The Raffles Conversation, published in the Singapore Business Times every Saturday for the last 28 years, is a wide-ranging interview with celebrated newsmakers and personalities deeply, going beyond thumbnail sketches and getting them to open up about their life’s work, management style and personal philosophies. Below is an excerpt from Uma Devi’s conversation with Patrick Bellew of Atelier Ten.
The recent floods in China and wildfires in Australia, says Mr Bellew, are “direct costs of (people) making bad decisions in everything they do”. He believes that climate change poses a much-bigger threat than the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to roil the global economy.
“Clients can sometimes get a little bit afraid that we’re going to bring them things that they can’t afford, or expose them to extra costs that they don’t necessarily want to invest in.”
But he points out that these costs are “a drop in the ocean” compared to the cost of making wrong decisions. For instance, if a company were to set targets for cooling systems that are half that of traditional buildings, it could cut the size of a building in half and potentially save millions of dollars.
“The biggest problem we get is when people are small-minded enough to say it will cost $200,000 to do a study, but we might save them $20 million if they spend a little bit of money now to understand what the issues are,” he says.
Atelier Ten prides itself on its “interrogation” tactics with clients by probing and asking questions about making sustainable choices, and offering them opportunities.
And to be able to offer choices to clients, the firm’s research-backed approach is what helps it stand out from the crowd.
“We spend a lot of time on research and development,” Mr Bellew says. “One change over the last 30 years has been about shifting from being pretty instinctive about how we design things to being incredibly technical.”
Read the full conversation here (paywall).
Photo by Astrid Eckert.