Friday 9 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 9/6/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Mathias Eis

Opinion / Nic Monisse

Heart of the process

Every big furniture brand talks about transparency when it comes to assuring customers of its ethical manufacturing practices. While the issue is important, the word is at risk of becoming a meaningless cliché: it’s easy to tune out when it is mentioned in a press release or at a product launch. The 3 Days of Design festival in Copenhagen, which wraps up today, however, might just have provided a model to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Often billed as Scandinavia’s answer to Milan Design Week, the event gives brands a chance to demonstrate their commitment to transparency rather than just talk about it. The festival is held not in trade halls but in buildings across the city; guests are welcomed into the offices and workshops of companies that are based here. Attendees receive a glimpse of how design businesses actually operate.

Copenhagen-based Muuto, for example, opened up its headquarters (pictured), typically restricted to staff and contract buyers, to the public. Brdr Krüger brought its craftsmen out of its workshop and into its showroom, where they carried on with their job of building chairs. Carl Hansen & Søn invited its apprentices onto its flagship floor to create sculptural pieces alongside visitors. Designer Kim Grenaa, founder of Danish creative studio Norr11, even allowed people into his home to show how he designs and lives with his work. This approach has given brands an opportunity to be truly transparent. The challenge now is to find ways to continue this after the festival ends and the offices, workshops and homes are closed once more.

Nic Monisse is Monocle’s design editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Reuters


Straight to business

The 10th edition of the Arab-China Business Conference kicks off this weekend in Riyadh. The event will bring together government officials, investors and business owners in the hope of strengthening ties between China and the Arab nations. “The Saudis and Chinese will see the conference as an opportunity,” Bill Law, Middle East analyst and editor of Arab Digest, tells The Monocle Minute. “For China, it’s a chance to push its Belt and Road Initiative and extend its economic influence in the Gulf, while Saudi Arabia will try to secure investment for mega-projects such as Neom, its controversial planned city.” But with China’s economy stalling, not all of Saudi Arabia’s hopes are likely to come to fruition in the short-to-medium term, says Law. “Still, the conference underscores the efforts of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [pictured, with Xi Jinping] to become a key broker of investment and diplomacy in the region.”

Image: Levi Mandel


All hands on deck

With the US Navy planning to have 150 unmanned surface and undersea vehicles in its fleet by 2045, a gold rush is coming in the country’s defence sector. While the major players will reap the most benefits, the US Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking to grow its network of small businesses across the US and Rhode Island is leading the way. In Newport, an increasing number of factories and laboratories are supplying the US Navy with underwater technology, from onboard systems for submarines to vessels that can withstand depths of 6km.

“The geography of Rhode Island couldn’t be better for testing the kind of vehicles that we envision building and deploying,” says Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab Inc, which makes unmanned vehicles that detect underwater threats. In Narragansett Bay, where torpedoes were tested during the Second World War, history is repeating itself. The military is again looking to this coastline to develop hardware that could help turn the tide in future conflicts.

For more on Rhode Island’s underwater defence industry, pick up a copy of Monocle’s June issue, which is on sale now. Or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue.

Image: Getty Images


Soaring ambitions

The aviation industry landed in Hamburg this week for the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo (pictured) and its sister event, the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo, both of which wrapped up yesterday. “People have come to this year’s show in a far more optimistic frame of mind,” says the events’ director, Polly Magraw. “Numbers for passengers and flights are returning to their pre-pandemic levels.”

Sustainability was a big talking point. The solutions on offer ranged from the use of lighter seating to better waste management. What can we expect from future flights? Reliable high-speed connectivity, the bounce-back of in-flight entertainment screens and some of the perks of premium categories filtering down to economy class, if Air New Zealand’s Skynest sleep-pod concept is anything to go by. The sky really is the limit.

Image: White Cube


Down to a fine art

Contemporary art gallery White Cube announced yesterday that it will open a new outpost in Seoul (pictured) this autumn. It will be the gallery’s second venture in Asia after the launch of its Hong Kong gallery and will be housed in the same building as the Horim Art Centre in Gangnam.

It will also be the latest in a string of high-profile art openings in South Korea’s capital. Thaddeus Ropac debuted its first Seoul location in 2021; last year, Perrotin opened a second venue in the city, while Pace Gallery and Lehmann Maupin expanded their existing spaces. Combined with the launch of new art fairs such as Frieze Seoul, which premiered last September, South Korea is fast becoming one of the international art market’s new hot spots.

Image: Robert Rieger_Kin Dee Inside

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Berlin special

Markus Hippi heads to Berlin and visits Nobelhart & Schmutzig, a Michelin-starred restaurant on Friedrichstrasse with a focus on local produce. He also pops into Kin Dee, an authentic Thai restaurant opened by chef Dalad Kambhu in 2016, and speaks to Maximiliane Wetzel, co-founder of popular brunch spot Frühstück 3000.

Monocle Films / Urbanism

Meet Europe’s first chief heat officer

Athens is the hottest capital city in mainland Europe and temperatures continue to rise. That’s why Eleni Myrivili was appointed as the city’s – and continent’s – first chief heat officer last summer. We meet her on Philoppapou hill to hear about how urban design can help to build resilience against rising temperatures.


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