Monday 11 September 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 11/9/2023

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit Morocco on Friday night leaving more than a thousand dead. For updates throughout the day, tune in to Monocle Radio.

The Opinion

Transport / Josh Fehnert

Wrap it up

How often do you consider the complicated journey that something takes before it lands in your life? Logistics might be the engine of the modern economy but we only tend to really talk about them when things sputter and stall.

“Don’t expect much credit if you do a great job,” said Hannes Streeck, managing director of German logistics firm Fiege, at the recent Monocle Quality of Life Conference in Munich. “That ‘last mile’ in many countries is still the Wild West.” This is certainly true of the Bavarian capital but the problem is global: cities are in gridlock as a result of the increasing crush of delivery vans, cargo bikes and couriers.

But might you and I also shoulder some responsibility for the tailbacks? Streeck thinks so. “Suddenly we all thought that we needed our toothpaste delivered within the next 10 minutes,” he said, with understandable incredulity. The inconvenient truth at the heart of the convenience economy – and our increasing appetite for near-instant delivery – is that our cities aren’t built for it. And they’re buckling.

Taking a load off in Munich...

Image: Getty Images, Alamy

... and pedalling food in Madrid

Image: Getty Images, Alamy

The solution, says Streeck, requires an “external shock” and a little civic co-ordination. “We should manage cities like we do airports, with certain slot rights that companies can apply and bid for,” he said. “That way, we can develop networks with micro hubs and cargo bikes.” The industry needs to get motoring but customers might need to wait for results. While we do, it’s worth considering the true cost of the convenience that we have come to expect, which affects traffic, air quality, independent retail and the overall enjoyment of life in our cities. That means occasionally toddling to the shops for our toothpaste.

Oh, and a final question. Do you ever wonder what goes into The Monocle Minute newsletter as it arrives seamlessly at 07.00 every morning? If so, then you might have spotted today’s subtle redesign. Why did we do it? Well, let’s just say that we know the importance of a timely arrival and a neat package. We sincerely hope that the new-look Monocle Minute delivers.

Josh Fehnert is editor of Monocle. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Claudia Sheinbaum at the World Trade Center Mexico City

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Mexico

Change at the top

Mexico will almost certainly elect a female president in 2024 now that two women are vying for the presidency. Former mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum, who is affiliated with president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party, and senator Xóchitl Gálvez of the opposition coalition were selected as the candidates for the two major electoral groups last week. It is a turn of events that could signal a changing tide in a country still grappling with machismo and increasing levels of violence against women.

In another historic first, Mexico has also decriminalised abortion in all of the country’s 31 states. Despite this, some experts argue that the news about the presidency should be taken with a grain of salt. “You can’t assume that women in Latin America will be looking after women’s rights,” Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Kent tells The Monocle Minute. “You can see that with the president of Peru, Dina Boluarte, and with [former president] Jeanine Áñez in Bolivia,” she adds. “Being a woman doesn’t necessarily make someone a liberal.”

In conversation at Frieze Seoul

Image: Lets Studio/Frieze

Art / Seoul

Bigger picture

South Korea’s increasing importance in the global art scene was illustrated at Seoul Art Week, which came to a close on Saturday after a flurry of fairs, pop-up art markets and late-night events across the city. The number of exhibitors at contemporary art fair Kiaf Seoul rose from 164 in 2022 to 211 this year, representing 20 countries. The fair, which held its inaugural edition in 2002, ran concurrently with the city’s architecture and urbanism biennale, Seoul Fashion Week and more. The second edition of Frieze Seoul also concluded on Saturday.

The South Korean capital’s cultural cachet has persuaded a spate of international blue-chip galleries to open outposts there in recent years. The latest is London-headquartered White Cube, which launched its venue in the city last Tuesday to coincide with Seoul Art Week. It is the gallery’s second Asian outpost, after Hong Kong. White Cube Seoul’s inaugural exhibition, The Embodied Spirit, will run until 21 December and features work by South Korea’s Lee Jinju and the UK’s Tracey Emin, among others – a clear indication that Seoul is a significant spot for artists both homegrown and international.

Design / Paris

History in the making

France’s design scene is acutely aware of the country’s heritage as a powerhouse of craft and arts décoratifs – and its need to preserve this status, as manufacturing prowess grows in eastern Europe and beyond. That is the takeaway from Maison & Objet, which features more than 2,500 exhibitors. Though the biannual trade fair comes to a close today, its official fringe event, Paris Design Week, is keeping the festivities going until Saturday. Galleries such as Theoreme Editions in Palais Royal are among the 450 participating venues across the city, which also include showrooms on the city’s Left Bank, featuring the work of heritage French furniture brands including Tolix.

“France is a stronghold of craft and we have inherited a long tradition of arts décoratifs that we update with contemporary techniques, without fearing modernity,” Marc-Antoine Biehler, co-founder of Paris-based studio Biehler-Graveleine, tells The Monocle Minute. “We must work together to futureproof our ateliers because artisans have gold in their fingers. They have spent decades perfecting their crafts and we are lucky to have access to them here in France.”

In Print


Mongolia matters

Tied historically and economically to both Russia and China, the young, democratic, resource-rich nation is navigating tricky terrain as it looks West. Monocle’s foreign editor visits the gridlocked capital of Ulaanbaatar to meet its prime minister and profile key players shaping life on the steppe.

Subscribe to read the full article here or log in to your account if you are already a subscriber.

 Ulaanbaatar’s Government Palace and Sukhbaatar Square

Image: Christoffer Rudquist

 National Amusement Park, Ulaanbaatar

Image: Christoffer Rudquist

 Shrine in Erdenet and Bolortuya, a nomadic herder

Image: Christoffer Rudquist

 Judo practice

Image: Christoffer Rudquist

 Directing traffic in Ulaanbaatar

Image: Christoffer Rudquist
Image: Lauryn Ishak

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Atlas Bar, Matia Kitchen and our new host

Monocle’s head of radio, Tom Edwards, introduces a very exciting new voice to The Menu. Also in the programme: our Singapore correspondent, Naomi Xu Elegant, tastes a cocktail at the renowned Atlas Bar and we hop on the ferry to Orcas Island in the US to meet the founder of Matia Kitchen, Drew Downing.


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