Friday 3 June 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 3/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Natalie Mohadjer

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Forward thinking

Today Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference begins in earnest in Paris at Le19M, the Chanel-backed centre for crafts. And the setting couldn’t be more apt. Our conference aims to make people think afresh about how cities are made, artisan skills cherished, businesses look beyond their front doors at the communities around them and, here we are, in a building that addresses all of these subjects.

Designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti, Le19M new creative centre is dedicated to preserving traditional skills in the fashion industry and helping a new generation come to understand the value of this work and seek careers here. This is not a closed world: the doors are open to the public and exhibitions and workshops bring in people who perhaps once thought of this realm as untouchable. Even the location of Le19M, in the Aubervilliers neighbourhood, brings pride and confidence to a place that many Parisians might have rarely visited before.

When we think about the work of designers, landscapers, architects and fashion-brand owners, it’s tempting to presume that they have just one perspective, one discipline. But today the best in class deliver all sorts of rich lessons, suggestions and directions to consider. Speaking shortly at the conference is landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson who, across a long career, has reshaped parks and public realms from Washington to Hong Kong and is now the lead on the project to reimagine the park around the Eiffel Tower. When I caught up with her last week it was clear that, while her job involves plants and soil, it’s just as much about changing mobility patterns, helping deliver better environmental incomes and making cities healthier.

And this is why conferences such as Monocle’s work: in one room you have hundreds of people who don’t want to think in a siloed way but instead are keen to listen to intellectual cross-pollinators and then dive in with their own thoughts. It’s a place where, from building to dais, new perspectives are let loose. We’ll be sure to let you know some of what we learnt in the coming days – but sorry, I’m due on stage now.

Andrew Tuck is Monocle’s editor in chief.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Europe

Local appeal

Opening the Globsec Bratislava Forum on the banks of the Danube, Globsec president Robert Vass called the 2022 gathering “a conference on the frontline of democracy”. This year, it is no exaggeration. Just 500km away, “people are paying the highest price for values that we take for granted,” he noted. The highlights of the first day included European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) and a live address from Kyiv by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. To a packed house in the main Globsec tent, Zelensky invoked, as he often does, a local angle – using the Danube river that links Bratislava and other great European cities as a metaphor for the common cause that he believes Europe needs to locate. Zelensky was wearing a slightly flashier khaki t-shirt than previously – bearing a “Ukraine” patch and a blue and gold shoulder flash – and sporting unmissable dark circles beneath tired eyes. He asked for more weapons, and soon: “These are days of our people’s lives.”

Hear more from Andrew Mueller at the Globsec forum on the latest edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24. And tune in for a special episode of ‘The Foreign Desk’ from Bratislava tomorrow.

Image: Getty Images

Society / Hong Kong

Memory erasure

Tomorrow marks the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing in 1989. Though mention of the massacre has long been censored in mainland China, Hong Kong marked the anniversary for decades with a vigil that typically drew hundreds of thousands of people.

The government hasn’t banned the vigil outright but a national security law implemented in 2020 has had a chilling effect. The group that organises it disbanded last year after members were arrested, a statue dedicated to the 1989 protesters was forcibly removed from a university campus in December and Hong Kong’s Catholic churches announced last week that, for the first time, they won’t hold services commemorating the massacre for fear of violating the law. For 33 years, Hong Kong had been the only place on Chinese soil where citizens could publicly acknowledge the events of 4 June. Now that flame seems to have been snuffed out.

Image: Anthony Seklaoui/GUCCIxOURA

Fashion / Europe

Ringing true

Wearable technology is nothing new but until recently most companies’ designs, save for perhaps the Apple Watch, felt gimmicky at best. Over the past year curious metallic rings have been appearing on the fingers of public figures and fashion CEOs. These were smart rings developed by Finnish company Ōura; they stood out for their clean design and ability to offer health insights by tracking a wearer’s daily activity, heart rate and sleep patterns. Now Ōura is building on the momentum and delving further into luxury with Gucci. The companies have collaborated on a new design that features a titanium band with an interlocking G logo and yellow-gold finish details. Among their goals is gaining access to each others’ communities, which are on “a shared path towards greater well-being and self-realisation”, according to Gucci. It’s a fitting tie-in as fashion brands seek to build broader lifestyle offerings and become associated with more than just aesthetic values.

Image: Alamy

Transport / Germany

Questions of travel

Getting around Germany became much cheaper this month – by as much as 90 per cent in some cities. From the beginning of June the price for a monthly transit ticket has been reduced to just €9 for the summer months in an experiment intended to reduce pollution and curb reliance on Russian fuel. The cut covers the cost of trams, buses, subways and trains, and comes at a cost of about €2.5bn to the state. Some have criticised the move as an expensive overcorrection by a national coalition government that has been known to tilt in favour of the car industry, while others have raised concerns about overcrowding and the lack of a long-term solution. Train platforms across the country were packed on the first day with about seven million people buying the discounted ticket; 30 million people a month are expected to do so until the end of August. Whatever the cost, the scheme’s success might be in the eye of the commuter.

Monocle 24 / The Entrepreneurs

JKS Restaurants

Tuck into some tasty audio courtesy of the family behind one of the best and brightest in the London hospitality business. The Sethi’s JKS Restaurants is a capital institution, the founders having built up a group of decorated restaurants, delivery and retail brands, plus those of their partners. It’s quite the roll-call, with names like Gymkhana, Trishna, BAO, Hoppers and more. Since April, eyes and appetites have been focused on something new: the reopened Arcade Food Hall, London’s latest must-visit drinking, dining and entertainment hot spot in landmark Sixties Brutalist masterpiece, Centre Point.

Monocle Films / Greece

Athens: urban inspiration

Athenians have a knack for injecting pockets of greenery and a sense of innovation into their ancient city. Their urban interventions are aimed at cooling down this dense metropolis and safeguarding its sacred sights as much as the neighbourhood life. We climb its seven hills to get a fresh perspective on the city’s charms.


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