Wednesday 17 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 17/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Hitting the bottle: Alcohol on sale at a grocery shop in Warsaw

Image: Getty Images

Society / Mateusz Mazzini

Nightlife jitters

Warsaw’s mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski, secured a comfortable majority in the first round of last week’s local elections and is now being talked about as a serious contender in next year’s presidential elections. His successful leadership of the city over the past five years has left opponents on both the left and right floundering. But one potential stumbling block is the growing demand from residents for limits on alcohol purchases. Trzaskowski’s rivals have seized upon the issue, citing successful schemes in cities such as Krakow and Zakopane. But this Warsawer, like Trzaskowski, remains sceptical.

In Warsaw, you can buy booze in 24-hour liquor shops or petrol stations long after the bars have closed. There are reportedly more shops selling alcohol here than in the whole of Sweden. Many believe that this widespread availability fuels addiction and domestic violence, while lowering productivity. Krakow, which has become a popular destination for stag parties, introduced nighttime prohibition measures last summer. Arrests have since fallen by 47 per cent and cases of drink-driving by 10 per cent. But the freedom to enjoy the night for as long as it lasts is part of Warsaw’s charm. It’s something that sets it apart from other increasingly puritanical European cities.

Bowing to bottom-up (if not bottoms-up) pressure, Trzaskowski has promised to hold consultations on the issue. However, he has expressed doubts that Krakow-style restrictions would improve urban life enough to make it worthwhile. In a recent radio interview, the mayor claimed that antisocial behaviour in Krakow had simply been pushed to the city’s outskirts. In Warsaw, nighttime purchases constitute just 2 per cent of the total volume of alcohol sold and drinking-related crimes largely occur in certain pockets of the city. A more effective solution might be to impose special restrictions targeting those specific areas. If Trzaskowski wants a smooth path to the top job, he should resist destroying what makes Warsaw such a fun city to live in and visit.

Mateusz Mazzini is a journalist based in Poland. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings


On the circuit

There’s still more than a week to go until the 18th Beijing International Automotive Exhibition but Honda has jumped the lights, previewing two models from a forthcoming range of electric vehicles (EV) called Ye. The Japanese carmaker unveiled the Ye P7 and the Ye S7 in the Chinese capital yesterday, alongside a concept model for a new grand tourer. It plans to introduce six cars in the series to the Chinese market by 2027, as well as 10 further EVs under the standard Honda brand.

The announcement follows last month’s news that Honda will start collaborating on EV technology with Nissan, its long-time arch-nemesis, in a bid to catch up with now-dominant Chinese brands such as BYD. China overtook Japan to become the world’s biggest vehicle exporter in 2023, in large part powered by its success in EV sales. Honda’s latest attempt to plug into the growing market is a sensible move – but with its strong supply chains, robust state support and well-oiled domestic manufacturing infrastructure, China’s EV sector continues to charge ahead.

Image: Adam Amengual

URBANISM / Los Angeles

Walk on the wild side

A stretch of Route 101 on the outskirts of Los Angeles will be closed at night for several weeks as the construction of one of the world’s largest wildlife crossings enters its final stages. The freeway, which cuts through Liberty Canyon, has long divided a conservation area. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will provide a vegetated overpass spanning 10 lanes of the highway that will reconnect pockets of wildlife in the 620 sq km Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, including cougars, deer, snakes, lizards and toads.

Upon completion in 2025, the bridge will be covered in native plants and resemble a small hill with the road tunnelling beneath. The project’s stakeholders hope that it will not only increase the region’s biodiversity but also serve as a precedent for urban wildlife conservation across the globe.


Hot property

Thinking of refreshing your outdoor furniture in time for summer? The brands exhibiting at Salone del Mobile, which is taking place in Milan this week, are hoping to catch your eye – and one way of standing out is to offer collaborations that are exclusive to the world’s biggest furniture fair. Italian outdoor-furniture firm Ethimo is doing just that.

Image: Andrea Pugiotto
Image: Andrea Pugiotto

The pieces in its booth include Innesti pots designed in collaboration with Milan-based Studiopepe, and the Patio collection by Ethimo and the Treviso-based Studio Zanellato/Bortotto, which features a hammock, daybed and chairs combining weather-resistant rope with teak. The latter practice is also responsible for the design of the booth. Its potted plants and tiles, inspired by the porticoes of Roman, Moorish and Spanish architecture, bring a touch of the outdoors into the halls of the Rho Fiera. The pieces are only available until Salone del Mobile wraps up on Sunday – so be quick.

Beyond the Headlines

The List / Design fairs

Coming attractions

Salone del Mobile might be a benchmark for the international design sector but it’s not the only industry event worth paying attention to this spring. Here are three others that you should fit into your calendar.

1. Bogotá Design Festival, Colombia
Over four days, this design-focused festival in the Colombian capital will showcase the city’s flair for culture, art and visual media, as well as its intriguing urban landscape.
Bogotá Design Festival runs from 24 to 27 April;

2. NYCxDesign, USA
This fair, which was a small but ambitious initiative as recently as 2012, is now a stalwart of the industry calendar. It’s a great opportunity to explore New York’s design ecosystem.
NYCxDesign runs from 16 to 23 May;

3. Melbourne Design Week, Australia
Organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, the eighth iteration of Australia’s largest annual design event will encourage visitors to contemplate the world’s urban challenges and how the sector can help to improve our lives.
Melbourne Design Week runs from 23 May to 2 June;

Image: Maggie Rogers

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Culture

Maggie Rogers

We meet US musician and producer Maggie Rogers, who shot to fame in 2016 after a video showed her wowing Pharrell Williams with her song “Alaska”. She has since released two albums and been nominated for a Grammy Award. Her third collection, Don’t Forget Me, was written with co-writer and co-producer Ian Fitchuk in five days. Rogers discusses the process of making it, the record’s roadtrip feel and the notion of genre.


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