Be open to ideas and move beyond “the right way” or “this is how we do it”

When you have worked for various companies and clients in different countries and cultures you soon realise that there is not one way to do something. Never get lost in the pushing what you think is the “right way of doing it” on to others.  You may have learnt the “right way” at school or university or at the starchitect firm you worked at but you soon realise that way of doing it may have been right for that time or project. Education institutions, Society and Culture are all too often hung up on the proving and judging what is the right way and ignoring the fact that learning and innovation comes from testing, failing, learning and trying different ways.

Doing something the same way for years just ends up perpetrating the cycle without improvement. Be open to other ideas and continue to research, analyse, review, and learn whether it is designing, working or living.

What’s in a name? Companies that use country of origin to become ‘international’

There is a growing number of landscape firms in China, some are foreign, some local and many a mix (often referred to as sino-american or sino-australia, etc). The company names are interesting to read some a very simple and aimed at a certain market, others keep their name from abroad or just create a literal translation of their name in Chinese. There is however a disturbing trend of ‘international’ firms in China that are international in name only. These are the chinese firms that register a name in Australia, USA, Canada, UK or another country and state that they are an international company. This is disturbing to me as many do not have any international staff or qualifications but are utilising the simple business registration laws in overseas countries.

Many of these firms are in a ‘rush to the bottom’ by alluding to clients that they are international – they maybe in a legal sense but not culturally or in their design approach. The reason many developers and governments engage international firms is to gain the broad experience and talented staff that many international firms have at their disposal. This is not to say there aren’t good local chinese firms with talented designers – there are many. However, the illusion the ‘international’ companies are creating will in the long run hurt their company, the country they supposedly represent and the landscape design industry in China. I am not disturbed that they are using international names or countries as selling point, I am disturbed that they are harming landscape architecture in China, which is very young although China has a long history of garden and landscape design, the landscape architecture profession is relatively immature.