Shanghai: Simon Park

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Simon Park on the rooftop of his Shanghai office building.

Simon Park on the rooftop of his Shanghai office building. Image: Simon Devitt

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Park at the PDM International office.

Park at the PDM International office. Image: Simon Devitt

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Park’s workplace, PDM International, where staff work on interior architecture projects for retail, hospitality and commercial spaces.

Park’s workplace, PDM International, where staff work on interior architecture projects for retail, hospitality and commercial spaces. Image: Simon Devitt

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Decorative trinkets at the PDM office.

Decorative trinkets at the PDM office. Image: Simon Devitt

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Photos of previous projects on display.

Photos of previous projects on display. Image: Simon Devitt

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Another shot of the well designed PDM International office space.

Another shot of the well designed PDM International office space. Image: Simon Devitt

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The PDM International Shanghai branch employs 60 workers.

The PDM International Shanghai branch employs 60 workers. Image: Simon Devitt

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The bright and airy staff kitchen.

The bright and airy staff kitchen. Image: Simon Devitt

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Fast, demanding, rewarding, annoying, frustrating, exciting, painful, smelly, loud, international and homely.” So goes Simon Park’s list of adjectives when asked to describe his adopted city.

Park moved here with his wife in 2007, a job with PDM International already sorted. He’d previously spent his career in Wellington where, with a CIT degree in interior architecture under his belt, he’d worked for Planet Design Consultants.

These days, it’s Park’s job to take care of business development, plus the design and delivery of projects completed by him and others at the 60-strong company. Recent commissions have included Adidas’ Shanghai headquarters and fit-outs for creative agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and Mindshare. At the moment, projects for L’Oréal and Toni & Guy hair salons, and a retail concept for Fossil are in the pipeline.

“In the design industry here, the velocity of projects is phenomenal,” says the 35-year-old. “It’s probably relatively easy to find a job here, but there’s nothing really logical or predictable about doing business. It’s a super-quick turnaround; there’s corruption everywhere.” Park lives in the French Concession with his wife Sarah and two children.

“It’s not the hardship posting it used to be,” says Park of the city. “And it’s much more palatable for tourists. If you don’t really want to be here then you will not linger because Shanghai won’t let you; the city churns people out. But it’s bloody fun because anything is possible.”

Park Recommends:

  • Going to a park to watch people flying kites, sword fighting and playing music.
  • A visit to Southern Barbarian for Yunnan food: mint and chilli salad, shredded potato cake and barbecued fish.
  • A cocktail – either a Negroni or an Aviation – at el Cóctel in the French Concession.

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