Watch: Semi Permanent x Dropbox 'Game Changers'

Game Changers-1

Our role at Semi Permanent, we believe, is to tell stories. We are obsessed with the people, businesses and technologies that will propel our ways of thinking into a better future; spectacular grenades that explode in a heartbeat and change the world around them instantly.

How those stories are told often changes: you may have been to one our live events, or read a story on this very site. But there are other stories to be told, so we partnered with our friends at Dropbox for a short film series on three people we believe to represent the future of their respective industries. In that respect, each has a story to tell: 
Watch them below. 

“First we listen”

Kelly Sawdon, Ace Hotel

Kelly Sawdon is vice president of the Ace Hotel group, a collection of properties that, for 20 years, have redefined what it means to champion the community around you. 
Ace Hotel don't look after guests, but friends (including you). Their highly-localised approach is bound entirely to the unspoken needs of such friends, while closely integrating with cities whose aesthetic identities match their own sense of warmth and belonging. When you stay at an Ace Hotel (which we hope you do, it's not that far) you form an instant bond with its city and people. It’s not ‘unapologetic’, because it has nothing to apologise for. In their words, its "everything you want and nothing you don't." 

"Everyone thinks we're insane and everyone thinks we're crazy, but this is what we'd do in any other situation, so lets do it.”

Kelly Sawdon, Ace Hotel 

In the 20 years since Ace converted a former flophouse into punk digs in Seattle, USA, Sawdon has led a culture of collaboration at every stage of their design and operation process. From the inner-workings of Atelier Ace (an in-house branding and curatorial studio) to their collaborations with architects like Kengo Kuma for their upcoming Kyoto location and the idiosyncratic curation behind each and every property, it’s this sharing of ideas that keeps their team in sync and makes them one of the most respected hotel groups in the world. In case you were wondering, that’s no accident. 

"I've always been a shoot from the gut kinda person" — Tom Windish, Paradigm Talent Agency 

Tom Windish has a lot to thank his gut for. If it isn’t responsible for some of the biggest artists on the planet right now (think Billie Eilish, Lorde, The XX and Alt J), then it’s certainly responsible for his own career as the booking agent behind them. Since founding The Windish Agency in 2004, he has grown from a former college-bar booking agent to the head of a company with over 80 employees in six cities booking over 20,000 gigs a year. Throw a recent partnership with the globally-renowned Paradigm Talent Agency into the mix, and you have one of the music world’s most influential names driven entirely by a love for music and one hell of a gut instinct.

“I spend time in my office, the signing room, the listening room with new artists, then I bug people until they give them a shot.” 

Tom Windish, Paradigm Talent Agency
The role of booking agent is often misunderstood as an anonymous matchmaker for acts and stages. Instead, Windish finds acts he loves (usually playing to nobody) and helps build their career up from day one. That gut instinct has helped him weather not only the music industry trends that destroyed those less-ambitious, but rather embrace them for success. While agents argue of pennies from streaming services and push their acts into venues beyond their experience, Windish and his team (spanning just about every time zone possible) have pursued a slow-burn approach credited with building sustainable fanbases for the good of the music and those who appreciate it. 

"You ripped the roof off this building, you can't stop in the middle of that."

Loh Lik Peng, Unlisted Collection

Loh Lik Peng is a collector. Sometimes it’s art, other times toys, occasionally furniture. But its his collection of bars and restaurants under The Unlisted Collection that has made him an influential figure in Asia’s competitive hospitality market. Covering roughly 20 restaurants and several hotels around Singapore, London, Shanghai and Sydney, Unlisted’s commitment to business and design in equal measure have left an indelible footprint on the industry and a north star for those in their orbit. 

“It’s always a collaborative process. Sharing our ideas, we brainstorm about what we can do which hasn’t been done before.”

Loh Lik Peng, Unlisted Collection

Unlisted properties thrive in new urban environments with their marriage of business, design and service that is well-planned yet naturally executed. The bars are social, the restaurants are delicious, and each hotel room is meticulously connected to the guest who decides to stay in them. Of course, there have been challenges: The 2009 financial crises hit in the midst of several new property constructions, not to mention the ongoing fear of operating in a high-volume, low margin industry. But Peng’s award-winning global team of chefs, service staff, managers, designers and business partners are empowered to figure it out together, able to withstand the heat no matter the adjustments required. 
Director — Murray Bell
Director of Photography — David Feeney-Mosier
Line Producer — Alex Sanchez
Project Manager — Steph Max
Production — Ways & Means
Executive Producers — Lana Kim & Jett Steiger
Editor — Alex Markman
Colour — Bossi Baker
Music — Thrupence
1st Assistant Camera — Troy Dickerson
Researcher — Christopher Barker
Guest 1 — Stryker Matthews
Guest 2 — Yusuke Tsukamoto
Special thanks to Liz Armistead, Andrew Shen, Michael Jeter, Ace DTLA, The Theatre at Ace Hotel, Atelier Ace, Ryan Bukstein, Aja Pecknold, Sophie Trabuterman, Don Shelford, Sezay Altinok, Jon & Josh Baker, Luke Woods, Shari Knott, Rachael Ford-Davies, Naomi Iland, Michael Dole and Sonia Killmore.