 1960 complex built for athletes that is now a leafy, modernist community popular with creatives and people in the know. In these parts is Perilli al Flaminio, a white-tablecloth restaurant that specialises in an ever-changing buffet of local specialities to nourish even the most famished of athletes.

In the swankier northwest of the city, the home of the late futurist painter Giacomo Balla on Via Oslavia has just been opened permanently to the public and is managed by the Maxxi museum. Kaleidoscopic interior decor abounds. And from there, it’s a short hop back to the centre and Piazza del Popolo, where the best place to enjoy the city’s jubilation is the Hotel Locarno’s terrace, which has rooftop vistas and superb cocktails. But don’t wait until the next championship to while away an evening there: it’s a sure-fire winner on its own.


Dangerous liaisons

If there’s one thing we know about a buttoned-up culture, it’s this: somewhere, somehow, people will still get it on (writes Marjorie Perry). In Japan this has taken the shape of its famous “love hotels”, offering double rooms for short time-spans so that unmarried couples (or anyone else) can sneak off for a quick tête-à-tête without fear of their relatives’ judgement. In China, where hotels are off-limits to those under 18, the upshot of repressed amorousness has taken a rather different form among late teens.

Private cinemas have been a godsend for Chinese adolescents still living with their parents, and university students who typically share densely packed dorms. Instead of providing boring old reclining chairs, these spaces offer a variety of secluded double beds. Venues have names such as “Only Want to Be With You” or “Queen Kiss” and rooms can be rented for a minimum of two hours. No form of identification is required.

Whether these “love cinemas” will be around forever is up for debate. Regarding tight-lipped attitudes nationwide, things appear to be changing: this year China passed a law requiring age-appropriate sex education to be taught in schools, suggesting a growing willingness to talk about the birds, bees and everything in between. It’s about time. Though we all know that many sex-ed teachers are awkward and ill-qualified to shed much light on such matters, it still seems a sight better than leaving the country’s youths to feel their way in the dark.


Clash and carry

Fashion designers often turn to art, architecture or the natural world for inspiration (writes Jamie Waters). But judging by a pair of boots I spotted while out in Hackney recently, it appears that Spanish brand Paloma Wool has looked instead to the ample storage of the filing cabinet. These boots, possessing a block heel and ending just below the knee, have sleeves on the side for pens and other stationery, buckled pockets (for a mini notepad?) and a column of credit-card slots. Although they have a whiff of “art project” about them, they are firmly on trend.

Increasing demand for utilitarian styles, hiking garb, 2000s staples including cargo pants (gulp) and fishing-inspired attire means that there is an abundance of clothes and accessories loaded with pockets, nooks and flaps. Japanese fly-fishing brand South2 West8 caused a stir recently when it collaborated with Supreme on a line of psychedelic-patterned vests and jackets affixed with pockets the size of small suitcases. Prada sells combat boots with pouches fastened to the ankle, while perennially cool surfwear brand Stussy makes bucket hats with a self-fastened slip. I recently bought a jumper from Japanese brand Sacai that has a zip-up compartment on the bicep just big enough for my headphone case, gum and hand sanitiser.

Some innovations might border on gimmicky but treating fashion items as storage solutions (and highlighting, rather than hiding, the pockets) is a natural extension of the general shift towards ever-more functional clothing. And, especially on days when we’re working from home, we only need a handful of essentials when going for a walk around the block. Why lug around a tote when you can stash these into a hat – or, indeed, a pair of chunky calf-leather boots?


Turning the table

After taking over as president and CEO of Danish furniture brand Fritz Hansen in 2019, Josef Kaiser moved to Copenhagen. It was a shift from what he was used to, having worked for furniture designer Vitra as chief sales officer at its Basel HQ for years beforehand. But he’s been getting into the right mindset by spending more time on his bicycle and working on his Danish by reading a few of his favourite national publications. Here he tells us more about his media diet.

What news source do you wake up to?
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Financial Times on my phone.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines?
A nice cappuccino beats everything. I make the almond milk myself and have an outstanding Swiss coffee machine that grinds the beans, giving me the perfect start to the day.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
I prefer to make my own playlists of easy jazz on Apple Music.

Magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?
I’m practising my Danish with [interiors and lifestyle magazine] Bo Bedre but also enjoy NZZ am Sontag, Monocle’s The Entrepreneurs, and various blogs for food inspiration.

Newspaper that you turn to?
As well as the FT and NZZ, I like Danish business paper Børsen.

Favourite bookshop?
Thiemers Magasin in Tullinsgade has a good mix of books and coffee, and a great neighbourhood feel.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched on TV recently?
I actually don’t watch TV. In fact, we don’t have one in our home. I had one in Switzerland but since we never used it, it never made the move to Denmark.

What’s your cultural obsession?
In the short time I’ve lived here, I’ve visited the Louisiana Museum quite a lot. The garden, architecture, exhibitions and friendly people make it a pleasure to come back to.

And what’s your movie genre of choice?
If I ever watch one it’s on my computer or iPad. I recently watched Paradise War with my wife – the incredible story of Bruno Manser, who devoted his life to saving the rainforest.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off?
Live music from the nearby open-air food market Reffen, which I can hear when the wind blows across the harbour and through my bedroom window.


Spiking interest

‘Witches of the Orient’, Julien Faraut. Enthusiasm in the lead-up to the Olympics might have been slightly dampened but if you’re looking to get in the mood for the games as the opening ceremony approaches, this film should do the trick. French documentary film-maker Julien Faraut has unearthed the story of a group of factory workers turned volleyball players who made Japanese history by triumphing in the 1964 Olympics – inspiring some of the country’s most famous manga and anime in the process.

‘Alpha’, Charlotte Day Wilson. The Toronto-based singer’s debut album has been in the works for a fair few years but the result is worth the wait. Skipping through the tracklist delivers a remarkably heterogeneous selection of styles of R&B, from the chilled-out soul of “I Can Only Whisper” (in collaboration with another acclaimed Canadian act, Badbadnotgood) to a touch of gospel in “If I Could” and the sultriness of the 2000s-style “Take Care of You”. Still, her full-bodied, silky and versatile voice is the shining star of the record.

Gmunden Photo, Salzkammergut. Coming to Austria’s popular holiday region for the first time, Gmunden Photo is a photography festival that’s assembled quite the line-up of snappers, from Elfie Semiotan to Feng Li. Also on display is a project by ultra-glamorous Austrian DJ Wolfram, who is proudly displaying his passion for fast cars inside one of the boxy white containers that make up this show.


Ace up the sleeve

Raglan is a coastal town in New Zealand that’s famous for its surf breaks and volcanic black-sand beaches (writes Carolina Abbot Galvão). Rumour has it that if you catch a wave on Manu Bay, you can cruise on it for 2km – if you’ve been practising, that is. But according to Aaron Mooar, who manages Raglan’s community radio station, there’s actually a lot more to the town. “It’s unique in other ways too,” he says. “There are a lot of interesting organisations doing new things here: our community recycling centre was among the first of its kind. We also have a thriving arts centre.” Below, Mooar tells us about Raglan’s latest news, forthcoming events and the town’s music scene.

What’s the big news this week?
There’s some controversy around the sewage system here. People want land-based sewage instead of it going out to sea. Most of the community here is very environmentally focused, so people would like to see that. Also, decades ago when the council got a town sewage system, they decided to put it on a piece of land that was sacred to Māori people, so it’s particularly offensive to them. To be honest, the situation is kind of a microcosm of New Zealand’s issues.

And what kind of music do you play?
The vibe is anything goes, really. DJs get to choose what they play, so we have everything: a grandmother who plays country and gospel, people who play the hippest music possible, as well as some guys who like to play blues, jazz, and drum and bass.

Do you have a favourite broadcast moment?
We have a community day here called Māori Dolphin Day. I think there are only 50 members of the species left on the coast here, so we celebrate them by having a recycled raft race in the harbour. This year, we took our studio down there for the first time and broadcast the event from a little tent on the sand. We really enjoyed that.


In step

Luxury shoe and leather goods brand Tod’s is teaming up with Japanese label Hender Scheme for the latest iteration of its collaboration series T Factory. Launched in 2018, the programme sees the Italian brand working alongside designers and artists from around the world, with the selected talents given creative freedom to produce a collection that taps into Tod’s craftsmanship and knowhow. The three previous collaborations saw the Tod’s team working alongside Alessandro dell’Acqua, the late Alber Elbaz and Maiko Kurogouchi.

For this fourth Italian job, a unisex capsule collection, Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi (pictured) is working closely with his Tokyo-based counterpart Ryo Kashiwazaki. The 35-year-old Japanese designer specialises in high-end leather products and became well known after his artistic direction of Hender Scheme’s Hommage series, in which a team of craftsmen in Tokyo deconstructed and recreated iconic footwear from the likes of Nike, Adidas and Reebok using natural leather.

The brands’ shared commitment to quality handcrafting makes this Italian-Japanese alliance one to look out for when it launches on the runways of Milan in September.


Wall conquering

It hasn’t been a billboard year for posters (writes Alex Briand). But gone, finally, are the days of barely populated subway escalators and their time-warp slogans promising an enthralling spring 2020. Cities are full again and we’re ready to fall back in love with wall art. Enter Poster Auctions International (PAI), which has been selling “rare, vintage and highly sought-after posters” from Rennert’s Gallery on New York’s West 17th Street three times a year since 1985. Its forthcoming Rare Posters sale, taking place in person and online on 20 July, contains a wealth of antique lithographs and advertising art dating back to the 19th century.

In 1989, PAI sold a print of Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Moulin Rouge” for $220,000 (€186,000), a record at the time. Now another framed edition of its limited 3,000-copy run from 1891 is up for sale – with an estimated price starting at $230,000 (€194,600). Indeed, seven of the sale’s 10 highest estimates are for works by Toulouse-Lautrec. But there are also fantastic bargains to be had, with many prints expected to sell for less than $1,000 (€850). Our favourite? Giacinto Mondaini’s dramatic art deco collage advertising the third Salone dell’Automobile in 1930, which is expected to sell for up to $9,000 (€7,600).

Elsewhere, the UK’s Ewbank Auctions often has a healthy stock of cinema memorabilia and is holding a Vintage Posters live auction from 20 to 22 July. A Thunderball poster (pictured) with artwork by Robert McGinnis is expected to sell for up to £5,000 (€5,900). Similar sales take place the world over and are a great way to liven up walls without breaking the bank. Just promise us that you’ll stay away from the Blu-Tack.;


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