Friday. 10/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

Opinion / Nic Monisse

Network premier

Throughout this week, the 20 trade halls open at Milan’s Rho Fiera Milano fairgrounds and furniture showrooms across the city centre have been packed with industry leaders for the world’s biggest design fair, Salone del Mobile, which wraps up this weekend. Highlights of our own visit have included the array of emerging talent on display at Salone Satellite and Hermès’s impressive installation of four luminescent pavilions (pictured) in an old sports centre.

But while Salone has offered the creative community gathered here a chance to observe the latest works and research from a host of designers and brands, I suspect that it’ll be the more intimate conversations taking place around these events that leave a lasting impression. “It’s a required visit for most designers because it’s where the whole community of design comes together,” says Swiss-born, US-based industrial designer Yves Béhar, who joined us for Monocle On Design at our pop-up studio in Milan’s Brera neighbourhood. “Plus, it’s always fun with so many friends here from all over the world.”

Indeed, the city’s bars and cafés are once again packed with furniture designers from Asia, architects from the US and gallerists from Europe making connections, doing deals and talking about their plans for designing a better world. Over the past few nights, I’ve shared a beer (in separate glasses) with OEO Studio’s Thomas Lykke, met and enjoyed canapés with emerging Australian designer Lucy Marczyk and had a caffé with Antonio Citterio. Their presence at these venues – and, presumably, an enormous uptick in sales of espresso and negroni – suggests that, while the public show is important, it’s the connections forged with other designers that will make Salone a must-attend event for years to come.

Nic Monisse is Monocle’s deputy design editor.

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Asia

Face-to-face value

The Shangri-La Dialogue kicks off in Singapore today with military officials from across Asia, the EU, the US and others gathering for the summit’s first in-person meeting since 2019. Starting with a keynote address today from Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida (pictured), and running until Sunday, the forum will discuss regional and global security issues including the Russia-Ukraine war, the Myanmar conflict and how US-China relations are affecting Indo-Pacific nations. As ever at such gatherings, it’s the behind-the-scenes bilaterals that matter most: US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, will give public speeches and hold their first closed-door meeting on the sidelines. “There’s a huge demand to meet in person,” James Crabtree, executive director of the Asia branch of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which runs the dialogue, told The Globalist on Monocle 24. “It’s only really when you meet your interlocutors in person that you can have a secure and honest conversation.”

Tune in to Monocle 24 today and throughout the weekend for more coverage of the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Image: Alamy

Conflicts / Yemen

Demanding accountability

A US government watchdog has accused the State Department and Pentagon of failing to properly assess civilian casualties and the use of American weapons in the war in Yemen since 2015. The report from the Government Accountability Office, which has not been fully released but was obtained by The New York Times, comes at a sensitive time for Joe Biden.

The US president is planning a summer tour to Saudi Arabia, one of the conflict’s main belligerents, to revive ties that have ebbed since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Saudi Arabia is an important partner to both the US and the UK, probably more than ever because of the boycotts of oil from Russia,” said Iona Craig, a journalist and Gulf specialist, on Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “Saudi Arabia now has more leverage in these relationships, which have always prioritised oil over human rights.”

Image: Getty Images

Business / Switzerland

Power to the parliament

Switzerland’s parliament, the Nationalrat, yesterday agreed to give itself the power to impose unilateral sanctions on foreign firms and individuals over human rights violations or serious breaches of international law. If approved by the country’s upper chamber, this could mark a shift away from a policy of restraint. Until now, Switzerland has only adopted sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and has tended to follow EU sanctions packages, including against Belarus and Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. Practically speaking, it’s unlikely that Switzerland will now enact any far-reaching measures ahead of others – it’s too small an actor and sanctions never work in isolation. But the new powers do suggest that Switzerland could become more proactive in co-ordinating actions with like-minded states and, given its business expertise, could even lead debates around their usefulness beyond symbolism; sanctions have a doubtful track record, after all, often guided by naïve hopes of bringing about quick change.

Image: Theaster Gates Studio/ Iwan Baan/ Serpentine

Culture / UK

Oculus gift

The 2022 Serpentine Pavilion opens to the public today, marking the arrival of summer in London’s Kensington Gardens. This year’s installation (pictured) is designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, who follows in the footsteps of noted architects Junya Ishigami, Francis Kéré and Frida Escobedo. Gates’s “Black Chapel” is a pantheon-like space, with dark timber panelling, silver tar paintings and an oculus that lets in a ray of light.

The pavilion has been dedicated to the artist’s late father, who was a roofer. “We hope that this pavilion will bring togetherness and love, and encourage thinking about a common future,” Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, tells The Monocle Minute. “Zaha Hadid gave us the first pavilion but also the mantra that there should be no end to experimentation.” “Black Chapel” will be gracing London until mid-October and will provide the stage for Park Nights, a programme of dance, poetry, music, tea ceremonies and pottery classes throughout the summer.

Hear more from the people behind the Serpentine Pavilion on the latest edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Monocle 24 / The Entrepreneurs

Beauty Disrupted

When Svante Holm and Alban Mayne learnt that 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles are thrown away every year, they quit their technology careers to start a business intent on disrupting the beauty industry. Holm explains how the pair spent two years developing the wide range of luxurious, solid bars they now offer.

Monocle Films / Global

The Monocle Book of Photography

The Monocle Book of Photography draws on the best of our visual stories from an archive 15 years in the making. A handsomely produced linen-bound edition, the book also features original reporting about each of the assignments, as well as first-hand accounts from the photographers and editors involved. Order your copy today.

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