So here we are. In Singapore. I’m hiding out in the air conditioning. It is so hot. Hopefully I’ll get used to it. Otherwise I’ll have to shave off all my bodyhair. The heat is kind-of a simile for everything experienced so far – relentless. We got off the plane, unpacked our bags, then I started my new job. It’s a kick in the butt to keep up these weeknotes – I look forward to coming back to read these in a few months / years time to see what has changed.
IPG Mediabrands is my new employer. I work in an office of about 40–50 in Clarke Quay, a kind-of touristy area of Singapore right on the river. It reminds me of Leicester Square a bit, with the throngs of tourists and mad bars/restaurants blasting music at the passers-by. Could be worse—it’s within walking distance of some awesome sushi, and it’s not in some weird media-park or something like that.
I’ll attempt to explain the set-up within IPG cos it’s kinda convoluted. IPG Mediabrands own tons of other companies. They’re a bit like WPP in that sense—they own R/GA which is kinda mad. Within IPG I’m working for a sub-brand called Ingenuity. Ingenuity is focussed on solving business problems from an e-commerce perspective, using digital technology. So super-basically we make it much simpler for people to get hold of the products they want, and we use tech to make it simpler. So far there’s two of us based in Singapore—myself and my boss, Valli. There are more people scattered about across the region but I have yet to meet them. Within the Singapore office of IPG I am the only designer. The atmosphere in the office is worlds apart from what I am used to, it certainly isn’t a design studio, lets put it that way. Most people are involved with media buying in some way, and they work for various other sub-brands of IPG. We all work from cubicles. It’s new for them to have design capabilities in the office, and as far as I know there are plans to build the team, so it’ll be interesting to see how we can build a good atmosphere in which we can do great work together. Having said that, it’s super-easy to focus cos I don’t know anyone yet, and I’m rarely interrupted. I don’t think I have ever been so productive…
In the first week we had a client meeting. I spent the first 3 days working up a handful of prototypes that showed how some new services might work for one of our clients. We used Marvel to build them, and just took an iPhone to the meeting. No slides, no deck, no presenting. Just a phone. So refreshing to work this way. The client immediately understands what they’re looking at, they see how it can work and understand the value of it to their business. No need to be so indirect with showing the ideas. The next phase is working up the UX and seeing how this particular service fits in with all the other stuff they’re doing. Then the rest of the week I’ve been designing and building the new agency website and branding. It feels so satisfying to be hands-on with the design again. It’s great to be able to withhold judgement and build something quickly, then look at it with a critical eye and make improvements or scrap it. Feels good. No talking, just doing.