Theme: Value of Time for Designers
Interviewer: Catherine Wong
Catherine：So today our topic is TIME. Mende san, you always travel around to have meetings, lectures, forums and interviews through these years. You must be asked about thousands of questions. I was quite surprised you haven’t talked about today’s topic before.
Mende： Yes, I can’t remember any interview talking about time. It is quite fresh for me. Time is very important to everyone’s life, especially business or achievements. It’s always quite difficult but important aspect for design. I do like to forget about time sometimes. Do you have any occasion don’t worry about time?
Catherine：No, I always remember and aware of time as well. (Laughed)
Mende： I wish to forget about time, you know. But unfortunately I always automatically think about the next scheduled task, and try to finish this task by designated time. (Laughed) It is not smart to me to have this habit. I think this is my bad attitude. How do you think about Mr Mende, as a very punctual and straight person about time?
Catherine： Umm… I think it is okay. It is because this is your personality and attitude. To me, if you are aware of time that means you value the thing you are doing and respect the person you are with.
Mende：Yes, yes. On the business occasion, time is quite valuable, first priority maybe. That is why I am always checking with our staff, for example what time we have to finish this meeting. I don’t think long hours working represent good staff. I know some people or designers spend a long time but with low density work output. I even wondered if he was sleeping. (Laughed) Sometimes maybe we are tired and need short nap to rest in between work. So I set a 10 minutes timer and then sleep. Concentrate to sleep, concentrate to work at one time.
Catherine：Despite low efficiency and time management problem. Sometimes long hour work because of heavy work load within a tight schedule. However sometimes also because of different culture. Different people have different working culture. Just like among our offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Do you see any differences among us?
Mende：Ah… yes. Even in our 3 offices, Japanese staff always stay late while other people not. Japanese usually spend long time to think about a small detail. Not just designer, but also architect and engineers, they may need more time to work on it. However longer time sometimes may not make more creativity. Important thing is the density on how to spend the time.
Catherine： I think not the office, but the people are different. Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong people think in different way, so we perceive time in different way. Japanese might appreciate if you spend a long time on investigating one thing. However, in Hong Kong people’s perception, if you do like this, it means you are not capable or you cannot handle that subject.It might be little bit harsh, but you shouldn’t spend too much time on one thing. You should finish the task within a reasonable time. We are very practical and efficiency oriented.
Mende： I agree with you. I don’t like to spend whole day just on one object. I can only focus on one meeting or workshop in 2 – 3 hours in maximum, since I always concentrate and spend all energy in it.
I always try to switch my channel to different things, not only design. But finally, because of curiosity, I have too many interests. That’s why I always spend more time out of office, to do some outside activities after work.
Catherine：Right, I do agree. Other than work, other life experience do make a different to us. We don’t know when, but someday our experiences will affect us. That’s why we need to have different hobbies and leisure. We try and experience different things so we know life. Otherwise, if we just spend all our time sitting at the desk keep working, trying hard to design and create things, our work will be very difficult and unrealistic. It is because we are designing for the space or uses that we don’t even know. When we are talking about office and working culture. What kind of culture you want to have in LPA?
Mende： I don’t like to say which way is good to our staff. Each office or people from each country have different concept of time. Um… (Considering) Different people have different feeling and attitude of time. However even on the same subject, someone need 1 hour to complete, and some need 3 hours. Of course, if the result is the same, I hope 1 hour will do.
Catherine： For ability, do you mean the thinking of time?
Mende：Yes. Always think about the feeling of the length of time. For example, 3 minutes is very important to me. 180 seconds. How can I express my opinion or myself within this 180 seconds? Next critical time is 10 minutes, 10 minutes speech, like requested by interviewers. I had many training, such as TV broadcasting, which only 10 minutes to talk about the shadow. Then I made a little memo and keep practicing and bear in mind: 10 minutes, 10 minutes, and 10 minutes. After that, another stage is 2 hours design workshop, and then 7 hours of sleep for every day. This is my feeling of time.
Catherine： I see. That’s why you are such a punctual person, because you feel the length of time.
Mende： I have weekly, monthly and yearly plan. However the more important target or milestone is the next 10 years plan. I have the idea of how to spend my next 10 years. Do you have a similar one?
Catherine：Yes, I do, but a shorter one like 3 – 5 years. I think I don’t have enough life experience yet, so I cannot foresees too long or consider the variables. Therefore shorter length.
Mende： Young age people may not have any long term time perception. I have this attitude when I first set up this company at the age of 40 years old. I keep going forward until I came to 50 years old, then 60 years old. So you have more time to think about.
Catherine：Yes, that’s true. We need more practice with time, to be able to feel time and control time. So that our body know time like Mende san, as natural as breathing the air. Then we are able to achieve more.