A new version of water torture
Interior design is an art that this old dog does not claim to know a lot about. But I’ve been to enough banks to know just how hard each and every one tries to differentiate itself from the competition.
Goldman Sachs, for example, is famous for its old school design, all wooden furniture and posh carpets. Some of the Chinese banks are notable for having the weirdest contraptions in places you would never imagine, all in the name of good old feng shui.
But none of them trumps the bank I visited a couple of weeks ago when I was in the dark side of Hong Kong, catching up with an old mate of mine whom I knew way back in London. It turned out that all the meeting rooms in the bank were surrounded by a moat — albeit a highly stylised one — that was at least one foot deep and filled with water.
The reason for this medieval-castle-like feature, I was told, was because no office space in Asia is complete without a water feature. It wasn't that the bank wanted to keep its enemies away.
Such art is not without its risk, however, as I was reminded when I saw a woman heading into the room opposite mine. Her three-inch heels clearly did not help, but she somehow managed to lose her footing and fall into the moat.
As if getting wet was not bad enough, the poor woman could hardly walk afterwards having twisted her ankle in the mishap. Well that’s one way to stop your clients going to a competitor.