Interior designer believes industry should have boundless creativity and measurable professionalism Suzanne Chong, associate for interior design at Hassell, is well attuned to the service nature of the profession and is also good at balancing different views As a little girl, I recognised my creative talent in drawing, even though I didn't really like drawing very much then. However, I sought pleasure in creating advertising slogans occasionally. I had planned to study advertising design, but failing the entry examination made me change my mind, so I took a higher diploma course in interior design at Lee Wai Lee Technical Institute instead. I have been working as an interior designer for almost 14 years since my graduation in 1993. Before Hassell, I worked for Kenneth Ko Company. Now, I have worked for Hassell for eight years. My major role involves design work, quality control, job delegation and client contact. I also need to lead two hospitality teams, one in Hong Kong and the other in Shenzhen, with a total of 12 members. I mostly handle hospitality projects such as hotels, clubhouses, show flats and private villas. Right now I am working on a five-star hotel project in Chongqing. The project involved professionals from different disciplines. It is a challenging project because it is the first one in which we have worked with another mainland design company. On a typical day in the office, I need to arrange regular internal meetings with my design teams to maintain quality and review the time schedule to ensure the projects on hand are on the right track. A milestone of my career as an interior designer was my involvement in the Radisson Hotel project in Shanghai two years ago. It was the first hospitality project that I worked on and we won many prizes, including the Contemporary Chinese Style Art Hotel award. It was a memorable experience. Now, I still find that project challenging. An interior designer's work is much more complicated than drafting design layouts. We need to develop a concept from scrappy ideas and then present solutions to clients in order to convince them to accept our ideas. To me, the most challenging part of my job is to find ways to mobilise people from different cultures and backgrounds, and in different positions to work together and get the job done well. As our company has overseas offices, and colleagues may come from different countries, I need to balance their views and find ways to reach a compromise so that everyone is happy. A good designer must be open-minded and self-motivated. Many designers insist on following their own views and ignore the needs of the client. I think a designer should keep an open mind and always be prepared to acquire design knowledge in different aspects because 'design is service'. Competition for employment in the industry is getting keener in Hong Kong and on the mainland, with the financial crisis making the job market tougher. We must continue to try to improve our professionalism and should never be complacent. I think standards and design procedures that are well spelt out should be in place to raise the bar of the profession. Creativity can be unlimited but professionalism should be measurable according to objective standards.