Tuesday. 7/9/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Breathing new life

Though you might still spot the odd mask, a survey of the sunny streets of Milan’s Brera Design District shows just how far the city has come since those desolate early days of the pandemic. As I write, the area is buzzing with people; cafés and bars are packed. There’s also a steady stream of design aficionados flowing into Monocle’s pop-up space, a collaboration with Swiss modular systems specialists USM, which is housed at Brera’s Rossignoli bike shop. This is Salone del Mobile at its best, enlivening the Italian city and bathing in the kind of fine weather that it usually enjoys when it takes place in April.

The world’s biggest design event is very different from other major creative-industry happenings. While fashion weeks flood cities with journalists and foreign businesspeople, Salone attracts just as many Milanese to its citywide exhibitions at furniture showrooms, museums and, yes, bike shops. Speaking to a real-estate agent who looks after properties in Brera, where many of the events are held, I learned that there are very few vacant shops here in spite of the pandemic. A sprawling showroom space was recently leased out after bids from no fewer than five international furniture firms.

Industry events from motor shows to fashion showcases have much to learn from Salone and the same goes for the cities that support them. With urban shopping districts and hospitality precincts the world over still reeling from the pandemic, the sight of a city and its businesses piggybacking on a global event and celebrating it with all of their citizens is just what the doctor ordered.

For more from Milan, listen to our regular check-ins across Monocle 24 this week and pick up a copy of Monocle’s ‘Salone’ newspaper.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Guinea

Hostile takeover

The political turmoil in Guinea has reached a crisis point after military officers dissolved the government and stormed the presidential palace in the capital, Conakry. The West African nation’s long-time president, Alpha Condé, is reportedly in detention and a nationwide curfew has been declared. Both the African Union and UN have condemned the coup, demanding Condé’s immediate release, but the president’s toppling is not altogether surprising. When he took office in 2010, Condé became Guinea’s first democratically elected president and dubbed himself “Guinea’s Mandela”. Yet his commitment to democratic values dwindled after he amended the constitution to allow himself to stand as president for a third term last year. Soldiers reportedly plan to discuss a peaceful transition with ousted cabinet members but Guineans are bracing for a period of turbulence. Whether or not Condé might have brought this on himself, a swift return to civilian rule is paramount.

Image: Courtesy of MIPIM

Business / France

Time to get real

September is the month of trade-fair bouncebacks and it’s not just Milan’s Salone del Mobile (see above) or Munich’s IAA Mobility (see below) getting in on the action. The global property fair Mipim in Cannes, France, is kicking off its 2021 edition today. Like Salone, it moved its dates due to the pandemic (it’s ordinarily held in March) and is what director Ronan Vaspart tells Monocle is a “condensed event”.

While the streamlined fair might be two days rather than four and skew more towards Europe than previous editions, Vaspart says that many will be attending digitally, from countries such as the US and Japan. There will also be plenty to discuss, from how to give a boost to property sectors such as retail and hospitality to sustainable development in the aftermath of the pandemic. “There is a new paradigm,” Vaspart says. “And we need to think about it.”

Media / UK

Beyond satire

The UK’s Private Eye has long been a print-media success story. Its circulation has continued to rise and it now sells an impressive 237,000 copies per issue. Print remains key for the publication; it has no “digital-first” strategy. This year, the title is celebrating six decades on the newsstands with Private Eye: The 60 Yearbook by journalist Adam Macqueen, who has worked at the title since the Blair years. In it, Macqueen explores the main news stories of the era through the sharp eyes of the magazine’s gifted writers. Private Eye has managed to grow organically throughout its history but Macqueen tells Monocle that many publishers today would likely be puzzled if someone proposed a title that “mixes serious investigative journalism with jokes”. Its enduring appeal, he says, stems from its quirky approach. “It’s very old-fashioned in a way and our readers do appreciate that.”

Hear more from Adam Macqueen and his new book on the latest episode of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Felix Brüggemann

Automotive / Germany

Gearing up

The IAA Mobility fair opens its doors to the public today in Munich. More than 1,000 exhibitors and speakers will be showcasing their innovations and ushering the automotive industry into a greener future. We sat down with the IAA’s communications director, Lutz Meyer, for a preview.

What’s in the name change?
We changed the name to underline that we’re not focusing on cars any more. Mobility encompasses so much more: it’s bikes and scooters; it’s the connection between cars and buses, self-driving vehicles and the underground. Individual mobility has to be reconsidered. We’re bringing it all together here in Munich.

How has the show opened itself up to Munich this year?
We’re displaying what is new in its marketplaces and beautiful squares. We’re also introducing for the first time a test-driving strip between the fairground and downtown Munich. We have more than 250 different cars that visitors can test-drive to get a feeling of what the new car can deliver and provide for their lives.

Where do you see mobility going in the future?
We have two global trends. The first one is electric; we need to meet the Paris climate goals and the German automotive industry has to deliver carbon neutrality by 2045 at the latest. The second is digitalisation: how can we connect the car to other devices? And how can we bring autonomous driving onto the street?

Listen to ‘The Globalist’ for the full interview with Lutz Meyer and more reports from the IAA Mobility in Munich.

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

A New Dawn for Zambia?

It was a case of sixth time lucky for Hakainde Hichilema, who has become Zambia’s new president after five unsuccessful attempts. He inherits a troubled economy but his victory has raised hopes for change. How has he triumphed at last? And what effect might he have on aspiring leaders across Africa? Andrew Mueller speaks to Bizeck J Phiri, Michael Kaluba and Steph Chungu.

Monocle Films / Global

The Monocle Book of Gentle Living

From how to make the most of your free time to rethinking the way you work, shop and even sleep, this book is packed with tips for making good things happen, doing something you care about and finding a slower pace of life that’s kinder to yourself, those around you and the planet.

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