HOK & ARIDO’s excellent adventure… part 4

Posting on behalf of Deborah Rutherford, Operations Leader for HOK in Canada’s Corporate Accounts Practice and President of ARIDO.

December 4th – Design Forum and PM Dinner in Shanghai

Canadian Trade Mission

Today was packed from one end to the other. I had never practised the PowerPoint I prepared 2 months ago so I stayed up until after 1:00 AM last night figuring out what I was going to say. I was the first of seven speakers and gave a retrospective of Corporate Office Interior Design in North America over the past 50 years, along with a few thoughts of where we might be heading. The audience was designers from Asia as well as interior design students and there were quite a few from other parts of the world who are living and working in Shanghai (England, France, Holland, Switzerland). I’m guessing that about 30% spoke English and the rest only Chinese. Speaking with a translator is awkward, and you wonder how much is getting left out, but hopefully all the photos I showed told the story. We have a few ‘Lessons Learned’ for the conference organizers, and number one is that you need to build in a few bio-breaks. The final discussion of the day was a presentation from our principal sponsor, Teknion; Arnie Rusinek showed a clip of the latest generation of Cisco’s telepresence technology. I thought the Cisco video conferencing we have in our ACR rooms is pretty amazing, but the next generation is holograms right in the room with you. HOK is always on the forefront of technology, so I wonder when we will see it in our offices.

PM Dinner-Lorella, Deborah, Susan, Jenny

A few of us had to miss a reception with our local Shanghai sponsor, Wu Bin of W Design. I’ve heard he puts on an amazing reception in his furniture showroom. Instead four of us ventured out on our first taxi trip to the Hyatt on the Bund. After we left our hotel, we were a little unnerved to realize that the driver didn’t appear to understand either the words Hyatt or Bund, but somehow we got there. We ended up in a huge traffic jam which was caused by the dinner we were going to with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai for our Prime Minister, Steven Harper, who’s also in China on a trade mission. We got out a half block away from the hotel and attempted to walk to it, but were stopped by the police who were not letting anyone through. The official parties were arriving and no one could walk down the street until everything was clear, even people like us who were attending the function. Security was intense, but we finally made it in to our first dinner with the PM and 500 of his closest friends. It was great to network with the local representation of many of our Canadian businesses. We even said hello to a table full of our hometown competition B+H Architects who have a large office in Shanghai. However, the highlight of the evening was to be able to go up and shake hands and have your picture taken with your own head of government; this will be one of those experiences I will treasure. I’m not sure when the official photographs will be available, but I hope they’re not blurry. My compliments to ARIDO’s Executive Director, Susan Wiggins, who manages to get us in the right place at the right time.


One Comment
  1. December 7th, 2009 - 1:06 pm
    Melissa Knight said:

    Oh Deborah….It sounds like your having a fabulous time, being shuffled here and shuffled there….You look fab too! Were missing you and can’t wait to hear all the little details when you get back…Keep up the blog posts, sounds like an amazing and exciting trip.

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