The new office is being headed by former Future Brand Singapore head of strategy and innovation Dominic Mason, who has spent the past couple of years since leaving the company running his own consultancy in Singapore. Mason approached Elmwood after learning in Design Week that the group was looking to set up an office in Singapore (DW 21 October 2009).
Managing director Mason will report to the vice-president for Asia, Joe Rogers, who is based in Australia. Elmwood aims to build the Singapore team to 12 in the next 18 months. Most of the designers will be recruited locally.
Elmwood chairman Jonathan Sands says, ’Design education in Singapore is fantastic and there is real talent over there that reminds me of the high craft skills era that we had here in the 1980s.’ He is considering bringing Singaporean designers to the UK offices ’to refresh our gene pool’.
Elmwood is also looking to open an office in Hong Kong by the end of the year, in response to a client with a mainland China growth plan. Sands says, ’I already have my eye on someone in the region to head the office’.
Next year, Elmwood hopes to enter Switzerland to woo the pharmaceuticals market, probably through making a ’small acquisition’ there. The group is also hoping to swell its US offices to four with another acquisition in San Francisco.
Here in the UK, Elmwood is buying a minority stake in a design group that will bring a ’very specialised’ discipline to its offer. The acquisition is currently in the final stages of due diligence and will be announced in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Elmwood is moving its Scottish operation into the offices of Edinburgh-based interior design group Bright 3D, with which it is working on projects in the Middle East. The move is partly intended to free up cash to help fund Elmwood’s acquisitions.
’There is an argument that due to client consolidation, the design market is shrinking in the UK. Now business is either global or niche and the middle ground is a dangerous place to be, which is why we are going global,’ says Sands.
Learn to speak Elmwood
- Elmwood is about to publish a lexicon of ’Elmwoodisms’ that will be given to all its employees in an attempt to keep the group bound together, under its ’one Elmwood’ initiative
- Elmwood jargon includes ’WIBSCAT’, the W of which stands for ’wow’ and the S for ’simplicity’