Turning buildings into a canvas for his creativity

Mr Adrian Goh's firm Hexogon Solution did projects at the Singapore Grand Prix and Sunday's Marina Bay Countdown.
Mr Adrian Goh's firm Hexogon Solution did projects at the Singapore Grand Prix and Sunday's Marina Bay Countdown.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Hexogon boss has gone from dressing window displays to projecting visual spectacles

When Mr Adrian Goh started his window display and exhibition company Mozz Creation in 1997, the first project was from gift retailer Cards n Such to dress a window display with a $200 budget.

But he yearned for a bigger "stage" for his creative designs.

Two decades later, Mr Goh, now 41, has got his wish.

His company, renamed Hexogon Solution in 2008, is now a leader in the more dynamic field of projection mapping. This involves using videos, images and animation to create visual spectacles projected onto structural surfaces, such as a building's facade.

Hexogon has clinched big projects here, such as the National Day Parade, the Singapore Grand Prix and Sunday's Marina Bay Countdown which had The Fullerton Hotel Singapore awash in dancing lights.

The company set a Guinness World Record at the 2015 SEA Games for producing the greatest light output on a single canvas, by using 160 digital projectors at the opening ceremony at the National Stadium.

Mr Goh recalled the early days: "In window displays, I'm enclosed by a glass panel and partition panels."

But the fan of The Phantom Of The Opera - he has watched it live at least 20 times - was interested in conjuring up magic on a bigger scale. He said of the musical: "I was fascinated with the transformation, the ability to create something in a confined stage setting."

BEING PREPARED

I'm not conservative, but I'm very careful. If you get the chance to do what you want but fail a client, it's the end of the story for you.

MR ADRIAN GOH

His company moved on to work on exhibitions and launches.

"I wanted to have big stuff, I wanted things to fly or be hoisted... I remember a launch we did with Breitling (watches). We had a flying fox (set-up) coming down from Ngee Ann City with fireworks and a life-size jet," he said.

Even then, Mr Goh still felt like he "wanted something bigger".

That something turned out to be projection mapping, which Hexogon got into in 2010.

"When I saw projection mapping, I was wowed. I liked what I saw. You can do optical illusions, like making a building 'shake' or have things pop out. That caught my attention," said Mr Goh, who is Hexogon's group managing director.

Various buildings and structures - including the Sentosa Merlion and the ArtScience Museum - have become the canvas on which Hexogon, which has 40 staff, has projected its creativity on.

The company has expanded regionally, with offices in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

It was also invited by the New Taipei City Government to do 3D projection mapping on the New Taipei City Hall, for the city's 2016 Christmas celebrations.

Hexogon's success transformed the fortunes of Mr Goh, who once dropped out of his visual merchandising course at Lasalle International Fashion School as he could not afford the fees.

His family was not well-to-do, so it was tough to pay the monthly $1,000 fee. But a lecturer, Mr Bemas Chan, spoke to the school's principal to arrange a scheme in which Mr Goh would pay half the fees and work part-time for the school. As a technician in the school's visual design department workshop, he cleaned the area and kept the tools in order.

Mr Chan, 60, now a freelance multi-disciplinary designer and artist, said: "Adrian was always quick at solving design problems and getting the assignments done well on time. He listened to my critiques and always challenged himself in every given task."

Mr Goh scored his first gig through an internship, doing window displays for Italian clothing line Loro Piana, which hired him for a few months after he graduated.

In 1997, he started Mozz Creation, slowly building up his clientele to include FJ Benjamin and the Swatch Group.

In 2012, Mr Goh started doing video mapping for a few customers before taking on bigger projects, such as i Light Marina Bay festival and the National Day Parade.

He is married to Ms Maria Kong, who is 41 and Hexogon's marketing director. They have two daughters, seven-year-old Ashley and four-year-old Ashlyn, and a newborn son, Ashton.

Despite his heavy workload, Mr Goh sets aside two hours a day for his children. When in Singapore, he takes Ashley to school at 6am every day, even if he has had a late night and hit the sack at 4am.

"My elder daughter is very involved in my work. Before the first day of a show, she will come and watch it. She even draws storyboards and cartoons.

"I don't want to disappoint her, so I infuse a bit (of her work) into the shows," he said.

Projection mapping combines Mr Goh's fascination with the arts and technology, also seen by his love for the Marvel Comics superhero Iron Man. In Hexogon's office at CT Hub 2 in Lavender Street, some 50 Iron Man replica figurines adorn an entire wall display.

Mr Goh said of building his business: "It's all about trying. I'm not conservative, but I'm very careful.

"If you get the chance to do what you want but fail a client, it's the end of the story for you."

He added: "So I'll do a lot of research and testing before I'm ready. Get the opportunity and give it your best shot."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'Turning buildings into a canvas for his creativity'. Print Edition | Subscribe