|Architecture, Designer, Interviews|
“Architecture means designing the soul of the place.”
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.