Lessons, Highlights & Ice Cream with Stephen Choi

As Stephen Choi moves on from LFIA and his most recent role as Executive Director, Projects, we asked him to reflect on his many years of leadership and action.

Stephen is woven into the very heart of the organisation and has been instrumental to its success. Lucky for us, he is not going too far and will still be involved in projects and the delivery of Living Future Accreditation later in 2020.

 

What does a Living Future look like to you in 3 words?

Desirable and necessary

 

What have been your biggest lessons learnt at LFIA?

That everyone wants better, but it's hard to imagine something that hasn't been.

 

What are you most proud of?

No one specific thing, but mainly, having an idea and then actually delivering on it. Ideas are perfect until we try and make them real. I'm proud of many imperfect things!

 

What were some pivotal moments over the years?

When I became involved in the LFIA, Australia had no certified projects, no socially-minded organisations with a JUST Label, no healthy products with a Declare Label, no local representation of the Biophilic Design Initiative, and no-one doing radically different retail. That's all changed.

 

What is a piece of advice you were given that serves you well?

"Roll with the punches." Now I don't necessarily love sports references, but I've learnt that when you try to encourage fundamental changes at an industry scale, there are a surprisingly high number of people who respond to feeling threatened in the most unexpected ways.

 

Can you share a story on your highlight reel?

Living Future, 2018, Portland. Photographs from that event are thankfully not widely circulated, but I recall at one point there was an Abominable Snowman and Darth Vader playing the bagpipes whilst riding a unicycle in an illegal timber warehouse. That's a real Living Future after-party.

 

Why do you like Björk so much?

Oh. Where to begin?

Apart from being the best female artist of all time, she insists that she is “actually quite ordinary”. She is obsessed with the natural world and a passionate environmental activist (for her album Biophilia, she even designed instruments to create new sounds). Her work is a constant and experimental exploration of herself as an artist and a person, technology, and everything around her. Her childlike wonder and multi-faceted expression is inspiring.

 

If you could only eat one flavour of icecream ever again what would it be?

That's an easy question! Cremino Rivareno, only from Surry Hills, Sydney. Thank me later.

 

In a 2015 website blog post, when asked what your hopes were for the industry, you said, "That we are brave enough to adopt systemic change, and that we are true to ourselves, remembering the reasons we first became architects, engineers, activators of positive change…". Five years later has that hope changed? Has the industry been brave?  

The hope has stayed the same, though perhaps the intent is more focused than before. Certain individuals and organisations in the industry have been brave. These people know who they are, and so does the rest of the industry actually!

 

Lastly, what’s next for you?  

I will focus on projects - built environment and otherwise. I have a novel to complete and an album to release.

Living Future 2018
Living Future Symposium 2019
Burwood Brickworks 2019
Brickworks Design Competition Exhibit 2016
Launch of Stage 1 of The Paddock eco village