A ban on chewing gum once made Singapore the topic of every discussion. A lesser known fact is the existence of a platform in the spic-and-span tropical country that serves as inspiration for architects and designers across Asia: the Hawa Experience Center.
From the window of the Hawa Experience Center, Stefano Mattioli, Head of Hawa Sliding Solutions Asia and Pacific, looks out over skyscrapers and parks resembling jungles – two elements that shape the face of Singapore. The city state has invested a great deal to bring together high density, quality of life and sustainability. It's a necessary pursuit, due to rapid population growth in the face of limited available land.
“We’re here at the ideal place to present our sliding solutions in Asia,” says Stefano Mattioli, who has lived in Asia for over 15 years.
« Urbanization is proceeding at a blinding pace. In districts like those in Singapore, Japan and Bangkok, the price per square meter ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 euros and more. So our sliding solutions are welcome aids to promote more efficient use of space. »
In contrast to Europe, Asia does not have a tradition of single family houses with a garden. Instead, high rises with small units predominate. Since opening its doors in September 2017, the Hawa Experience Center has developed into an inspiring platform for architects and designers. With its robust economy, Singapore is known as the gateway to Asia. At the same time, it's an anomaly on the continent. “Singapore is organized to perfection. And the business world operates according to Anglo-Saxon customs. This makes it easy to close business deals,” says Mattioli: “The other countries have a very specific culture with ancient business customs. If you're not familiar with the local customs, you’ll quickly put your foot in your mouth – so to speak.”
According to Mattioli, entry thresholds to markets of advanced high-tech countries like Japan and Korea remain high. Their ambitious standards are often difficult for foreign competitors to meet. “What’s more, in many regions there's an acute lack of trained craftsmen. A system that aims to establish itself as a hardware store favourite therefore has to make installation as easy and intuitive as possible.” The sliding solutions from Hawa Sliding Solutions meet these requirements. But what happens when there’s an unmet desire in room planning? “Flexibility is a must. We offer on-site technical support. And we can individually adapt our solutions,” explains Mattioli: “That’s important because we can’t expect architects to adopt European design.” On the contrary, the sliding solutions are intended to empower architects in expressing their creativity.
Hawa Sliding Solutions generates most of its sales in the Asia-Pacific region from major building projects. What are the areas in which sliding solutions are gradually gaining a foothold? Upscale hotels, for one, as Mattioli observes: “Five-star hotels have to convey a feeling of luxury and opulence within a small space.” But the microliving and co-living trends – a type of modern apartment sharing – also play right into the hands of Hawa Sliding Solutions. At the same time, Mattioli sees a challenge. “Many countries have rapidly ageing populations. We must develop solutions that remain comfortable to operate, even as our strength begins to wane.” That's why in coming years Hawa Sliding Solutions will be working more intensively with technologies that support reduced-strength movements. Mattioli gestures across the Singapore skyline at the numerous construction sites. There's still a lot to do, even in the country with the “world's best infrastructure.”