News - MIPIM 2013
From the ashes, the Phoenix rises…
A bit like a mythological immortal bird that bursts into flames as it dies, only to be reborn from its own ashes, the property industry seems to be experiencing a miraculous rebirth. Now, I don’t want to talk out of turn here, but I’m feeling optimistic… maybe it’s just the thrill of Day 1 of MIPIM week. I don’t know if it’s just a mirage, a phantom, but there seems to be quite a few hushed conversations about actual developments. It would appear that there are deals to be done. There are live opportunities to pull together.
At MIPIM, there are decidedly fewer delegates than the boom years – yes. But this MIPIM is once again buzzing with chatter of real world mega projects – my personal favourite types. Build them big. Build them to last. Build them beautiful.
From the East of the globe through to the West, there is a tangible enthusiasm, an energy, an appetite. We know it’s going to be harder this time. We know we are going to have to work even harder. But, as an industry that dreams in acres and cities, we have grown bored of the miniature and insignificant. Arguably, we are just an industry of megalomaniacs.
There will be a need for greater accountability. Financing & risk management means more cooperation between nations, banks and developers. But we are up for the challenge.
I’m beginning to hear the flapping of glorified wings coming from the ashes, faintly still, but definitely getting louder. From markets we feared were lost to stalwarts that have kept us in bread and butter over the last decade, I am beginning to see a familiar scene. Is it de ja vu or is it a Phoenix? In reality, it’s probably the wonderful sound of the industry’s ideal “ornithological” creature… the crane. And they are beginning to flock again!
Wednesday March 13th:
Back in my chi-chi little office in Mayfair, my team and I spend many hours musing over the idea of "the modern village" or "communities of likeminded people". It's very poetic. We natter endlessly about the sense of displacement people feel in an increasingly technological world that seems to sometimes create more social barriers than really bring people together in any meaningful way. I find myself staring wistfully out the window, leaning back gently in my Herman Miller Aeron, rocking ever so slightly, contemplating. Well, I think it’s contemplating. It could just be intoxication from the myriad of scented candles burning away at my brain. Death by asphyxiation a la Diptique.
Back on the Croisette, I find myself watching the world pass by as I perch on the terrace of the London stand. And I realise, that despite the ample Blackberries, laptops, iPads, apps, gadgets, gizmos, satellites and networks, everyone here is having a real conversation with another real human being. They are sitting across a table, leaning against a railing, beer or champers in hand (obv!) and talking. Ah me! The nostalgic scene nearly brings a tear to my eye.
The beauty of MIPIM is not the deals, it's not the yachts or the champagne or the parties - although those are all very lovely, and I am most grateful for the myriad of invitations - but it's this. The relationships. The friendships. The reason I love the property industry is because it is, in itself a village of likeminded people. A community of very sociable individuals. Sometimes it can feel like an awfully small village - there is gossip, intrigue, occasional espionage, decadence, mayhem, wheeling, dealing. Oh this is good stuff. It would be a marvellous reality TV show!
People here are smart, generous, communicative, passionate, creative and like building stuff. Every year, MIPIM feels like a bit of a celebration of our tribe's achievements and an opportunity to discuss our latest wild and wonderful dream for some exotic location amongst people who share your visions, your enthusiasm, your wonderland. Today I saw some spectacular worlds. From the future of Kazakstan to the technology emerging from Pipers and from the new landscape of Turkey to the growth of Germany. Oh my! I get excited about it all.
MIPIM always instils a little bit of pride in me about our little community of grand thinkers. Well, that is until I saw one particular unnamed agent fall over his own feet in a drunken stupor at midday. Ah well. I guess every village has at least one idiot!
Thursday March 14th:
AM: Today is about lunch. Long lunches. 4 hour lunches in the sunshine, with chilled Cote de Provence rose to wash down the seabass and scallops. The water laps the sand. The sound of clinking cutlery and industry gossip washes away my hangover. The golden light that is only found in this part of the world fills my eyes and my heart.
Today is a beautiful new day. It is the final day of MIPIMfest. There is a sense of togetherness. Shared stories from the Carlton last night. Shared conversations and antics at the Martinez. Did anyone else see the guy get hit by a car at Café Roma yesterday? Today is a day for marinating in each other’s company and animatedly reliving the stories of the week. So make sure you are in good company today. Pull up a chair and relax in the comfortable chatter of colleagues and friends. Because for the next few weeks there will be a frenzy of follow up meetings, eager discussions back at base and busy PA’s syncing diaries to get that meeting in. But today, breath in the fresh air, drink the last of the MIPIM champagne and simply have a laugh
Tomorrow, the residents of Cannes will resume ownership of their town, bidding us all au revoir.
PM: Here Come the Girls!
It's rare that I am lost for words. But it's happened. That's probably not the best opener for my article, but it’s true. For once, I have attended MIPIM and been pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of women in attendance. Women in authority. Women with voice and presence. Not the brainless stand dollies, found clad in lycra and draped across some phallic building model that is still shockingly and inappropriately allowed in particular sections of MIPIM. Quite frankly, if the car industry has realised that half naked girls fornicating with a Yaris repulses 50% of the population and devalues their product, perhaps it's time the property industry did as well. Although there is a marked improvement in this area on past years’ stands.
I have the pleasure of working with and knowing many of the wonderful women in our industry, and they are some of the brightest and most dedicated property brains around. The London property market is showing itself to be very female positive. From Kathrin Hersel at Almacantar to Emma Crawford at CBRE, Colette O'Shea at Land Securities to Roseanna Jaggard at Savills to Carlin Fier at Brookfield, these women rock! Not only are they sensational at their jobs, but my word! they make it look good too. MIPIM this year was like a beautiful fashionista social set straight out of the pages of Tatler. Elegant, gorgeous, smouldering and smart.
Today I hosted the YOO lunch at Miramar Beach and I was surrounded by some of these Vixens of Industry. You could hear the girlie giggles from the other end of the Croisette, and I have literally never seen so much hair twirling in my life, but misinterpret any of that as inexperience, stupidity and you do so at your own peril. These girls mean business, and if you want to work with them - and trust me - you do, I would highly recommend complimenting them on their brains before their beauty.
It’s been a pleasure sharing this tour with you lot this year. See you again next year!