Monday. 12/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Carlota Rebelo

Seeking solidarity

When Volodymyr Zelensky won Ukraine’s presidential elections in April 2019, most international headlines ran with variations on “comedian wins presidency”. But the landslide victory was the manifestation of a profound desire for change. Upon the announcement of his election victory, Zelensky told an effusive room, “I will never let you down.” While support at home isn’t unanimous, his performance has come to sum up Ukraine’s determination on the world stage.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the subsequent war, Ukraine has been a relentless champion of itself. While men and women fight on the front lines, from Donetsk to Kherson, the soft-power offensive abroad has been a thing of wonder too. Wherever you go – from the World Economic Forum in Davos to the Web Summit in Lisbon – you’re sure to find a Ukrainian delegation asking the international community for funds, military assistance and, most of all, solidarity and support. Soft power, it seems, goes beyond messaging too: just last week Zelenskyy made a point of travelling to the dangerous front lines to mark Armed Forces Day with his country’s troops. It is this nation’s indomitable spirit that has granted it entry in our annual Soft Power Survey, which is out this week in the new December/January issue.

Nato’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg recently said that the conditions for peace in Ukraine “are not there now”. This is something that’s on the mind of every Ukrainian diplomat, not least the country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, who I spoke to last month. “The moment for negotiations will come because every war ends with diplomacy,” he told me. As temperatures drop to sub-zero, and with millions going without electricity, water or heat, Ukraine faces a tough winter ahead. But if there’s one thing that this nation has shown the world, it’s resolve.

Carlota Rebelo is Monocle’s senior producer and presenter. You can read her profile of Ukraine's Dmytro Kuleba in the December/January issue of Monocle or listen to their conversation on ‘The Big Interview’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Reuters

Politics / EU

Give and take

EU ambassadors will convene today to try to find a way to progress after a deadlock caused by a constant thorn in the bloc’s side: Hungary. The EU is looking to provide a further €18bn to Kyiv – a move that was vetoed by Budapest last week. “There is increasing concern that Hungary is trying to blackmail the EU into releasing funds by blocking its initiatives, which also includes a deal to set a minimum corporate tax rate,” Viktória Serdult, a journalist based in the Hungarian capital, tells The Monocle Minute. Brussels is currently withholding €7.5bn slated for Hungary – led by outspoken prime minister Viktor Orbán (pictured) – over rule-of-law concerns. However, 12 member states, including France, are calling for the funds to be released on the grounds that Hungary has made progress on anti-corruption measures, which they feel ought to be recognised. The more countries there are in the club, the harder it may be to get everyone to agree on a course of action.

Image: Adjaye Associates

Urbanism / USA

Man with a plan

David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-British architect whose studio is one of the most in-demand in the world, is heading to Cleveland. And while the Ohio city may not sound as glamorous as his normal stomping ground (think London or New York), the project is up there with his most ambitious. The recently unveiled design for Cuyahoga Riverfront Masterplan is a 15 to 20-year blueprint that will redevelop the city’s waterfront, connecting Tower City and Public Square transit stations.

There will be 2,000 residential units, 79,000 sq m of offices and five hectares of public space, including retail, hospitality and entertainment. The plans are all part of putting heritage and culture at the forefront of architecture, something that Adjaye has done with previous projects such as the National Museum of African American History in Washington and the ongoing redevelopment of Ghana capital Accra (see Monocle issue 151). Cleveland, for its part, is bidding to be nothing less than America’s first 15-minute city.

Image: Rega

Transport / Switzerland

To the rescue

Swiss non-profit Rega’s blue patronage card can be found in the pockets of more than 3.5 million people who hope to never have to actually use the air-rescue service. With its white-and-red rescue helicopters, Rega brings state-of-the-art medicine directly to the patient and, especially in impassable alpine terrain, its crews are often the only hope. Having turned 70 this year, Rega has now announced major upgrades to its helicopter fleet.

Between 2024 and 2026 all its helicopters (there are three different types at the moment) will be replaced with 21 Airbus H145s. These are badly needed, given that Rega’s 14 bases around Switzerland recorded 14,330 operations in 2021. With the purchase of the new helicopters, including a navigation system especially produced by Airbus for Rega, the next 15 years of high-quality air rescue look to be in safe hands.

Image: Celine

Fashion / Los Angeles

Turning heads

Parisian label Celine travelled to Los Angeles at the end of last week to present its autumn/winter 2023 collection. The show was an homage to the Wiltern Theatre, an art deco landmark known for its instantly recognisable blue-green and concrete façade, vertical neon signs and narrow windows. Creative director Hedi Slimane, one of fashion’s most mysterious figures, played with his own instantly recognisable design codes of slim pinstripe suits, leather and safari jackets and Breton stripes.

While his look remains consistent season after season, the backdrop of the collections is always a surprise and offers an insight into his close ties with the worlds of design and architecture. Apart from the Wiltern, this year he staged shows at Villa Kerouac in St Tropez and celebrated the 20th anniversary of Slimane’s first Celine show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris with a Bauhaus-inspired range. It’s a winning formula that has kept Celine among the fastest-growing labels in the LVMH stable.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

Democratising public space

Creating cities that are truly open requires the perspectives of the entire community. We speak to two promoters of the democratisation of urban design – Gail Shillingford of B+H Architects and Deborah Saunt of architecture, urban design and spatial research studio DSDHA – who explain how to build environments that are truly open for everyone.

Film / Global

Designing the news

How do you unpack stories in the most engaging way while building a credible and comprehensive brand? Monocle Films showcases best design for paper and screen too.

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