Yeoman at MIPIM 2014

31 March 2014

I first went to Mipim in March 2005. Back then architects were regarded as “bottom feeders”. Nibbling scraps of contacts from the discarded dinners of the great predators above them. It was a large ocean and we were small fish. Or so I thought.

As it turned out, the ocean was relatively small, it was just that the sharks and killer whales towards the top were so bloated that they dominated the horizon, blocking out the sunlight.

The recession put an end to all that excess and since 2009, Mipim has regained its focus and has become a far more useful and enjoyable event. Yes, the yachts are still there, along with the odd member of the serious fraud squad, but in general terms the event is far more down to earth than reports would lead you to believe.

For architects, the opportunities are now significant. Design is more widely appreciated and the ability to create (and sell) ‘vision’ is a skill much in demand.

But don’t go to Mipim in the hope that you will receive a commission from a Russian oligarch to design a new city in the Republic of Tatarstan. Those opportunities, along with accompanying ‘models’, disappeared some time ago. However, what you will find is the unique opportunity to connect with key clients and industry movers & shakers in a relaxed and unprecedented way.

For practices that are looking for opportunities abroad, Mipim provides unparalleled access to the decision makers from across the globe, as country after country exhibits its property credentials and shows off its latest schemes. However, as many of the schemes exhibited seem to have already been designed, one could argue that it is inspiration rather than instruction that we are more likely to receive.

However, it is within the UK Stands that the real opportunities lie. All the major British cities have Stands at Mipim with The London Stand, in particular being the place to be seen. Or rather it has been. My prediction this year is that we may well see a return to opportunities coming from the UK Regions as much as from it’s Capital.

 This year saw Liverpool returning for the first time since 2011, the city’s Mayor teaming up with the chief executive of Manchester City Council who no doubt gave Boris a run for his money. There were also stands from Birmingham and Leeds.

It may sound ironic, but to bag a cool new project in the UK, then the South of France was the best place to be.

Matt Yeoman’s full interview for the Architects Journal.

March 2014.