Thursday. 16/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Vipp

Opinion / Nic Monisse

Open season

Since 2007, Copenhagen has consistently placed high in the annual Monocle Quality of Life Survey. In this year’s listing, which you’ll find in our July/August issue, out today, it has retained the top spot. So, what’s behind its back-to-back wins? In short: confidence.

While many other cities remain hesitant about restoring a semblance of normality, residents of the Danish capital have pushed ahead without a fuss. Here, new restaurants continue to open, the city’s economy is ticking along nicely, cultural events are taking place and tourists have returned. While the last of these factors comes with its own problems, in 2022 it’s a positive marker of an open and optimistic metropolis.

That confidence is on show at the citywide 3 Days of Design festival, which is currently in full swing and runs until Friday. Copenhagen’s galleries and studios are buzzing with a global set of designers and design enthusiasts, here to soak up the best of Danish furniture and craft. I feel lucky to be among them as it means that I’ve had the chance to spend time in places such as Vipp Garage (pictured), a new cultural space by the furniture brand of the same name, whose opening has been timed to coincide with the festival. At its launch party, I tucked into a lunch by chef Christian Puglisi with creatives from across the world, enjoyed live music by award-winning musician Mathias Heise in its new performance space and took kaffe on the rooftop, which enjoys views over the city’s regenerated harbour.

The result? An afternoon that was a relaxed coming together of everything that makes cities great: good food, quality design and live music, all set in a smart urban environment. Reason enough to visit Vipp Garage over the course of 3 Days of Design – or, indeed, Copenhagen this summer.

Nic Monisse is Monocle’s deputy design editor.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Japan

Striking a balance

With the end of Tokyo’s parliamentary session yesterday, Japan’s politicians have begun the sprint to the house of councillors elections on 10 July. The ruling Liberal Democratic-Komeito coalition enacted all 61 pieces of legislation submitted in the session. Though prime minister Fumio Kishida (pictured) will be proud of that record, there are many issues left unresolved as the country prepares to vote. Security is high on the agenda: Japan is wary of an unpredictable North Korea and an increasingly assertive China in its neighbourhood. Rising consumer prices are also being more keenly felt than elsewhere because Japanese salaries have barely increased for decades. Then there’s the pandemic: the government opened borders to foreign tourist groups on 10 June but striking a balance between keeping out coronavirus and allowing an industry that brought in more than €44bn in 2019 to flow will remain a difficult task. For Japan’s politicians, the pressure is on.

Image: Alamy

Aviation / Turkey

Naming game

The latest twist in the efforts of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to change his country’s name in international circles to Türkiye came this week when he announced a rebrand of Turkish Airlines. Erdogan said that the national carrier will now be known as Türkiye Hava Yollari, a translation of the old name into Turkish. Last year, Erdogan ordered changes to the country’s name in a move that he claimed would boost its standing. Observers have suggested that one motivating factor behind the plan might have been the less high-minded idea of dissociating the country from the bird of the same name (which takes its name from the country).

Renaming nations can be tricky. Sri Lanka and Myanmar have successfully shed their colonial names, while North Macedonia’s name is now widely accepted. But Türkiye, which is harder for non-Turkish speakers to pronounce, might leave Ankara pushing the change for some time yet.

For more on Turkey’s efforts to rename itself, take a look at Monocle’s story on the subject from the March issue.

Image: Getty Images

Justice / Cambodia

Democracy in danger

About 60 members of Cambodia’s now-dissolved opposition party, including prominent lawyer Theary Seng (pictured), have been convicted of treason in a trial seen as a crackdown on the political opposition. Seng and the others were charged over a failed attempt by Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, to return from exile in 2019. The defendants denied organising the journey for Rainsy, who has been living outside Cambodia since 2016 to avoid serving prison sentences that he says are politically motivated. “The independence of Cambodia’s judiciary system has been a point of contention for many years,” said Chhengpor Aun, a political journalist in Phnom Penh, to The Globalist on Monocle 24. Indeed, it is widely believed that Cambodian courts are under the influence of the prime minister, Hun Sen, who has been in power for 37 years. International opprobrium has done little to stop the crackdown on the opposition ahead of next year’s elections, says Aun. “Cambodian democracy still has a long way to go,” he adds.

For the latest news, analysis and headlines, tune into The Globalist on Monocle 24.

Image: Matilde Viegas

Music / Portugal

Sound effect

Musicians from across the Lusophone world, which comprises Portugal, six African nations, Brazil and Timor-Leste, come to Lisbon in search of studios, venues and a wider market that can advance their careers. From this cultural melange has arisen a musical genre, batida, that’s winning fans in the Portuguese-speaking world. “It’s a sound that could only come from Lisbon, because of the concentration of immigrants, their exposure to European culture and how they interpret the sounds coming from Africa,” says José Moura, co-founder of record label Príncipe Discos.

Brazilian genres such as bossa nova and samba have shone on the world stage but Portugal has struggled to export its unique sound. Now it has an ecosystem of artists, festivals and labels, which hints at the chance of worldwide popularity. But do Lisbon’s beat-makers have what it takes to become truly global?

Find out more in the July/August double issue of Monocle, which hits newsstands today.

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

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