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#BeyondCOVID Town Hall - Asia 01

Updated: Jul 24, 2020



Andrew Mead

  • Ridership (MTR) dropped dramatically when HKG closed the border to the mainland

  • Government has been encouraging a WFH policy, despite there being no enforced lockdown

  • The big challenge for public transit around the word is that we are not a social distancing business

  • How do you maintain social distance in a train?

  • Around 50% capacity on the trains

  • 100% mask wearing in public – not a legal requirement but a social cue

  • Ridership was already down in HKG due to the protests

  • As a company we very quickly responded: masks for all employees, increased cleaning schedule for the trains, accelerated the introduction of a cleaning robot to spray a disinfectant inside the trains overnight

  • Sharing the tech with the rest of the industry

  • We have been conducting more online meetings and therefore making decisions at a more rapid pace to get ahead of timelines

  • Maturing technologies

  • There are some new presentation skills and techniques that we (especially teachers) need to learn

Ophenia Liang

  • How do you get Chinese language and English language to be able to communicate and market with each other?

  • Pre-pandemic: all the western brands are planning to break into the Asian market - after the pandemic hit this all went quiet

  • China is gradually opening up – Chinese brands having to abandon their export marketing (trade shows overseas etc.)

  • Instead, Chinese brands are looking to build digital marketing overseas - the demand is there

  • Western brands, especially online education, want to target Chinese markets

  • Reports coming out from China indicate that online groceries and live produce, as well as online content and paid-for content (education and entertainment) are the top two markets that have adapted to the conditions of the pandemic

Jamie Durie

  • TV side of business is great – more bums on seats than ever

  • The shot in the arm that TV needed given recent shifts towards streaming content

  • In terms of the design business, some of our strategies have changed due to COVID (positive changes, hopefully for the better)

  • We (the world but particularly Australia) now have an increased confidence in shopping online

  • People who normally wouldn’t shop online are – capturing this market by creating a series of high-end catalogues targeted directly at certain households while we have their attention

  • Direct mail marketing to force the traffic to our online site

  • Online meetings are generating a more focused group of people to present to than a boardroom

  • These new conference styles (e.g. Zoom) are a forced mechanism to teach us all to be a little more present when we are conversing… and there’s nothing wrong with that

Bob Neville

  • You have to be agile and adapt

  • Adaptability, resourcefulness, the intent to really push on

  • By Nov 2019, we had already started doing a lot of VR work to share the build experience through online resources

  • We have been building not just the built space but the virtual space as well

  • Each brand has a colossal demand for photographs (for branding and marketing)

  • Enter: Digital Factory – a process driven environment – able to take 1.5 million photographs during the course of a year for a brand

  • Using extra down time to have some fun online – LinkedIn as an example. Having continual conversations and interactions. Has been extremely insightful

  • The appetites of industries are changing

  • Certainly interested in people’s view on how much we will be travelling post-COVID

Catherine Shaw

  • Not letting projects that seem unfeasible on a surface level dry up completely – reimagining how we can keep projects going and plan for the future

  • I generally have a rule that I don’t write about projects that I haven’t seen for myself, as you are then completely reliant on what PR has provided you

  • When you walk through a space as a writer, the value you add is to give an authentic review of how you feel in the space

  • Working quite differently with architects online – having to ask questions that push them, e.g. When you are walking into the space how does it feel? Is it intimate? What is the light like? Etc. And then asking questions that will confirm their answers

  • Steering clear of just regurgitating the press releases

  • Be agile, think about different ways that you can get your information

  • When I write about something, if I’m not 100% sure then I will say that

  • I am now having to open my mind differently to projects and ask different questions

  • The one thing that is really difficult [to capture in a photograph] is the texture, the tactility of something, because a photograph is so flat – and that is where the beauty of layering within interiors really comes out

  • Video images are going to become the way for designers and creatives to really get across their ideas

  • There is a different appetite…There isn’t any desire for overly glamorous theatrical design, but clever and resourceful design e.g. Paul Cocksedge’s Here Comes the Sun – Picnic Blanket

Julia Monk

  • Right now, everybody is quite challenged by the fact that we can’t travel

  • Have to retool and create new plans – involving a lot of reaching out online

  • Have established lots of connections through 40 years’ experience designing hotels – many of whom now have their own businesses. Now finding that these people are calling to begin a dialogue about their business and how to retool for the new market

  • Teaches a course every year at Harvard Graduate School on hotel design – how can we reformat an entire course that is very interactive, to become an online course?

  • The situation right now is creating a fascinating space for digital/online transitions

Dylan Brady

  • Has projects in Aus, China & Vietnam – running them the same way they always have, by remote digital communication

  • The digital space has been quite compelling – we are no longer deferring important meetings to face-to-face time, which has meant some decisions have been accelerated

  • Grateful to have work in Asian countries like China and Vietnam that are beginning to open up again

  • There has been a really, really significant reconnection because of this. No longer can we rely on the people who are in our circle that we bump into… we have to reach out to our digital network

  • It has been really interesting to watch supply chains break and then reconnect

  • Just picked up a project in Joshua Tree, which came out of a series of web-links and online interactions

  • In this forum [zoom], you can be looking at everybody at once… it’s a really different interface for reactions and speed of decisions

  • That time lost from travel is ours now

Michael Tam

  • The driver of digital transformation is no longer the CEO, the CTO etc., but COVID-19

  • Even has suddenly realised the need to transform their business into a digital experience – the issue is these kinds of projects are long-term and require big budget approvals; how do we get these approvals?

  • Luckily at IBM we have all the infrastructure for an online transition in place

  • Changing the conversations with clients around bringing the digital into interior spaces

  • Making the offline and physical experience equal to the digital online experience

  • Used to do a lot of physical face-to-face design thinking workshops for clients and the community – now, we have all switched to digital formats. The good thing is, when we get to ideation, by using a Mural platform people become much more focused

Hosted by: Mark Bergin

Podcast Production: Pat Daly

Notes: Lucy Grant

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