Chinese developers recently have been buying land in downtown Los Angeles with plans for large real estate developments.
Both Shanghai Greenland Group and Oceanwide Real Estate Group plan mixed-use hotel projects that will need support services, such as graphic design and branding. Hence the move by Hong Kong firm Victor Arzate Design International, or Vadi, to open an office in Whittier this month.
Vadi’s specialty is designing everything from restaurant menus to staff uniforms for luxury hotels in Asia such as clients Fairmont Hotel in Nanjing, China, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Shanghai.
Adam Arzate, chief executive of Vadi, said the more he heard of development projects going up in Los Angeles, the more he found the need to establish a presence here.
“There’s an influx of Chinese capital coming into downtown,” he said. “And here we are. We’re sitting in Hong Kong and I have projects all over China and thought wouldn’t that be a beautiful match if we can open an office in L.A.”
Arzate said the company is able to offer what he believes other local design firms might not have: international exposure and a better understanding of the nuances of Chinese business that he’s learned from experience.
For example, when he started working with Chinese businessmen, he did not realize that the appropriate way to accept a business card is with two hands and to study it carefully before putting it in your pocket.
“In America, you introduce yourself. You shake hands and hand a business card and either put it on the desk or slip it into your pocket,” said Arzate. “In China, I didn’t realize that’s a huge no-no. There’s a certain formality in terms of the way introductions are made.”
Lars Perner, assistant professor of clinical marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business, said Vadi’s L.A. office might have an advantage thanks to that kind of experience.
“I think there could be an edge,” said Perner. “This is somebody who might be more trusted.”
Vadi was founded in 1994 by Arzate’s father, Victor. He was working for Santa Monica interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates and moved to Hong Kong in 1991 to serve as the company’s graphics director there. He then formed his own firm in Hong Kong, Vadi.
The company now has a staff of 18. Its office in Los Angeles has five employees.
Vadi is working on 23 projects and recently completed the branding of new resort hotel Kandolhu Island in the Maldives; InterContinental Hotel & Resort in Sanya, China; and Conrad Hotel in Beijing.
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