"Singapore is much more functional; they are much more concerned about cost than Thailand. The designer doesn't have such a strong role in the market because there are project managers," said Mr Whittaker, who has worked in many markets and whose company has offices in several Asian centres.

NEW LOOK: Bumrungrad Hospital’s outpatient building.

"Here in Thailand we tend to run the project, but in other, more mature markets, the project manager is often between you and the client - so to push your design you don't quite have that contact with the client. The same is true in Hong Kong.

"But what I have found is that China is very much like Thailand, and it's great because you get to work directly with the client. Also in China, as in Thailand, when you're working on a project - like a hotel - you're usually working for the real owner or the family."

Mr Whittaker said that India, too, is a bit like Thailand in that project owners often deal directly with the designer.

"We are doing a very exciting project in Calcutta; the owner is really passionate about the project," said Mr Whittaker. "I've also been doing some hospital work in India, and again it's directly with the owners, and they are willing to spend money. They love design - it's exciting and they want to be involved."