In conversation with | Simon Fallon
“The way we inhabit and use spaces may be very different in the next five years, so we need to be prepared to adapt and embrace the change!”
With Simon’s prolific creativity, he brings contemporary and inspiring design to every project across an extensive range of local and international projects. His close working relationships with our clients and passion for quality design thinking, creative solution and attention to detail has contributed to the success of projects in Hospitality, Residential, Retail, Commercial and also Education. Always with a smile and a spring in his step, Simon is dedicated and motivated by design and quality.
What made you enter the design world?
Since I was a kid in Ireland, I have always had a passion for design and architecture. I used to build scale models of houses and buildings from cardboard boxes or used cereal and cornflake packets, or what ever I could get my hands on. In fact I still have some of my models with me today to remind me of my passion.
One of the moments that truly inspired me was, at age 13 years, I went with my father to see a large ruined country house estate in Ireland called Castleboro which had burnt out during the Irish civil war in 1923. It’s classical monumentalism impressed me so much and stirred my imagination such that I wanted to explore its potential. As a result I started working on restoring a large 18th century 13 bedroom country house, learning all the various trades from plastering, painting to gilding and furniture restoration. Its was my neighbour In Ireland, a native of Sydney in fact, who really pushed me to reach beyond the shores or the emerald isle and enrol in interior design at The university of North London, now long Metropolitan University further feeding and developing my passion for design.
What is the best part of your working day?
The morning time and feeling like you have achieved something! However… as many of you know…not without my coffee!!! I’m like ‘Miranda Priestley’ without one!
You have been with PMDL for 19 years, how has it evolved? Have there been any noteworthy developments?
There have been many evolutions over the years and all for the betterment of the PMDL and it’s culture. One of the greatest achievements I believe was the opening of both the Melbourne and Hong Kong studios over the years. We broadened our reach and offer to our clients and it offers opportunities to the team to engage in new and exciting projects.
Your expertise range across many sectors. How different/similar are they?
I have had variety of experience working across many sectors. I graduated in a recession so needed to be agile and creative to obtain any sort of creative job in the market place. My first job was at the age of 16 was in Bath, doing work experience at an architectural practice. Then post-graduation my experience ranged from residential in very high end interiors for the Grosvenor Estate in London to a theme park in Germany to designing cruise ships! I was happy take it all on board! I believe that gaining a broad range of experience can only make you stronger and open minded to new opportunities and design challenges.
How do you approach a project?
This varies depending on the project type or sector but the one key fundamental to a good start is that ‘we think before we draw’. We listen first to what the client’s brief is and what their ambitions are. Engage the team as they are the best asset to really think hard about the brief and set clear design goals, that both give an insightful design outcome and, of course, a wow factor to take the client on an exciting journey.
Do you think constraints often produce better work?
Absolutely! Some of the best designs we know are the product of constraints. This may be due to economic recession, reduced budgets, confined space or local planning restrictions. It’s this type of thinking within architecture and design that sets us apart and fuels our passion, creativity and develops our expertise!
What are the key factors in leading retail and hospitality design and how to you see it evolving over those next 5 years?
Having worked in various sectors over many years, I’ve experienced how each sector is intrinsically connected. Consumer design, as we call it, embodies both retail, hospitality and leisure as a customer immersive experience.
The key factors in leading consumer design is by maintaining brand relevance through agility, marketability and brand presence. In the next five years these will still be as important as agility to adapt to the market needs as the currently unpredictable economy with the effects of Covid 19. The way we inhabit and use spaces may be very different in the next fives years thus we just need be prepared to adapt and embrace the change… it also offers great design opportunities challenges to people like us!
What was your biggest life changing moment that assisted you in your leadership of PMDL?
From a young age I was always a little bit on the ‘bossy boots’ side and I always believed that opportunity is always taken, never given. I think being an Aries star sign might also contributed to that depending on your beliefs.
I would have to admit that one of my biggest life changing moment would be making the move to the Hong Kong studio from my cosy Sydney home and support and leading the team here; taking the opportunity to develop and nurture our client relationships.
How do you work across time zones?
With patience and virtue! LOL. As an internationally focused practice, we need to make sacrifices to meet both team and client needs. Being based in Hong Kong, it is seen as a normal procedure to allow for time changes as this city is a base for many international head offices with teams spread globally.
Last question, best hang out place in Hong Kong?
Central, Sheung Wan and Soho! The city is so compact… its so easy to get around and the friendliness of everyone is infectious. Otherwise in summer the many stunning beaches like Tai Long Wan or to be honest… anywhere air-conditioned with a gin and tonic! The heat is stifling July and August!