Monday. 6/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Setting out our stall

Flight cancellations and delayed train journeys be damned. The design world is making its way to Milan no matter how overloaded Europe’s air carriers and rail networks are. For me it was a long, slow train journey from Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference in Paris, allowing time to recuperate for what will be one of the most spectacular editions of Salone del Mobile in 60 years.

The world’s largest furniture trade fair, which begins tomorrow, and the citywide Milan Design Week – already in full swing – will thrum with architects, interior designers and property developers throughout this week. Yesterday saw the launch of the popular annual Alcova event, which co-curator Joseph Grima says provides a platform for designers who are “taking a risk and not being able to find a convenient space” within the pricey venues and galleries of the city. Set in a sprawling old military facility on the fringes of Milan, the showcase brings together new studios, niche brands and designers daring to innovate with sustainable materials and more radical ideas to aid an industry that is trying to lessen its effect on the planet.

Monocle’s festivities at Salone include a tie-up with Swiss modular-furniture specialists USM, which takes place within the Rossignoli bicycle shop in Brera, where we’ll be operating a pop-up shop and broadcasting live for Monocle 24. We’re also hosting two events at Teatro Gerolamo with our friends from V-Zug – a classy cocktail and conversation in an old puppet theatre that shouldn’t be missed. After two tough years for Milan, there’s going to be plenty to discuss. There are still a few places available, so drop Hannah Grundy an email at hg@monocle.com if you would like to attend either Monday or Tuesday’s event.

Nolan Giles is Monocle’s executive editor. Tune in to Monocle 24 throughout the week for more from Salone del Mobile and pick up a copy of our Salone, art and design newspaper on select newsstands from today.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Ukraine

Ripple effect

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over the past three months has brought previously theoretical questions about Europe’s security into brutal real-world focus, making it a hot topic of the three-day 2022 Globsec Security Forum in Bratislava, which ended on Saturday. On a special edition of The Foreign Desk from the Slovakian capital, Monocle 24 spoke to Anton Korynevych (pictured), ambassador at large for Ukraine’s ministry of foreign affairs, who wants to use international justice as a counter-attack – what he calls “lawfare” – to systematically deprive Russia of any claim on legitimacy. Kersti Kaljulaid, former president of Estonia, makes a case that not only should Europe cut itself more abruptly off Russian energy – including gas – but it would be cheaper than we think, certainly when compared to paying an increasingly irrational Russia to rearm itself. And Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of Belarus’s exiled opposition, tells us that her country’s fate is linked with Ukraine and that president Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is less solid than it might appear – or Lukashenko may believe.

For more, listen to our special episode of ‘The Foreign Desk’ from Bratislava on Monocle 24.

Image: Gabriele Galimberti

Photography / Italy

In the crosshairs

Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti is renowned for his documentary series on everything from children’s toys to tax havens. Last year he won a World Press Photo award in the portraits category for his Ameriguns series, which shows gun owners in stylised poses with their weapons. While the photos drew attention at the time, Galimberti says that interest in the project has risen since the recent massacres in Buffalo and Texas. “My photos became viral a lot more than a year ago,” he tells The Monocle Minute from Milan. But he worries that “people are using my photos to communicate any message; it doesn’t matter whether they are pro-gun or anti-gun, they write a different caption”. For Galimberti, it is key to see the portraits with their original accompanying text – a series of questions he asked each gun owner. The intention was to show the complex and nuanced relationship with guns in the US, not to take sides.

Image: Felix Brüggemann

Media / Germany

Public service

How should you teach children about transgender rights? And, in particular, what is the role for public-funded media? Some 120 physicians and scientists in Germany have signed an open letter urging the country’s public television broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, to be more measured and factual in their coverage – for example by teaching about the risks and drawbacks of operations rather than merely portraying gender reassignment as an easy transition.

The letter also criticised frequent mention of a gender “spectrum” as unscientific – something that will raise eyebrows in the US, where talk of gender fluidity has become common (though equally challenged by conservatives). It’s not the first time that Germany has waded into this debate: in February, noted feminist Alice Schwarzer suggested encouraging teenagers to be more comfortable in their own bodies, drawing a furious reponse from trans groups. What’s clear is that this is a delicate and ongoing debate in which public television, more than most, should find a productive and nuanced role to play.

Image: Alamy

Culture / New York

Going green

The restoration of the Morgan Library and Museum is nearing completion after more than three years of work. The neo-Renaissance gem in New York is home to an extensive collection of early books and manuscripts. Much of the spruce-up has focused on the 1906 façade but the museum is also making the most of its grounds, turning what had been an unremarkable lawn into a sculpted community garden, care of British landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, who is best known for his work on London’s Kew Gardens.

When Renzo Piano expanded the museum in 2006, he reoriented the entrance so that visitors came in on Madison Avenue but that left the grounds a little removed from the experience of most visitors. The intention with the new garden is to get visitors wandering around the building’s well-ornamented exterior, illuminated with new fixtures by Manhattan-based lighting designer Linnaea Tillett. It’s an artful development that’ll create a small oasis in Midtown when it opens to the public later this month.

Monocle 24 / Konfekt Korner

Handmade knives and tennis

The meaning behind the things we own and the craft that goes into them. We meet knife-maker Holly Loftus in her small London studio, speak to Ajiri Aki, an entrepreneur who deals in antique linens and beautiful crockery, and journalist Fleur MacDonald muses on the iconic white Airtex and green turf that signal the arrival of June’s tennis season.

Monocle Films / Greece

Why Greeks live longer

Nestled in the heart of the Aegean, the island of Ikaria used to be a secluded spot with a humble and unhurried way of life. Today, a third of the island’s population lives to be more than 90 years old. We venture to the local kafeneios, wild beaches and abundant allotments to meet the bronzed seniors.

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