The moment when blueprint becomes reality never fails to thrill Ken Ng Chit-hang, associate of Belt Collins International (HK) THE MOST ENJOYABLE part of my job is seeing my designs come alive. As a student I would imagine what my designs might look like in real life. Now, I can walk in the finished product and see and feel what's good and bad about it. It takes about two years to see a project of mine all come together, but it is worth the wait. I have been working with this company for seven years, with a year off in the middle to study for my professional practice examination. I am now an associate, which means I generally get my own projects to design and a team to help me. I assign work to my colleagues and liaise with the client and all the professionals involved. These range from engineers, architects and contractors to interior designers, project managers and lighting designers. I inspect the site to make sure the quality of materials and the workmanship is up to scratch. We always tell the client to try to include site inspections in their contracts with us. This makes a big difference to the results. I get ideas for my designs from research. I look out for similar projects that have been built, read books and see what the competition is doing. I am also inspired by what I see in my daily life and on my travels overseas. I look at how other people use their space and try to improve on their ideas of environment. You find people who aren't designers coming up with great ideas for making space usable, habitable and playful. The big projects are usually handled by my boss. I act as middleman and translate his instructions for the junior designers to follow. My boss does the first draft and we develop the design based on that. The biggest challenge is dealing with many different types of people. I am a channel of communication between clients, contractors, colleagues and consultants. Each person involved in a development has his or her corner to fight for. It is often a problem to convince the client to allocate sufficient money for landscape design in a project. Of course, we may also have battles relating to the design. Often, client and designer have a totally different vision. I am constantly trying to find solutions that serve both the client and the designer. Good communication skills are crucial in a job like this. Besides smoothing out any differences, you have to be able to talk about your design with people who aren't designers, who don't understand the language or the drawings, and who have no technical knowledge. You also have to be able to communicate your client's wishes back to your colleagues. Outside the office, I do some teaching at the University of Hong Kong and some research work at the Hong Kong Polytechnic. I would like to get more involved in these areas and work as a consultant part-time.