Monday 14 November 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 14/11/2022

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nic Monisse

Best laid plans

In October the Order of Architects of San Marino, alongside those of Rimini and Pesaro, and high-profile designers including Norman Foster and Stefano Boeri (pictured, on left, with Foster), signed up to the UN-backed San Marino Declaration. Consisting of a set of “principles for sustainable and inclusive urban design and architecture”, it has since been presented at Cop27 in Sharm El-Sheikh. Any document that encourages people-centric design, respect for culture and deeper consideration of natural systems should be welcomed. But do we need yet another well-intentioned set of guidelines telling designers how to build? I would argue not.

Any architect worth their salt incorporates environmental and social sustainability into their work. Such considerations, however, tend to be abandoned during a building’s delivery, when budgets tighten and problems such as material or labour shortages arise. The San Marino Declaration is unlikely to have much of an effect unless architects commit to talking to – and then working with – contractors, builders and developers who are on the same page.

There’s plenty of opportunity for such discussions to take place at Cop27, with its round tables at the Buildings Pavilion attended by architects and developers alike, as well as days dedicated to decarbonisation, building better societies and more. A positive outcome of the summit, which concludes this week, would be an acknowledgement that the San Marino Declaration needs a complementary edict that tackles the industry as a whole, focusing on delivery as much as design.

Nic Monisse is Monocle’s design editor.

Image: Getty Images


Home and away

In his first face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, since becoming US president, Joe Biden is today expected to discuss Taiwan, North Korea and human rights concerns at the G20 summit in Bali. But Biden has also hinted at a tonal shift away from his previously tough rhetoric on China – he has said that he wants “competition, not conflict”, and that he hopes the meeting will build a “floor” for relations between their respective countries. The response from the US media has broadly been positive: the Los Angeles Times went as far to call it Biden’s “return to the world stage”. Though a diplomatic visit and a sit-down during a summit are very different things, this wave of support is in stark contrast with the scrutiny that Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, faced when he recently touched down in China. Biden can head into the meeting with fresh confidence, emboldened by the domestic capital that he accrued during the recent midterm elections.

Image: Reuters

Diplomacy / Venezuela

Needs must

Venezuela is being brought in from the cold. For years, the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has been sanctioned and labelled as an illegitimate leader by most of the international community. But Colombia’s new leftist leader, Gustavo Petro, visited Caracas at the start of the month and world leaders suddenly seemed happy to be photographed with Maduro at the Cop27 summit in Egypt. Emmanuel Macron (pictured, with Maduro) had a conversation with him in which he was filmed referring to Maduro as president, despite France’s official position that Juan Guaidó is Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Macron also seemed intent on flexing his internationalist muscles in the ongoing deadlock between Maduro and his country’s opposition leaders. On Friday, the French president welcomed Maduro’s special envoy Jorge Rodríguez to the Brongniart Palace, alongside opposition spokesperson Gerardo Blyde – an occasion overseen by Colombia’s Petro and Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández. Perhaps Venezuela’s oil is helping to facilitate rather more cordial relations.

Image: James D Kelly

Fashion / France

Light touch

French luxury design house Hermès has published a new edition of Le Monde d’Hermès, an annual publication featuring illustrations, photography and writing, ranging from poetry to fiction. Art directors Kevin Tekinel and Charles Levai were invited to guest-edit this year’s issue, working with editor in chief Olivier Wicker (pictured, on far right, with Tekinel, centre, and Levai, second from right) to interpret the theme of lightness.

Tekinel and Levai immersed themselves in the world of Hermès, visiting its factories and attending craft workshops. “The fact that we were so into the brand meant that we could come up with all of these silly ideas,” says Levai, during a talk at London’s Serpentine Gallery about the magazine. For Wicker, it was a case of treating it like any other craft object and keeping the brand’s loyal clientele entertained and inspired. We reckon that they’ve done a pretty good job.

Image: Zachary Balber / The Bass

Art / USA

Spreading wings

Contemporary art museum The Bass (pictured) in Miami Beach is set to receive €20.1m in city-issued funds as part of a government initiative to support city-owned cultural facilities. The institution intends to use the money to build a new wing over the next three years, marking its third major expansion in 20 years. A top priority will be to create a space that can accommodate sculptural projects and showcase its recent explorations of the place of technology in art.

The Bass isn’t the only institution to benefit from an injection of new funding. In a bid to support local talent and attract investment, the nearby city of Miami has spent the past decade nurturing its design and culture scene with a series of similar initiatives. When it comes to making cities better places to live – and more attractive to foreign investment – investing in the arts is an excellent place to start.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

Taking out the trash

One person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure. This week we meet Vienna’s refuse collectors, Istanbul’s eskicis and hear how Zagreb and Belgrade are addressing visual pollution in their cities.

Monocle Films / Global

Welcome to the Auberge Monocle

Monocle has so far resisted the temptation to open a hotel – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t spend time thinking about who we’d hire to oversee a renovation, run the bar or design the uniforms. With this in mind, here are the six house rules we’d strictly enforce to keep things civil and serene around the pool, in the lobby and on the balcony.


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