They say that Pete Wimberly was an "outdoors" person and hated air-conditioning. Hopefully he would have approved of our day out of the office enjoying the sun and tropical breezes at the Kohler Southeast Asian Golf Challenge held at the Tanah Merah Country Club representing WATG. On the 10th of November 2011, Robertino Limandibhratha, Nora Kaichung Pui and I had the great pleasure of enjoying a day with colleagues in the design industry on one of the top courses in Singapore, courtesy of our hosts Kohler, who have richly combined their pursuits in hospitality, design and golf.
The morning was greeted with warm hospitality, goodie bags, specially-allocated locker space with our names tagged over it, and a meet-and-greet with Mr. David Kohler himself. The buggies rolled out with all the hopefuls of landing a hole-in-one (after David announced the prize of $80,000 and their brand new "Numi"!). Our golf shoes brushed over dew blanketed fairways, divots were sacrificial and bunkers were not-to-be-mentioned-of. The air was filled with shrieks of joy and grunts of despair as the game progressed under the sweet tropical sun. Playing as a team allowed us to cheer whenever one of us sank a long putt and commiserate together over the bad shots.
What do golf and design have in common?
Both are about immersion and being in the zone, enjoying interventions through acts of the hand and eye and being lost in time and space - being in paradisical landscapes either in our head or in reality. It was great to have the opportunity to share our passions for both the sport of golf and design.
Thank you WATG for the opportunity and Kohler for the great golf day out!
"For me it, it was great to bond with my colleagues and to discover their hidden talents - golf brings out the best and worst in us and my impressions of my cool, tempered colleagues were only reinforced by their style and approach to the game."
"For me, it was just a priceless moment and what an opportunity to be able to take a break and go out on the course representing the company and having a great time with my colleagues."
The golf course was beautiful and Kohler as the host, was superb. We should do this more often guys, whether playing golf, tennis or simply picnic in the park. Lets get some "work hard and play hard" attitude going and have some fun together!
Nora Kaichung Pui
If you go to another WATG office halfway around the world, what would be different? This was the context of my trip as I embarked to London on a four month exchange this summer. Earlier this year, WATG wanted to initiate a staff swap program to foster greater interaction between offices. I think it took me less than a minute to write my request after it was announced. The exchange was discussed and agreed between the Managing Directors and senior leaders of each office. Afterwards, Kirsty Rutherford, my partner in the swap, and I agreed on our exchange date and off we went.
WATG just set up a new office in Fitzroy Square. A lot of moving in and construction noise going on but very impressive. The BT Tower makes for a great landmark and somewhat similar to the Aloha Tower outside the Honolulu office window.
There are two people in the Honolulu Planning team, compared to 16 in London. I think the multiplication factor worked equally in and out of the office. There are 7,825,200 in London, compared with 718,182 in Honolulu. The metropolitan area of London is equal in size to the entire island of Oahu which took some getting used to. Fortunately, all the signs are in English and the public transit system is quite good. My spare time was spent sightseeing; museums, shops, parks, etc. became a daily routine. Contrary to my predilection, I only used my umbrella a handful of times and I never had a bad meal.
Everyone in the London office welcomed me warmly and getting up and running was no problem with all the WATG conventions. Working on projects outside of my usual China projects was challenging but the place-making principles and WATG's philosophy of creating destinations that lift the spirit are very much the same. Also familiar is the great sense of exploration and yearning to discover new places and directions in design. I was fortunate enough to participate on trips to a private garden in Scotland and to Kenya, both of which were personally and professionally enriching. Missing my tropical mountains and ocean, I felt somewhat lost in the urbanity of London. Consequently, I grew to appreciate the open space of London's parks and squares. It made me realize how important open space in and urban environment is in terms of quality of life.
Now looking back at my trip, I still am amazed our global company shares so much in common. There is much to be for our unique locales but we all have a common desire for excellence in design, a curiosity of new and exotic places and a fellowship celebrating our labors at the end of the day over some drinks. And whether it's London, Honolulu, Singapore, Seattle, New York or Irvine, I think we all feel a little more at home with our WATG sign nearby. Much of what we do, we call differently, but there is much similarity both here in Honolulu and London and quite honestly wherever you go, and if we keep that in mind, it really is an incredible world we live in.
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make our staff swap possible: All the staff in the Honolulu and London Offices and Mike Seyle and Diana Stacey from Irvine.
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