So, I know what you’re thinking, here we go, a woman talking about the gender imbalance and ‘boys club’ culture that comes with the sea of suits that make up MIPIM. Don’t worry, this will be no such rant, in all honesty I was just smug at not having to queue for the restrooms for once!
Jokes aside, MIPIM was an exciting haze of conversation, sun, rosé and business – the perfect cocktail for stimulating the many overworked minds of the architecture and property industry.
From the moment I stepped off the aircraft, my first observation was the long line of men that were queuing in immigration. Suit, suit, suit, suit, suit, suit, skirt, suit, suit, suit… and so on. But again, not a rant about that, however it was a good illustration of what was to come.
As a MIPIM novice (and youngest of the group) I had only my colleagues’ experiences to go on. It was an interesting juxtaposition being thrown into an environment where I was conversing with directors and visionaries of leading companies that as an architectural student I had studied and revered.
The festival itself was much like a base for us to convene and arrange meetings with those we irregularly see, it was the private events and chance meetings in the many watering holes that surrounded the centre that was where the magic happened. As the team had done last year and many years before, we returned to the quintessential Price and Myers party, where you would find many of the seasoned MIPIM veterans. Ending the day watching sunset at HTA’s beach party was definitely something to remember.
As a female, MIPIM 2019 exceeded my expectations as it was not exclusively the ‘old boys club’ that it was perceived. Perhaps it’s the heightened awareness but it seemed that the next generation of delegates, myself included, were representing their respective practices. And many more firms were making the effort to send women out. Notably, Grimshaw sent a full team of women out to Cannes including principal architects Angela Dapper, Annelie Kvick Thompson, managing partner Kirsten Lees and business-development manager Katie Murphy.
Though hesitant prior to my arrival that both my age and gender might work against me, I found quite the opposite. If anything, it helped welcome me into the circles of suits. In reverse, it seemed men were trying to get into events such as the Women in Property cocktails at New York New York, which was a brilliant platform to promote women in construction.
Soaking up as much as I could in the festival itself, I noticed the way technology has advanced from what I had been taught in architectural education. For one, Vu.city demonstrated their ability to create the largest and most accurate truly interactive digital city model of London. Using a simple “insert address here” I was able to see how the skyline would evolve from my window over the next 10 years.
Other things that stood out at the festival this year include the Belfast stand which had a much bigger presence than before and even had their own app. One other memorable stand was the Canary Wharf Group that had 4-5 beautiful models of upcoming developments, including one which was designed by Herzog de Meuron.
The sun was kind to us for the entire trip, taking in all the vitamin D the delegates spilled out into the streets of every corner. After 3 full-on days of socialising, parties and information overload I was almost glad it was coming to an end. We were all set to fly out on Thursday and it was unfortunate we couldn’t make the Tom Bloxham party this year (perhaps 2020!?)
All in all, it was an amazing first experience at MIPIM and I would recommend any woman to attend.