The (short) week that was…February 16-18
Singapore, Chinese New Year long weekend 19-22nd February 2015
Monday 16; Singapore – The Chinese New Year’s rush
It is a short work week this week with many companies already shutting down for Chinese New Year and from those companies still operating, many of their staff already off to family reunions, some of them travelling far. One of my staff is travelling to her family in Malaysia, others from my China office travel 16 hours by train to reach their home town. We will be closing down our office from noon Wednesday. This is the time when business in this part of the world is winding down, with some companies closed for up to 2 weeks. It is also a last minute rush to get things finished or wrapped up as many think it is good Feng Shui to start the new year with a clean desk. There was also a small inrush of new projects over the last weeks with clients wanting to sign up their consultant’s team before the new year. I will be the last to complain! One of the more interesting projects I prepared a proposal for is a bit of the beaten path for us. We are already on board for the architectural lighting of this project, but the client asked us if we would be interested and capable of taking on the specialist theatre and TV studio lighting. While I do have the knowledge, I have relatively little experience as this is not our bread and butter lighting design, so I have a specialist team with whom I collaborate and integrate in the team for the purpose. It is this out of the regular type of projects that keeps us passionate about what we do, it forces us to sharpen our minds, think out of the routine approach and find creative ways to reinvent ourselves. I enjoyed preparing the proposal today. Here is a reference project picture from my collaborator; lighting designer and cinematographer Manuel Garrido, who lit the play the Glass Anatomy at the Esplanade recently.
Tuesday 17 Singapore – Operator needs and client budgets
Being active in hospitality projects as we do means we are continuously sandwiched between operator needs and client (Developer’s) budgets. Most of the time they go NOT hand in hand, quite the contrary. Designing 5 star hotels for 2 star budgets as we often say is quite a challenge. Developers generally don’t want to spent the (quality) money they should, operators on the other hand like to get out of it as much as they can…we are trying to make ends meet . While you would think the contrary, owners / developers who are also operators are actually the worst to deal with. Today I had a tale of two opposite stories. I first had design meetings for a new project with one of our favourite operators, one who understands the meaning of good quality design and who goes into bat for their consultants with the owners to get the very best…design meetings are very satisfying, as consultants feel respected. The meetings are efficient and most of all respectful, design options are professionally reviewed and creative ideas validated on their merit. At the other end of the spectrum I had a coordination meeting with a client who also operates, in this case I was sort of summoned to the project managers office. The PM felt I was pushing too much responsibility of to the contractor and manufacturer/supplier. It’s a long story but my position is (using a metaphor) that if a car dealer sells a car he takes responsibility of the car as an end product and if there is something wrong with the tyres for instance, he will fix it, and not say go talk to the tyre manufacturer. We have a similar issue with the chandelier in this project. There are some serious lamps – diming issues with the chandelier manufacturer basically washing his hands clean asking us to solve it. That is not the attitude of a professional and responsible product manufacturer. I am happy to help, assist and recommend, but I am not a chandelier manufacturer, not an electrician, neither a structural engineer and as such cannot take on the end responsibility of a chandelier as an end product. It also does not help that the project manager is a close friend to the chandelier manufacturer which clearly seems to cloud judgment. It is a real challenge to work under these circumstances.
Our (happy) new hotel project…
Wednesday 18, Singapore – The eve of CNY
Over the last weeks suppliers and other related businesses have been delivering their CNY’s hampers to our office; a tradition in this part of the world and a way to express their gratitude towards our confidence in using their products and services. Sometimes they come from the least expected companies, some you have hardly dealt with, but then I reckon it may be an incentive to use them more actively in the new year. Whatever the case we always end up with stacks of food and drink goodies, chocolates, cookies, wines etc. Some of it is used directly in the office, the rest I invite the staff to take home whatever they want. This year is the same as every other…wishing everyone a happy and fantastically successful new year of the goat! Here are some mood images from the traditional Chinese New Year Market in Chinatown…
The week that was…