Shanghai, 31st August 2012
Once you can weed through all the contractual, administrative and design technical matters there is still a lot of satisfaction to be got from doing projects in China. The fact is that China wants to show the world that they are a world economy and leaders in their own right. And while they have “copied” many successful formulae from the west, they have also been daring and innovating in many architectural ways. It is not for nothing that China is often called the play-ground for architects. Hence doing business (lighting design) in China certainly has it perks. Add to that sometimes the sheer size of the projects and you can imagine that lighting design can be extremely challenging but very rewarding at the same time.
Today I had a project coordination meeting and it is always interesting to see how strong hierarchy (authority) influences the decision making. Because of my presence the big boss also came to the meeting as did the bosses from the other consultants present. I normally do not attend these coordination meetings nor do the other bosses I believe. With all bosses present suddenly lingering design issues were settled within minutes. In this case we ironed out and agreed on all lighting design issues. The last few weeks and several coordination meetings prior, had not managed to sort out the differences as clashes between the various consultants views prevailed. Each of them trying to stand their ground and defend their concept. I always find it intriguing to see how down the “command” line the confrontation gets fiercer!
I think that once you understand the “mechanics” of doing business in China and know how to navigate the language (and cultural) barriers, it can be quite gratifying, but you need to blend in to a certain degree and play their game. Go head on doing it your way or the highway generally won’t get you far. When in Rome….
Light Watch 3-132: Shanghai has one of the largest networks of elevated highways in the world, if not the largest. Sometime before the world expo someone had the idea to use the structures to beautify the urban landscape at night. Equipped with kilometres of blue LED lights the elevated highways are now a landmark sight at night…