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Architects of the Workplace

M Moser Associates are experts in the world of designing top-class offices, reports Chamber staff writer Anthony Cheng

“We are architects of the workplace,” said Moira Moser, Chairman and Founder of M Moser Associates.

The global architecture firm provides interior design services and advice on workplace matters from sustainability to employee wellness. Since its establishment in 1981, it has been designing original workplaces that are not just attractive and comfortable places to work, but also appropriate to the clients’ needs.

“We design, engineer and deliver an innovative environment that supports the progressive workplace culture that more people are looking for nowadays,” said Moser.

“Back in the old days, a typical office would look like cubicle after cubicle, where people worked quite independently,” she said. “But things are different in the 21st century. The nature of work in corporates has changed rapidly, thanks to technology.”

The business world today requires more creativity from its workers, while new technology is enabling communication and collaboration among people based in different locations.

“We create workplace environments for our clients that can help them better achieve their business goals, and most importantly, retain creative people,” said Moser. “Corporates used to look at the workplace in terms of the rent and the number of people they can fit in the space. But now they look at how they can create a workplace that can attract and retain innovative thinkers.”

This includes thinking of everything right down to the small details, including the type of air circulation, temperature and even lighting, to enable staff to do their best while enjoying their work. “Many of our clients have been very appreciative, and think that our touch on sustainability and wellness is an added attraction to bring good people into the office.”

Growing in the industry

Design has been a part of Moser’s life since she was a child, and she decided to become an architect when she was nine years old.

“As a little girl, I would flip through my mother’s magazines,” she said. “There was one called Better Homes and Gardens, in which I saw photographs of beautiful houses that came along with floor plans. I learned all the details through those floor plans and began to draw my own.”

Good design is built on a foundation of inspiration and, to Moser, inspiration is everywhere. “I do not focus on just one area,” she said. “I am interested in how society changes. I am also interested in art, music, astronomy and all kinds of different things – which is where I got my bits and pieces of ideas from.”

Perhaps surprisingly, a recent source of inspiration has been the rise of artificial intelligence. “Many people are afraid that AI will take away their jobs, but it is just taking away the simple things,” she said. “We will always need room for creative thinking.”

Moser is a native Californian. However, she decided to launch her business here in Hong Kong. “When I came here in the late ‘70s, Hong Kong was a boom town,” she explained. “Many U.S. companies wanted to open office facilities here in Hong Kong, so that they could push forward their business in China. I was here as an American architect, and so I knew what they needed.”

Moser initially began the business with only three people. Today, it has more than 20 offices all around the world. She explained that the decision to open an office in a new location is driven not because of the opportunities, but by people. “We always go with good people,” she said. To demonstrate, she explained how the company made the decision to open its new office in Melbourne.

“This was led by a woman who has worked with us for more than 20 years. She studied in Australia and knows the continent very well. Later, she said she wanted to develop our capabilities there and we said, ‘why not?’ This is the way we have grown in many situations.”

Leading a big company is not an easy job. But perhaps what is more challenging is to maintain an open mindset of the people, so that they keep up with the fast-moving trends in the industry and in working styles.

“It is always hard to change the way people think, especially those who have been very successful by using a certain approach that worked very well in the past,” said Moser.

On the other hand, helping employees to develop their skills is one of the joys of the job. “Seeing how our own people grow is always the nicest experience,” she added. “We have so many people with us, who have grown in ability and their outlook on life.”

The services that the firm provides have also become more sophisticated and complex over the years. “When we first started, things were fairly simple and straightforward,” said Moser. “Then as time went on we added engineering, IT infrastructure, workplace strategy and elements of suitability and wellness to our designs.”

M Moser Associates also do everything in 3D. “Our ability to develop ideas in three dimensions allows us to visualize everything with our clients clearly to develop the design with them.”

Despite having a tremendous portfolio of work and an impressive client list including many global companies, Moser does not want to highlight any particular achievement to date.

“The one project that I am most proud of will always be the next one,” she said, “because we keep moving forward.”

New opportunities

Moser is among those who see great opportunities emerging across the border. “The Greater Bay Area is so important to our industry,” she said. “Many Mainland clients are becoming more international and open to change, because they are looking for young creative people within the country and around the globe. They need workplace environments that will attract these people.”

Moser expects to see more development within the industry, as the way people and companies work continues to evolve. “We do not know what the nature of work will be like in the future,” she said. “However, with the advancement of technology that brings in new materials and capability, and also as the clients’ needs continue to progress, we will certainly come up with new solutions.”

Design has always been an industry interesting to members of the younger generation. Her advice is: think initially about the people who will be using your design, and always keep an open mind.

“After all,” said Moser, “there is no single answer in the world of design and architecture.”

 

Company : M Moser Associates Ltd

HKGCC Membership No.: HKM0013

Established: 1981

Website: https://www.mmoser.com/en/

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