Friday, November 16, 2007

And what are you trying to say?

Magyar Televizio
Originally uploaded by amsterboy
Last year the Finnish Business and Policy Council EVA published a fascinating report on the changes of corporate architecture. The pamphlet (in English) compared the messages companies are sending with their headquarters built in the beginning of the 20th century and now.

The most powerful comparison in the document was the comparison between the old headquarters of the Helsinki telephone company HPY (now Elisa) and the headquarters of Nokia (new). When HPY’s headquarter was a big, slightly gothic granite monolith communicating ”we are here to stay”, Nokia’s glass complex communicates ”we are dynamic, open and transparent”. The irony of this all was that in the midst of its economic problems Elisa sold its headquarters to a new media company.

Why am I ranting about this? Because I am currently in Budapest – a mixture of romantic old sights and gigantic Tesco hypermarkets. At the same time Budapest is perfect for that getaway weekend of the good old times and for full-blown ”you can buy a washing machine at 3 a.m. if you want” capitalism.

Today I had a meeting at MTV, the Hungarian national television. The organisers of my previous meeting at British Council drew me a map. They said:”It is a massive building, you cannot miss it.”

Well, I could. The building in the picture is MTV headquarters. It is a colossal castle that in my mind looks more like a presidential palace or a parliament than a place where you make TV programmes. I was going around and around the square searching for a media house, passing the castle a few times. Finally asking a local helped. She looked me like I was retarded. I could see what she was thinking:”Are you stupid or what? It is the biggest building on this square right behind you.”

Diversity is not only a question of understanding, colourful hand dolls and living together. It is also realising that something natural to us can be perfectly alien to someone else.

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