WHERE THERE IS A WILL
"Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
Apple has got the same access, the same talent, the same technology, the same marketing condition and the same consumers as other computer companies, so why does it continue to lead innovation?
A typical architectural student like me did not have the recipe of success. But I had a dream of building a pavilion. When I showed some rough sketches of my ideas to my colleagues, they said ‘It’s IMPOSSIBLE!’
The challenge was not only to solve the design issues, but also, more significantly to raise the money. How to finance such a challenging project during the recession? How much would it cost? Who is going to build it? Where to exhibit it? How to find the time to do it; at the time I was completing my RIBA Part II, then I got a full time job and was also doing my RIBA Part III.
I could not answer all of the questions, but I believed, therefore, I started approaching companies as a sales man for the sponsorship. After thousands of attempts, rejections and failures (I have sent out approximately 5000 sponsorship sales pitches via post, emails, phone calls and meetings and spent about £2000 on envelopes and stamps), I have convinced and inspired a range of people and companies to believe what I believe. Therefore, they kindly provided me their products and services: space from developer Quintain, Eco-timber from Kebony, design advice from Ramboll engineers and Evolute geometry consultants; tensile design and manufacturing from TensileFabric, tensile material from Serge Ferrari, technology from Bentley & HP, Lighting from Targetti Poulsen, branding from Uniform, fabrication from AR18, marketing advice from JT consulting and, my honourable team - Kin Ho (Construction Project Manager), Ipek Kasaroglu (Logistic Manager), Hafed Burgess (Technical Manager), Will York (Site Engineer) and many others.
My role in this project was not to solve every single problem; my role was to create an environment ensuring it was win-win for everyone involved and the project was delivered. People worked on KREOD not because they had to, but because they wanted to. They saw it as a great opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable experience. Those involved in the construction included a scientist, a police constable, artists, architects and designers. And interestingly, one third of the construction team was female.
The experience was extraordinary - people followed me because they wanted to challenge the uncertainty and impossibility regardless of money and hard work. They worked through their blood, sweat and tears and made the KREOD successful. Through the process, I have made some great friends and it was priceless!
I was developer, financier, architectural designer, salesman, sponsorship liaison, human resources, project manager, main contractor, builder and end user. It has been a physical and emotional marathon over the last three years –everything beyond design was completely outside my comfort zone. Yet there was no one pushing me to do this, I was motivated by desire to achieve for the sake of achievement.
Last September the KREOD pavilion was launched in front of The 02 Arena where it remains until summer 2013. After leaving North Greenwich, it will pop up athigh-profile locations in London.
I hope the short story of KREOD pavilion could encourage and inspire other people, especially to the unemployed architecture students and architects. If I can do it, you can do it. You don’t know how much you can you do until you stand up and try!
Author: Chun Qing Li, founding director of KREOD
Editor: Eleanor Young, executive editor at RIBA Journal
This article was featured on the RIBA Journal in March 2013