02 December 2019

Simon Bee, Global Design Director, recently celebrated 30 years with Benoy

Simon Bee, Global Design Director, recently celebrated 30 years with Benoy.

He is now based in Singapore following stints in other global studios. We have so many great people in the business and it is terrific to have the chance to move around and camp in different studios. I just finished 5 years in Hong Kong, which was a brilliant experience and the Singapore team have made me very welcome. I am now on my 5th Benoy Studio!” said Simon.

Despite holding a position on Benoy’s board representing Design, Simon remains a hands-on’ architect at heart. There’s nothing quite like the buzz of getting a new brief from a Client – a new puzzle to solve – you can never lose that innate curiosity and enthusiasm – it’s quite infectious among really creative people. That what if’ moment – it’s really special!”

When asked about his career at Benoy so far, Simon’s answer is compelling – if someone said here is a job opportunity where every day will bring new and amazing challenges, where you will meet incredible people and travel to astonishing places to solve thrilling problems’, you would want some of that, wouldn’t you?”

It also helps to have a strong financial base in the firm under Graham and Tom (Cartledge). Their management style really allows the designers to focus on what they are best at.”

Over these 30 years Benoy has undergone a massive transformation into the international design group it is today. People have to evolve too,” says Simon, and I think this is a good message for our staff – you have to evolve to stay relevant. My own passion for urban design came out of a collaboration we did with Sir Terry Farrell years ago at a time when most of our work was in shopping. That opened a whole new world of urban thinking for me.” 

From that time Simon set up urban design teams within Benoy that work with a core civic attitude which prevails today.

The whole notion of putting together a cocktail of urban design and commercial solutions to make great city places seems very natural to us, and rather fun. We collaborate a lot and it’s good to bring to the table our brand of commercial placemaking – it’s what makes places viable and sustainable.”

Over the years, I’ve had some great conversations with collaborating designers and architects I really respect – Santiago Calatrava, Moshe Safdie and Chris Wilkinson to name a few – there’s always something new to learn.”

Simon has witnessed the opening of all of the flagship projects that Benoy has been associated with from Bluewater and Westfield London in UK, Ferrari World and the Beach in UAE, right up to date with IconSiam in Bangkok and Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore. There are some game-changers in the portfolio, I have to say, and they are always the result of clever and committed teams working together.”

So what’s next for Mr Bee in Singapore?

I think that the really rewarding part is that from here I’m still regularly connecting with other studios and inputting into solutions globally. We are growing the studio here so there is a constant energy around new colleagues, clients and projects. Plus it’s good to be living in a city I really admire. – The attitude to smart’, new, and different solutions in Singapore is extraordinary, and I can’t think of a city I would rather be in right now.”

And Simon’s most bizarre moment at Benoy?

Well it has to be back in the early days of the Battersea Power Station project – I climbed the chimneys on the Power Station with the steeplejacks when it was still derelict. Probably a bit foolhardy, but the view was remarkable!”

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Simon Bee