2013 Market Winner: AECOM Hong Kong Office by AECOM

As the winners of the 2013 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 48 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.

We spoke with Jane Chen, Vice President of AECOM Shanghai, about time constraints, designing for core values and enhancing corporate culture.

When did you decide to pursue a profession in design?
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a designer. But I didn’t know the difference between different majors. So I applied for Landscape Design. So my major is Landscape.

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How did you find your love for design? Is there anyone who played a major role in that?
I loved painting, and I didn’t want to be an engineer or a scientist. I wanted a job that I can always have fun. That is why I chose design related majors when I applied for colleges.

Did you ever stray from this path or think about changing course?
In fact, I started as an Architect after graduate from Landscape Architecture. After 15 years of being an architect, I stray from this path to Interior Design.

What about this project represents why you choose to be a designer?
I believe a good interior design, particularly for corporate interior, is tailor made to best suite the image, culture and operational requirement of the client. Our HK office is the Asian Headquarter of AECOM, and our design is to best represent the images and core value of AECOM.

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What is your first memory of the project?
It is a renovation project. My first memory of it was my first site visit, low ceiling, dark spaces, sea of working stations…

Tell me something that was unusual about the project.
My client is my boss’s boss’s… boss. He is the head of AECOM Asia! But it was fun working with him.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned during this process?
Good design can change people’s working behavior, can reveal/ or enhance corporate culture and core values.

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Tell me about the selection process for this project. What do you think made them select you for this work?
We did our own Shanghai office first and everybody loves it. Ha!

How do you think interior design is different in China than in other parts of the world?
No time for design, short construction schedule.

What are the challenges in designing for your own space?
Everybody knows me, if some of users don’t’ like the design, they know who to blame on!

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