Monday 15 May 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 15/5/2023

The Monocle Minute

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Image: AIA Dallas


Connection problems

Everyone knows that you should never come between a Texan and their truck but the fate of an inner-city highway in Dallas has all the makings of a high-noon showdown. On 24 May, Dallas City Council is expected to vote on whether Interstate 345 (pictured) should be “trenched” into the ground, with bridges built over this sprawling 10-laner that currently looms over the city’s burgeoning east end. The proposal has left residents hot under the collar: some predict untold disruption and congestion, while others argue that the plan doesn’t go far enough and are fighting for the I-345 to be torn down. How this ends could prove to be a bellwether for the evolution of US cities.

The people of Dallas are a hospitable bunch (Monocle hosted its first US conference in the city last year) but the imposing tangle of highways encircling the urban core doesn’t make the best first impression. When the I-345 was built in the 1970s, it carved through the historic and predominantly black neighbourhood of Deep Ellum. This cut residents off from Downtown Dallas by making the walk there circuitous and unpleasant, and they suddenly had to live next to a noisy, choking highway. It’s a familiar tale. The US’s mid-century zeal for highway-building transformed cities from Tampa to Tucson into drive-in-drive-out places, often at the expense of street life.

“Cities were supposed to be places of exchange, not somewhere to speed through,” says Ian Lockwood, a liveable transportation engineer at the Toole Design Group, which has studied the effects of Dallas’s I-345. He is passionate about getting rid of inner-city highways, arguing that the spend on their upkeep often outweighs the investment of building bike-friendly boulevards and proper mass transit. Joe Biden’s administration has committed about $1bn (€0.9) to reconnect neighbourhoods cut off by highways; however, it is also spending billions on building more of these behemoths. The US needs to find an off-ramp to the future – and Dallas might show the way.

Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to the magazine today.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Saudi Arabia, Iran & Yemen

Path to peace

Saudi Arabia have announced the appointment of a new ambassador to Tehran after seven years of broken diplomatic ties. According to Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, this marks the first real opportunity for peace in Yemen but it comes as a blow to the US’s diplomatic might. The appointment follows a Chinese-brokered rapprochement in March and mediation between Riyadh and Tehran by officials from Oman; Muscat has helped to broker meetings between Saudi officials and the Iran-backed Houthi rebel movement. Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, has stressed the US’s unwavering support for peace, citing his country’s $5.4bn (€4.9bn) donation in humanitarian aid. However, because of Iran’s ongoing supply of weapons into the country, he is dubious that peace there can endure. “Though it’s a definitive step towards peace, Yemen’s future is still in doubt, with no firm agreements made on its governance,” Mekelberg tells The Monocle Minute. For now, however, a pause to the violence that has displaced 4.5 million people is welcome news for Yemen.

Image: Nothing


Call of duty

London-based technology company Nothing has announced that it will release its second smartphone later this year. At the age of 33, founder Carl Pei (pictured) is already a veteran in the world of technology. In 2013, he co-founded electronics firm Oneplus in Shenzhen but left in 2020 to start Nothing. Drops of the company’s limited-edition products have created a buzz but it’s their design, which prioritises functionality without compromising on form, that is winning fans.

“When I bought the first iPhone, society was looking forward to technology companies making life better,” Pei tells Monocle. “Now they’re seen in the way that oil firms are.” Though data privacy and antitrust issues have taken the shine off some technology firms, Pei remains optimistic that plucky companies such as his can change the sector for the better. “Business is far more holistic today in terms of your stakeholders, the environment, the government, customers and investors. We have to fight on multiple planes.”

For more on Nothing and tech’s next moves, buy the May issue of Monocle, which is out now. Or subscribe so that you never miss an issue.

Image: Hong Kong International Airport


Back on the move

Hong Kong International Airport will be handing out 24,000 sponsored economy-class tickets for passengers coming from South Korea this week. The giveaway, which starts tomorrow, is part of Hong Kong’s campaign to boost the city’s tourism and help it return to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, South Korean travellers, who numbered 1.2 million people, were the third-largest group of tourists after those from mainland China and Taiwan.

On Friday, South Korea’s finance ministry also announced plans for a new incentive to boost domestic tourism. The government will issue 30,000 won (€20.60) vouchers for tour packages and accommodation, and discounts of 30 to 50 per cent at the country’s KTX high-speed trains. The ministry said that more details will be provided this week. As international travel takes off, other Asian nations with space on their aircraft and in their hotels will be tracking Hong Kong and South Korea’s progress closely.

Image: Foto Archivio Arnaldo Pomodoro


Urban myths

Fendi has opened a new exhibition at its Rome headquarters dedicated to the work of Arnaldo Pomodoro. The brutalist Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana’s tall, imposing arches form the backdrop for the artist’s Forme del Mito sculpture series, displayed across the courtyard. Inside, a selection of key artworks is on show, from bronze and raffia costumes harking back to Ancient Greece to large-scale clay and fibreglass sculptures. Sketches, books and photographs highlight lesser-known works, from a vineyard designed in Bevagna to unrealised architectural projects in Milan.

The Fendi family has had a long connection to Pomodoro, who started as an artisan, just as both Adele and Edoardo Fendi did in 1925. But this exhibition is part of the label’s wider commitment to its hometown: it has also funded the restoration of the Trevi Fountain and supported exhibitions by the city’s Galleria Borghese. Doing so allows the brand to tell the story of its own heritage and retain its relevance in a crowded fashion market.

Image: Jeremy Deller


Jeremy Deller

Conceptual artist Jeremy Deller is a winner of the coveted Turner Prize and has represented the UK at the Venice Biennale. He joins Robert Bound in the studio to discuss his new book, Art Is Magic, a vibrant catalogue of his career alongside the art, music, films and politics that have inspired his work.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: May issue, 2023

Monocle’s third annual Design Awards honour the top 50 objects, places and designers that have popped onto our radar over the past year. Expect stunning buildings, cosy furniture and saké in cans. Elsewhere in Issue 163, we find out how Russia recruits spies (and why it needs to), set up home at the world’s premier property fair and step out in spring fashion.


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