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  • Lucy Grant

#BeyondCOVID Town Hall - EUK 01

Updated: Aug 24

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#BeyondCOVID is the new mindset we have all had to adopt… how do we operate in this new changed state? I've gathered together some amazing Design Executives to share what they are doing now and in the coming months to survive and thrive in these difficult times.





Town Hall Notes:

Contributors:

  • Kirsty Dias - Managing Director at PriestmanGoode

  • Emilia Borgthorsdottir - Senior Industrial and Interior Designer at VE123

  • Ágúst Ingasson - Executive Producer and Board Member at treasure Trekkers Entertainment, Chairman of the Board – ALDIN Biodome

  • Willam Knight - Director at The Renew Consultancy

  • Michael LambrianosManaging Director at Wiesner Hager UK

  • John Mathers - Chairman of British Design Fund, Drum Design Awards and MOBIE, Professor of Design - Tongji University, Governor - Falmouth University

  • Martha McNaughton - Brand and Communications Consultant

  • Anna MeyerHead of Communications at PriestmanGoode

  • Julia Monk - Hospitality Thought Leader, Architect, Interior Designer, Former Senior VP, Director of Hospitality Interior Design at HOK

  • Adrian Westway - Principal at Special Projects, Design & Intervention Studio


Quote Bank

‘The industry, the structures and the software in London, particularly for design and design promotion, are really in need of an upgrade’ - William Knight
‘A call to action is really what I’m hearing here’ - William Knight
‘The frantic nature of modern life has meant that we have just accepted things, but this slowdown is acknowledging the fact that there are a lot of walls that can be broken down’ - William Knight
‘I get a sense that there is great positivity towards the notion of the collective’ - William Knight
‘Use this period to have lots of conversations with people; to think of new ideas and new initiatives’ - Kirsty Dias
Hong Kong society was very well prepared emotionally, culturally and socially… they knew all of the actions to go through’ - Julia Monk
‘Everyone’s drive and desire to become very innovative about the services they’re offering and how they fit back into the community is very consistent’ - Julia Monk
‘Everyone can understand what’s happening in the immediate future, but it’s the future in six months to a year that is really in question’ - Julia Monk
‘If we end up with a clearer idea of the truth, honesty and good business practice at the end of all this, that alone will have made all of this pain worthwhile.’ - Julia Monk
‘We are looking to a new-norm - it’s not going to be the normal we know, but a new kind of normal’ - Ágúst Ingasson
‘People are going to be more conscious about what they are doing… tourism is going to be more experience-driven and health-driven’ - Ágúst Ingasson
‘Everyone says that it is during times of crisis like this that innovation really happens’ - John Mathers
‘I think this crisis will do something that it would have taken years to do otherwise… it will accelerate the way that people act’ - John Mathers
‘What I am finding is that those clients [emerging designers, younger artisans] are responding quite well… they have adjusted and jumped on this opportunity, whereas the more established brands I am working with have struggled’ - Martha McNaughton
‘This is the time to focus on your digital footprint’ - Martha McNaughton
‘It is not just about how you as a brand communicate what you’re doing, but how the design industry as a whole will position itself and its role going forward’ - Anna Meyer
‘There is so much value in design thinking and what it can do to help not just on a product level but on a service and business level… this is a really good time for design thinking to come to the fore’ - Anna Meyer
‘The companies that seem to be faring best at the moment are those that focus on environmental and social governance… there is inevitably going to be a shift towards much more conscious consumerism’ - Anna Meyer

William Knight

  • Understanding the potential of design

  • ‘The industry, the structures, the software in London, particularly for design and design promotion, are really in need of an upgrade’

  • An informal network – Design Dialogue – creating a social moment for the design community

  • How we can still make local working effective

  • How best to support the industry? How do we reboot?

  • There is a lot of optimism around the opportunities this situation presents

  • ‘The call to action is really what I’m hearing here’

  • ‘The frantic nature of modern life has meant that we have just accepted things, but this slowdown has acknowledged the fact that there are a lot of walls that can be broken down’

  • ‘I get a sense that there is great positivity towards the notion of the collective’

Kirsty Dias

  • All our existing clients and work is continuing

  • Made the transition to WFH in a speedy way which has allowed our work to continue

  • ‘Using this period to have lots of conversations with people; think of new ideas and new initiatives’

  • There is a space here for some really productive conversations

Julia Monk

  • HK-based

  • ‘What has been particularly interesting living in Hong Kong is that because of the SARS virus that happened in 2003 and 2004, the Hong Kong society was very well prepared emotionally, culturally and socially… they knew all of the actions to go through’

  • As a result, Round 1 in HK was very tame

  • Wasn’t until around 3-weeks ago, when ppl started returning from their Chinese New Year holidays that we started experiencing Round 2

  • Government response was to order all those returning to Hong Kong to isolate, however those already in Hong Kong can continue doing what they’re doing

  • Lost all of the tourism and travel business – having knock down effects in hospitality and food and beverage across the city

  • In general, still operating and able to go out (with masks on)

  • Biggest impact now is happening on a global scale as everything else is shutting down

  • Expecting China to return sooner than the rest of the world

  • ‘Everyone’s drive and desire to become very innovative about the services they’re offering and how they fit back into the community is very consistent [across Australia and the UK]’

  • ‘Everyone can understand what’s happening in the immediate future but it’s that future in 6-months to a year that is really in question’

  • I think there is going to be a whole new sense of consumerism

  • ‘If we end up with a clearer idea of the truth and honesty and good business practice at the end of all this, that alone will have made all of this pain worthwhile.’

Ágúst Ingasson

  • A similar response to HK

  • The tourism industry has vanished over the course of a few weeks

  • Biodome Project – large bio-square inspired by Gardens by the Bay – using geothermal energy

  • Finally had all the permits in place and were in talks with key investor group, however it all paused around 6-weeks ago – currently in limbo but hopefully able to secure investments

  • Devices to help create momentum and progress – ‘there is an opportunity here in terms of socially responsible businesses’

  • We are set to open in 2023 – looking three years into the future

  • ‘We are looking to a new-norm - it’s not going to be the normal we know, but a new-norm’

  • ‘People are going to be more conscious about what they are doing… tourism is going to be more experience-driven and health-driven’

  • It’s going to create an opportunity for a project like Biodome

Adrian Westaway

  • Tiny studio of 6 people

  • At the moment, it is too soon to tell

  • Often our projects have to start within a month or two of being briefed, so we usually don’t have a pipeline of beyond 6-months

  • Had a big project start last week – surprising – originally going to rely on a lot of user research in the US but on ethical grounds decided to hold the research

  • About a third of our work is with small startups – at the moment is continuing as planned – curious to see how some of those smaller start-ups do with investment

  • With models like Kickstarter – where you are paying for something now that you will get in a year’s time – it might work quite well, having something to look forward to

  • In six months’, time, we will really know

  • We are lucky because we are small, our overheads are quite low and it’s easy to disperse

John Mathers

  • Just about to close our second fund at the end of the month – put on hold

  • We had done all sorts of due diligence on new startups we were about to invest in but of course, that will have to all be revisited when the time comes

  • One of the areas in the UK that there hasn’t been proper support for – the Start-Up market

  • ‘Everyone says that in times of crisis like this, this is the time when innovation really happens’

  • UKRI organisation (industrial strategy) just launched a 20 million pound competition looking for innovation following the global disruption of COVID

  • Looking from a government perspective ‘I think this crisis will do something that it would have taken years to do… it will accelerate the way that people act’

Michael Lambrianos

  • Many projects that were on the go when the situation began – resulted in a spike immediately thereafter

  • The way that we are providing information now is predominately in a digital format

  • Seen a resurgence of inquiries

  • Adapting the invoicing system to cater to new working environments

  • More positivity – we saw that a lot of meetings, seminars, and events that were initially canceled altogether have since adapted to a more long-term approach

Emilia Borgthorsdottir

  • Work has minimized for sure – since Jan/Feb

  • People have increased flexibility now due to WFH

  • The Icelandic government has responded with generous schemes for firms

Martha McNaughton

  • ‘What I am finding is that those clients [emerging designers, younger artisans] are responding quite well… they have adjusted and jumped on this opportunity whereas the more established brands I am working with have struggled a lot more’

  • How do you get established brands to play catch-up and adapt to this change?

  • Advising brands that ‘this is the time to focus on your digital footprint’

  • A lot of companies and individuals are using this time to focus on their websites, digital marketing, pushing out content themselves, and keeping their brands front of mind for consumers

Anna Meyer

  • Conversations are accelerating

  • There has been a lot of momentum building in the industries that we work in around sustainability – this [current situation] is going to make change happen a lot faster

  • ‘it is not just about how you as a brand communicate what you’re doing, but how the design industry as a whole will position itself and its role going forward’

  • ‘There is so much value in design thinking and what design thinking can do to help not just on a product level but a service and business level… this is a really good time for design thinking to come to the fore’

  • The consumer demand is going to be changing a lot – consumers are much more conscious of the behavior of the companies that they purchase from

  • ‘The companies that seem to be faring best at the moment are the ones that focus on environmental and social governance… there is inevitably going to be a shift towards much more conscious consumerism’


Hosted by: Mark Bergin

Podcast Production: Pat Daly

Notes: Lucy Gran

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