In Conversation: Bryan Choo, Founder Of TSL Media Group On Their Newest Creative Playpen

When Bryan Choo first started TheSmartLocal in 2012, he did it from the tight confines of his bedroom. 12 years and hundreds of employees later, the media conglomerate now has 8 unique publications and a presence in 8 countries. However, much of the operations are still run from Singapore in an office space that expanded just a year ago. 

 

Make no mistake though—as shoddy as the exterior might look, inside TSL’s new office space is a collaborative workspace that can also function as a showroom for clients. Here, Bryan sheds more light on the thought process that went into designing their swanky new office and how it helps to maximise collaboration between the various teams within the TSL Media Group.

 

Tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do

I’m Bryan Choo, and I am the founder and CEO of TSL (TheSmartLocal) Media Group. We started out as a travel blog a decade ago - thesmartlocal.com. We now have 8 well-loved publications across 8 cities, and I spend most of my time on the strategic aspects of the business.

How is the new TSL office different from the previous one?

Our level 1 office is meant to be our show office where"It was designed in collaboration with our staff and their needs" we receive clients, run workshops and events etc. It was designed in collaboration with our staff and their needs, so it pays special attention to collaborative and lifestyle spaces. Our previous office on Level 4 was more functional in layout. Our new office is an expansion in the same building, on Level 1 and it has:  "It was designed in collaboration with our staff and their needs"

  • “City Hall” - an ample-sized amphitheatre which seats 50-60 pax 
  • “Kopitiam” - a multifunctional pantry space which can be used for coworking, fitness sessions, networking events and even panel discussions. 
  • Phone booths
  • Quiet room - used for prayers, decompression or as a mother’s room
  • “Steady” and “Pom Pipi” - meeting rooms which can be combined into a large boardroom seating 20 pax. We also plan for the “Steady Pom Pipi” room to be configured for movie screenings and other fun activities!
  • “Lepak” - our recreation room with game consoles and board games which teams can use for cohesions or just kick back and relax. We have also included a full mirror wall in this room for dance sessions.

The new office expansion also gives us opportunities to work with many partners - including Sol Luminaire - so we’re excited for the space to function as a showroom for them.

How has lighting helped to achieve the ambience of the new office?

We were looki"We wanted it to be a warm and professional space which is welcoming for both our clients and our young, creative staff."ng for a modern and classy vibe, and my wife (who did the interior design of the office) has been a fan of Sol Luminaire for a while. We wanted it to be a warm and professional space which is welcoming for both our clients and our young, creative staff.  "We wanted it to be a warm and professional space which is welcoming for both our clients and our young, creative staff."

How do you think the design of offices has changed in the last 5 years?

In the past few years, the way we relate to our offices has changed massively. Part of this has been accelerated by Covid-19 of course, as a new generation of workers adapted to working away from the office. We now issue laptops instead of desktops. And we recognise workers are now increasingly mobile and work beyond their desks easily. 

 

This means they also crave opportunities to interact more freely and casually with one another. So we’ve created many such casual informal spaces in our new office and such flexibility has also been reflected in our company working policies.

How does TSL stay relevant amidst competition and new digital mediums?

I’m always on the lookout for new tech developments and trends, I just spent the last few weekends creating my own AI art and deep fakes. I’m now working on a Steam game as a side project. I believe you have to be very hands-on with the latest in technology to stay relevant. 

What are some of your personal or company goals in the upcoming years?

This year is our tenth year anniversary (2023), which is a pretty big deal for an independent media company in Singapore! My hope for TSL is to thrive as a media tech collective, continue being able to identify opportunities for exciting new projects in the region, and have lots of fun doing so in the process.

 

Luminaires featured: Globula Track 28W, Isa V3, Halo Mini Exposed Twin

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