29.12.06

More than bricks and mortar

I've never before been near or inside a building designed by Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry. Since the Sentosa "Integrated Resort" ultimately did not go to Kerzner & Capitaland with their Gehry bid, the chances for that now are even more remote.

Of course, Gehry's recent freeform and curvaceously faceted buildings, such as the Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall in LA, have attracted a good amount of love and hate. In the same way, one of us islanders had described his design for the Sentosa IR as "a wad of wet tissue", while another, a "lantern" (I reckon it looks like a lion fish - which, if true, is a great literal dig at the Merlion!). Well, at least it was a design that stirred some imagination and inspired opinion. Give me architectural tissue or lantern anytime instead of Universal Studios...

What led me to think about Gehry was a random link to this Interview with Gehry in the Opinion Journal. Even if you don't know who Frank Gehry is, it's an interesting read for what it says about a man - and death. Or rather, what facing death may say about a man.

The interview cites his famed ignorance of computers, his reliance on teams of engineers and architects and this:
Then apropos of very little in particular, he says, "What I am interested in is, since it's 150 people here and a lot of people's lives and futures depend on it, how do you create a succession?" Again Mr. Gehry sounds passionate. "There's a way to leave it and pull the plug and I am fine and they"-referring to his employees-"lose." As part of managing for his own death, Mr. Gehry has been trying to build the public personae of the people who work for him, trying to direct some of the limelight that seems always oriented towards him in their direction. In the catalogs and exhibits devoted to his work, he makes sure to mention the people who worked with him on his various projects.
The interviewer calls this Gehry's "old fashioned virtue".

Some nights ago as J and I walked out of the cinema after watching Curse of the Golden Flower, the conversation wandered from the emperor's "necessary" tyranny to how things should be IF J, one day, have employees.

Our conclusion was that the "old-fashioned virtue" of Gehry's is something that must be pursued. Of course, Gehry's approach can be understood as anachronistic because succession is seldom an issue today. The mark of success is being able to sell off your company for a huge profit as soon as possible. Quick and easy. And it is both "old-fashioned" and a virtue because the workplace tells you that aggressive self-marketing is what keeps you successful, not letting others - much less your employees - steal your limelight. So in contrast to all this, while Gehry may have a parent's obstinate insistence on knowing what's good for you, he seems a good man for having a parent's wise, loving generosity.

in-no-cent (純)
image by J

And as usual, J has a more succinct way of putting all this: (taken from his flickr)visited a client today. an italian. he told me that he wants to help other succeed. Hence, he always beileve in giving his employees, those who show potential, opportunities to learn his culinary skills. and even to give his employees reasonably good (by local standards) renumeration packages. Local bosses, learn, learn. This should not be a world where you pay $1 to someone, and you intend to squeeze $1.20 from them. This should be a world when someone ask for $1, give them $1.20. They will give you $2 back. pay-it-forward, so they have beautifully coined this act of generosity. :)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

J is gonna own a designfirm ?? can sb send in portfolio for consideration?? she needs a job =_=

ampulets said...

hello. sb. i have been officially appointed as the ceo, captain, leader of ampulets for the last 4 months. And btw, am also the cleaning lady occassionally, the deliver boy, the IT helpdesk (who always have to end up pulling my hair out - that also explain my receding hairline), the business developer, designer of the company. sb is better off joining something more systematically set up la. someplace where sb can be one day, build the ampulets office, if there ever be one. haaa. -TOHA

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