Interview with Matteo Thun : design elements


Interview with Matteo Thun

categories Architecture, Designer, Interviews    

“Architecture means designing the soul of the place.”

Matteo Thun

photo credit: ©Lotti

Some days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Matteo Thun. The Austrian architect has won ADI Compasso d Oro Award for design excellence three times and has received the Wallpaper* Design Award 2010. He designs incredible things of all sizes – from espresso cups to airport hotels. His Side Hotel in Hamburg was awarded Hotel of the Year and his Radisson SAS Frankfurt was chosen as the best hotel opened in the year in the Worldwide Hospitality Awards. Matteo Thun’s favorite artists are Pollock, Caravaggio and de Kooning. His motto: Carpe diem.

Hugo Boss Industries Strategic Business Unit Switzerland, photo credit: © Klaus Frahm

How can you characterize your style?

I am not a designer, I am an architect working on both large-scale and small-scale projects.

Is there something that connects all your projects?

I consider myself as a “lifecycle manager” and therefore the aesthetic durability and the sustainability should be given in every project.

What was the moment when you knew you would be an architect?

I was lucky to be able to work together with the architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, first as unpaid student, then as partner. He belongs to the last generation of designers, who are able and had the possibility to design with an holistic approach. For me Sottsass, but also Achille Castiglioni, are real architects. They had a special curiosity in approaching their work and wanted to know what you can do with granite and with schist, what the difference is between larch and beech and the difference between a Murano blown glass and one from Bohemia. This is the logic and the approach an architect learns. He is daily confronted with a wide range of problems and has to find new solutions.

Hugo Boss Concept Store, New York, photo credit: ©Paul Warchol

How did you decide to open your own firm?

Memphis was the courage to break the rules, to question conventions, to design differently – Memphis meant new extremes of language as the alternative to predictable, unimaginative functionalism. Today I am still driven by a strong curiosity towards materials and so, one day, I’ve decided to work on my own.

What have been the rewards of practicing architecture?

The rewards are the work in my team. I like to remember what the Americans call ‘holistic design’, a holistic approach that thanks to team work, unites different professional figures into one single project: architect, interior architect, lighting designer, landscape designer, graphics expert, communication and marketing experts. This is the philosophy of our studio which in this way guarantees the client a series of services in a complex project.

Vigilius Mountain Resort, Italy

How do you think the role of the architect will change over the next years?

My architecture and design work always mirrors the surroundings, the culture of the place, the culture of the investor – this might be a characteristic and should be applicated by more architects in order to see the “Genius Loci”.

Do you have a favorite of all the buildings you’ve built?

There isn’t any – my highlights are the next projects.

What does success mean to you?

I am always driven by the “genius loci”, meaning that all my projects try to respect nature and the place where they have to fit in. My hope is that our children and grandchildren will find the planet in the same conditions as we found it when we were born. My keyword is “location, location, location…”. I try to take elements from the exact site where I am building and incorporate them into the design. Projects – either in design and architecture – should be part of a certain atmosphere for which they were created and that is more important than the projects themselves: aesthetic and technical durability. Generally our design principles are: respect for nature and surroundings – simplicity of layout – serenity of spirit – sensuality of material and light. If I succeed in working as a lifecycle manager – this means success for me.

My signature question – what are the most important design elements?

We create anything from a wrist watch to a bathtub, to the hotel interior or the hotel architecture itself. We try to create sustainablility, weather that means a building in the desert, a nightclub in the Alps, the interior of a fashion hotel, or a product design. My credo is “Echo, not Ego”, results are achieved only through interdisciplinary teamwork and this is my signature.


20 Kommentare zu “Interview with Matteo Thun”

  1. meenal@maison marigold am 02.08.2011 um 11:37 Uhr 

    Love his philosophy..and that Hugo boss unit is stupendous!! hope you are having a lovely time with your family, Maria..warm hugs..xx meenal

  2. Tereza am 02.08.2011 um 13:45 Uhr 

    Hi, Maria!
    Love when you post these interviews here.
    It’s so obvious he can capture the soul of a place, the fantastic Hugo Boss store project is proof of that.
    And you are still on vacation, I’m sure you’re having fun.
    About Portuguese, I can see new words coming every time you comment on my blog, awesome.
    Please, have fun, you’ll have the rest of year for work and serious matters.
    Big hugs to you.

  3. homestilo am 02.08.2011 um 15:45 Uhr 

    He seems to have such an organic approach. Great interview!

  4. SizzleandZoom am 02.08.2011 um 18:18 Uhr 

    Interesting interview! Beautiful post of his work.

  5. Mid Century Home am 02.08.2011 um 19:41 Uhr 

    What a nice interview…and how lucky were you to meet him! :D

    Sottsass and Castiglioni are two of my favorite designers/architects as well….did you read the Biography I worte about Castiglioni some time ago? ( Have a look at it :)

    Thanks for inspiring us Maria.


  6. mary jo am 02.08.2011 um 21:09 Uhr 

    Really incredibly thoughtful–I had to quiet down and concentrate. I love this attention to detail, and by detail I mean all the elements involved in creating. Part of being a great designer is having the details articulated and solved. I love his vision. Great interview Maria!

    xo Mary Jo

  7. mary jo am 02.08.2011 um 21:27 Uhr 

    I think my comment somehow disappeared into the ethers–anyway, Maria I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this interview. His thoughtful attention to detail and problem solving his goals is what truly great designers do. He is one of my favorite designers that you have interviewed.

    xo Mary Jo

  8. Marianne am 02.08.2011 um 22:33 Uhr 

    Öhh, Architektur klasse…der Mann aber auch *grinzzz*

  9. Pamela Ravek am 02.08.2011 um 22:41 Uhr 

    Wonderful interview, Maria. Love Matteo’s thoughtful, beautiful expressions re: his attitude and philosophy of life, work and creations as a lifecycle manager.

  10. Alexa am 03.08.2011 um 02:28 Uhr 

    I just love the lines and the simplicity here. Just lovely.

  11. Shelly Gregory am 03.08.2011 um 05:34 Uhr 

    He had me at “Echo not Ego”! What a profound statement! His work shows heart! He absolutely cares about the surroundings, the feeling, and the affects on the surroundings. Matteo’s interview is full of compassion for what and how designs, and passion, for his love of design. xo

  12. Harald am 03.08.2011 um 07:50 Uhr 

    Ein Interview welches zeigt, das Erfolg und Bescheidenheit nicht konkurrieren müssen. Das schweizer “Industrie-Gebäude” für Hugo Boss ist für mich ein architektonischer Glanzpunkt.

    VG Harald

  13. cabbagerose am 03.08.2011 um 12:41 Uhr 

    love his hugo boss concept store. he has a great philosophy and approach; ‘designing the soul of the place.’ hope you are having a great time. so happy you are checking in…xx

  14. kat+muse am 03.08.2011 um 19:47 Uhr 

    Wow! I love the lighting in the fourth image! If I didn’t already want a vacation to Italy, I definitely do now! Hope you’re having a fabulous week :) xx

  15. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking am 04.08.2011 um 04:52 Uhr 

    Wow what a great post!! Such an awesome interview!!

  16. Stephie am 04.08.2011 um 07:57 Uhr 

    Amazing work – what a talent! Thanks for sharing. I LOVE the “Echo not ego” quote. If only more people lived by this ethos! Hugs, Stephie x

  17. La Boheme am 04.08.2011 um 09:22 Uhr 

    Maria!!!!! Let me just tell you that I have his website up on my computer for the past week and I keep going through the projects, constantly finding so much inspiration…love love love this man! And thank YOU for being so great! big hugs to you

  18. Stacey am 04.08.2011 um 13:45 Uhr 

    love his philosophy on design!i agree with the other commenters too that the Hugo Boos store is just beyond stunning! another great interview!

  19. Meta Musings am 04.08.2011 um 20:40 Uhr 

    maria, another great interview! he seems to have an incredible career. his philosophy is one to be admired and is quite rare in the design world. fabulous! xx

  20. design traveller am 05.08.2011 um 10:30 Uhr 

    I was glad to read about ‘genius loci’, an essential idea to understand for any architect /interior designer.

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