Archives for category: What I Do

If you are anything like me, when I heard there was such a thing as The Stevie Awards, I was over all that like on Obeid on a mining lease. Anything that champions the awesomeness of Stevie Nicks is all good by me (*Disclaimer, I have found out since the Stevie’s do not relate to Stevie Nicks AT ALL. TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT).  Turns out that The Stevie’s are the world’s biggest business awards and I won a bronze award for Service Company In Australia at the recent Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, presented in Seoul.

But this is not about that.

My Dad and I at the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

My Dad and I at the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

I have not really thought too much about what I do differently in my 13 years of being a biz owner to my competitors, I just focus on producing my very best work every time and of being of service to my clients, project after project, day after day.

But if I had to sum up, my business advice can be distilled as this:

  1. Don’t get your semi-trailer containing your Motor Show stand hijacked by two hookers in Perth.
Take your own food and snacks to site.  I swear I once ate a burger made of cat at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. It was epically bad. And I gave up eating meat for 8 months afterwards.
  1. The most important two words in any business is thank you. Use repeatedly and more than you think you should.

To follow my own advice, I have a cavalcade of thanks:

  • To my team Fiona, Anastasia, Lisa, Dave and Trudy I am so lucky to have the support of such talented and hardworking team.  They truly embody the Diva manta of “We love being of service” and “Will there be cake?”.
  • To my Mum, Dad, my sister Emma and my Aunty Christine.  They had to endure me as I grew up turning my room into an exhibition space where I displayed my artwork for sale…and then claiming it back once they had purchased it.  They have loved and encouraged me when I decided I was going to make art my career and any success I have is shared equally with them.
  • To the Diva Council.  Most of my friends appear on the council, along with mentors, coaches (Denise, Victoria, Koach Kim, Nathan the Demonic Personal Trainer) and rowing squad.  I glean so much inspiration, direct and sometimes indirect advice from them.  A recent addition to the Council has included Colleen who I sat next to on a flight to Singapore and after a fine time drinking the champagne stash dry in business class, leaned across looked me squarely in the eye, clutched my hand in hers and said “whatever you do, make it FUN!” Who knew that a modern-day sage would be wrapped in Chanel and was just back from drifting down the Ganges and would be sitting next to me?!?  I love these type of random messages from the most unlikely sources.
  • To my suppliers and collaborators.  I am not prolific on the supplier or collaborator front, I tend to use the same team over and over as they can interpret my most whacktactular idea into something able to be built. And they are a joy to work with.  Joy is seriously underrated in business.  Why deal with complete muppets and people who suck your awesome when you can work with a team that take pride in their work, want to be supportive and come up with simple solutions to complex problems?
  • And most importantly to my clients.   I am so ridiculously lucky to have a first class client list that trust me to bring their display projects to life. I thank them for believing in a sketch and ideas played out with exaggerated hand movements, scrapbook torn images, quick drawings on the back of notepads and word pictures.  As the role of marketing is increasingly stretched, I love being of help and trying to find ways that I can at least wipe some elements off your to-do list and prove that the marketing department is not just a cost centre but is the funnel that all orders, purchases and money flow into a business.

And over to you dear reader…thank you. I have no idea how you manage to carve out the time to read this semi regular blog when you could be reading the ingredient list of packaged cheesecake, writing letters to Christopher Pyne with the plea for the love of God to just SHUT IT, or running up a new frock on the Singer.  I know that there are so many things competing for your time and I am truly grateful you spend some of your precious time reading my words.

Want to see an excitable foxy terrier trying and compose herself post award?  Check ME out!

See you next week!

I recently worked with Roland from Welkam when we built the Siemens stand @ the  AOCR exhibition in Sydney.  It was so interesting to chat with him and hear of his experience in the trade show industry, especially from the unique perspective of being a German based out of Japan!

Have a listen to our chat, hear how things are different on Japanese trade show stands and what Roland sees as the upcoming trade show trends.  Bonus!  You even get to hear that the all important monitor screens for the Siemens stand have turned up about halfway through our chat.

You can see more of Welkam’s work here.

And below are photos is the completed Siemens  trade show stand.

See you next week!

I often get asked what I do.

Hard to put into words but if I had to write it down it would include: design, tool kit, injured water lizard (yes, there is a corresponding story), project management, phone calls, many phone calls, tape measure, floor plan, forklift…ah, let’s just roll tape!

So I am sorry that I missed the normal Thursday posting on all things Diva but as you can see, I was riding the big rig.  To see more of the work I do for Siemens with the awesome Display Builders, please have a wander through their website. Giddy up!

See you next week and please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.

Following on from the last post about what I do, let me shine a light on what I don’t do:

  • I don’t kick puppies. Just so you know.
  • I am not an interior designer. This branch of design is fab but has a whole requires a whole bunch of skills that I do not have in my arsenal.
  • Even though my degree is in Industrial Design, I don’t design industries. Shame. I would really love to add some color and flavour to factories and industrial buildings. Check out how another designer Hong Kong based designer Arboit Ltd (photos by Dennis Lo Design) made the very unsexy bike gear manufacture house totally rad.Image
  • I don’t like working late at night. But I love working early in the morning when I’m at my freshest and sparkly best. I really fade late as the evening pushes along. Mind you this is challenging when so many exhibitions are now bumping in overnight. I often get queried on this by my clients and my answer is that organizers are being pushed on costs and are reluctant to hire the venue for an extra day. So those fun packed midnight installs are currently all the rage and the client pays higher labour and transport charges and all the organizers have done is send the costs down the pipeline.
  • I say no to the “can’t be done”. I just don’t accept the impossible. I like the challenge of finding solutions to a wedged tight problem. I may not come up with an ideal result or any answer at all but I’d like to give it a red hot go.  What I might come up with by researching, tapping the inspiration source and flexing the idea muscle might lead me to another jump off point.
  • I don’t want to be told by a client “can you please just copy this and change it a bit”.  Firstly, there is bad karma attached to this and secondly, why copy someone else?  The world needs new ways of thinking, mavens, renegades, innovators and the seriously out there.  Doing the “same old / same old” is tired and limiting.  Expand and embrace the new!
  • I don’t indulge doomsayers about the government.  The economy.  That music does not matter (like hell it doesn’t). That times are getting tougher and the people are getting battier.  Change is always in motion and there is always an up and a down cycle.

So now it’s time to roll the tape.  This time I have a tasty slice from Santigold “Les Artistes” who suddenly found herself an innovator.  Go girl!


But don’t feel bad.  My Dad thought I was a nurse before he saw me in action on site back in mid 90’s.

Yeah, those were the days when anyone with a yen for exhibitions could wander into the venue sans high visibility vest.  Hell, you could even smoke on site and splitting a case was almost ritualistic if the stand install had gone well. Now?  The OH&S rules have reigned in all that bad arse behaviour in but somehow organisers can still trim our install hours or insist on working overnight.  Huh.  Progress.

So here’s what I do:

  •  I design. Sometimes on paper, sometimes using the laptop.  Usually it is a collaborative effort with clients and other super amazing designers.  Inspiration is better shared.
  •  I project manage what is designed.  This totally keeps you honest as it is no benefit to anyone if you go off on a tangent developing a design that (a) can’t be built or (b) is so far over the client’s budget it is a real thigh slapper.
  • I write the specs for the work to be quoted, I seek competitive prices and then present the costs to the client for discussion. Am I over budget sometimes?  Sure, but that is when we go to the options column and look for ways to get what the client wants but with some compromises.
  • Once I have client sign off and the purchase order, we swing into red hot action.  The materials are ordered, the bench saw fired up, the graphic proofs are printed and construction is GO!
  • Come install time, I am usually on site to supervise or otherwise I have another project manager to fill in.  I make sure the display is built as planned and is at its sparkly best ready to proudly hand over to my client.
  • And then it’s time for a lay down in a dark room with a cool flannel on my head.

Next time: What I don’t do. See you in a fortnight. For more in the meantime: please take a goosey gander here.

But in the meantime, let’s check Dad and I on site in New York (Yay!):

Dad and I @ Guggenheim

And while we’re at it, I want to showcase some fines tunes so let’s roll tape.  “You Only Live Once” by The Strokes.  If you like it, buy it.