Finally coming out of the pandemic there is a tangible pent-up energy at large. People in London seem to be just ‘so over’ lockdowns and simply want to get on with things after all of those false dawns.
This bursting need to move-on and be part of our wider community again is one of the key drivers for all us at Conran and Partners wanting to re-engage with domestic and international events and conferences, whether we are on the podium or not, without further delay.
This year Vic Whenray and I took the train down to MIPIM which, incidentally, is highly recommended not just from a carbon footprint perspective, but also, more selfishly, to have a full day there and back without the possibility of the dreaded Teams or Zoom calls! Quite simply, as a practice that works with many international collaborators and clients, we are keen to get a feel of the sentiment outside of our London COVID-bubble, and hopefully find some good news above the relentless, and seemingly increasing, grimness of the news.
Frankly, MIPIM this year exceeded all our expectations. The numbers of attendees was more manageable, the tone was more grown up, and the oligarch yachts were all out of French territorial waters. But most interestingly despite the horror of what is currently happening in our continent, and the genuine outpouring of sympathy for the Ukrainians from everyone I spoke to, there seemed to be a determination to be positive or even optimistic for the future. Only time will tell whether this is case of the band continuing to play as the ship goes down, or whether we have all become so much more resilient because we have had to be?
It was particularly striking how confident the French, Dutch, German and Danish stands were, but how forlorn the London stand was by comparison. The London stand has long been one of the key meeting points at MIPIM, but sadly this year the heart seems to have left it along with the NLA’s model. Surely as one of the great creative and entrepreneurial world capitals, London should do better than this, unless it really does want to play the narrative that it is in full retreat?
More encouragingly, there was a good vibe the UK stand with some unsurprisingly good contributions from the likes of Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash and Julian Lipscombe of Bennett Associates; but also a very engaging discussion from the political leaders from Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, who are pooling their ideas and resources for the greater good – focussed around the related challenges of housing and the environment. After years of division that only seemed to have got more confrontational, this less self-centred, collaborative approach surely has to be the way forward, and thank goodness Vic and I and many others were able to be there to hear it in person.
The only way is up?