Thursday 13 June 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 13/6/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Print / Josh Fehnert

People reduce Paris to its clichés at their peril. The French capital still surprises at every turn

No matter how well we know a city, the best ones can still surprise us. Paris is one of the world’s most visited places but cling too closely to the clichés and you’re sure to miss what keeps it so enduringly à la mode. Yes, the Métro is getting an upgrade, the Olympics are careening closer and monsieur Macron is challenging the agitators to his political right – but there’s something slower and more subtle to admire behind the headlines.

Paris is proudly itself. How can this city of successful start-ups balance a thriving craft scene that most global capitals have idly let slip? How can a hard-working business hub keep its long holidays and a love of wine with lunch? Somehow, Paris manages it with aplomb – and often a Gallic shrug of affected insouciance for good measure.

The French capital has been part of Monocle’s story since launch but we’re now penning a new chapter in that affaire de coeur. Today we launch our Paris Edition, a bold Berliner-format newspaper about the city sold throughout Europe this summer. The city is also home to our latest bureau, which opens this month.

For the paper, we dispatched reporters, photographers and illustrators to help unpick Paris’s subtler successes, from green rooftops to the people making it a centre for art and media. There are essays on getting beyond the better-trodden bits and nods to the designers, ateliers and studios making it here. And if you’re attending the Games, there are recommendations aplenty.

During the Olympics, Monocle Radio is broadcasting from Maison Allianz and messieurs Brûlé and Tuck are in town this week hosting book launches for subscribers. If we miss you this time, fear not: you’ll hear plenty more from us in Paris soon.

Over the months to come, we’ll keep you abreast of culture, couture and cuisine, of course, but we’ve also set ourselves a challenge. The proper telling of any story about the City of Light should glitter with surprises, challenges and the unexpected too.

Josh Fehnert is Monocle’s editor. Monocle’s ‘Paris Edition’ newspaper is available today. Subscribe so that you never miss an issue of the magazine or invitation to a Monocle event.

The Briefings

Making tracks: Freight train on the Laos–China railway

Image: Getty Images

Transport / China & Thailand

Thailand trains its eye on becoming Southeast Asia’s logistics hub

Travellers and goods from Thailand will be able to travel directly to China by train for the first time from next month. The State Railway of Thailand has announced that the country’s railway system will be integrated with the Laos-China network. All three nations hope that a connection at Khamsawath Station in Vientiane, Laos’s capital, will boost tourism and trade.

The original, 1,000km-long high-speed rail line from Kunming in China to Vientiane was built under China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2021. Since the start of its operations, it has reduced delivery times from the Laotian capital to China from two days by road to 15 hours. The extension to Thailand will secure faster trade routes and feature a smoother customs process. As a result, Thailand hopes to become a major logistics hub for Southeast Asia.

Business / USA

Supermarket chains turn to smaller shops in search of bigger profits

The US supermarket sector is shifting. Shoppers are increasingly using online retailers and independent bricks-and-mortar food shops, so big brands are taking stock. Though cross-industry profits were in good health last year, sales at large stores fell slightly. In response, many retailers are rolling out smaller shops. In March, Austin-based Whole Foods announced the first of several “quick-shop” stores set to open this year in New York, where another big retailer, Trader Joe’s, trialled its Pronto concept earlier this year. Michigan-based Meijer, Colorado’s Natural Grocers and Arizona’s Sprouts Farmers Market are making similar moves. “These smaller shops are a newer idea in the US and Canada,” David Soberman a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, tells Monocle. “It’s an opportunity for brands to attract younger adults who live in cities and don’t want to have to get in a car and drive to do their shopping.”

For more agenda-setting stories on business and entrepreneurship from our global network of reporters, pick up a copy of Monocle's June issue, which is on sale now

Culture / Switzerland

‘Sunflowers’ sale keeps market blooming as Art Basel opens its doors

Some 285 galleries from 40 countries will participate in this year’s edition of the world’s most prestigious art fair. Art Basel, which begins today and runs until Sunday, is a bellwether for the global art market – and the mood at this week’s press preview was bullish. This is largely thanks to strong opening sales led by “Sunflowers” by American artist Joan Mitchell, which fetched $20m (€18.4m), making it one of the year’s most valuable works.

Image: Art Basel
Image: Art Basel

According to Austrian gallerist Thaddaeus Ropac, whose eponymous firm sold US painter Robert Rauschenberg’s “Market Altar/ROCI Mexico” for $3.85m (€3.56m), sales are not as frenzied as in 2022 – but that is a good thing. “Two years ago, people were walking by and buying,” says Ropac. “This is not the way to present art with the respect and care that we’re trying to put behind an artist’s career.” Art aficionados will hope for more good news over the course of Art Basel, which is marking the 30th anniversary of its partnership with UBS.

For more on Art Basel and the state of the art market tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio from 07.00 London time, ‘The Briefing’ from midday and ‘The Monocle Daily’ from 18.00 throughout this week.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Alicia Afshar

Q&A / Jaymie Parkkinen

All the world’s a gym: the creation of fitness programme Clown Cardio

Jaymie Parkkinen is the founder and creative director of Clown Cardio. The fitness programme, which he started in Los Angeles in late 2023, aims to innovate traditional workout routines through physical theatre and games. Parkkinen paid a visit to Midori House this week to talk about the state of the fitness industry and whether it has room for growth.

What led you to set up Clown Cardio?
I always try to do anything I can get my hands into. I have worked as a stand-up comedian and I am a trained clown and mime. I also act and perform physical theatre. But, besides this, I am also trained as an intellectual property and entertainment lawyer. A family event during the summer of 2023 made me realise that I don’t wish to spend my life in a corporate office.

The fitness industry is a busy business landscape. What did you see was missing?
I’m fitness-oriented myself and I have tried a lot of programmes. The main thing they are all missing is fun. There are trends, crazes and regimes – but they’re all serious work. What sets Clown Cardio apart is that it’s all play. This is important to incorporate into the business. Clients get all the benefits of running around for an hour but without realising it. Because they are just having fun.

Do you see room for growth?
We’re at an exciting point where we are planning to expand in multiple ways. We are developing a new product, a Clown Cardio kit, which will include hardware and instructions for people to use wherever they are. We already work with several universities in Los Angeles and we recently partnered with a major luxury hotel as part of their wellness and development programme. And we are eyeing many other locations across the world to teach the benefits of play, hospitality and customer service.

To hear our full interview with Jaymie Parkkinen, tune in to the latest episode of ‘The Entrepreneurs’, on Monocle Radio.

Monocle Radio / On Design

London Festival of Architecture

The team meets some of the participants hosting events, walks, exhibitions and open studios across the metropolis.


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