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10 Questions With… Matteo Thun

Cala Beach Club at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Porto Cervo on Sardinia. Photography courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

A holistic approach to nature and wellness drives Matteo Thun’s built projects. The award-winning Italian architect and Interior Design Hall of Fame member co-founded the iconic Italian design and architecture collective the Memphis Group with Ettore Sottsass in 1981, before striking out on his own, forming Matteo Thun & Partners in 2001. Thun’s happiest designing something new, he admits, and his firm’s creative eye, honed out of a headquarters in Milan and an office in Shanghai, is behind a long list of high-profile hospitality and healthcare projects spanning the globe.

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Most recently, summer saw the reassembly of Thun’s temporary beach structure, Cala Beach Club on the breathtaking Emerald Coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. Situated at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, a playground for the rich and, at times, famous—many of them yachting enthusiasts—Cala Beach Club is an environmentally sensitive structure only accessible by foot or boat. In summer it hums with private parties, with clientele seduced by the stunning natural landscape. Interior Design sat down with Thun to hear more about the Cala Beach Club, what toy kicked off his imagination at a young age, and which project reachable solely by cable car he considers a career turning point.

Interior Design: What was your overall design goal for Cala Beach Club?

Matteo Thun: Cala di Volpe is a beautiful beach in Sardinia. We wanted to create a shady oasis just between the woods and the sea. Restaurant, bar, and treatment rooms have been designed to melt within the landscape, to respect the charm of this special place.

ID: What was particularly challenging about this project?

MT: This property is reachable only by boat or on a path through nature. Since it serves only for the season, we designed a removable structure that is easily to assemble and dismantle.

Cala Beach Club at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Porto Cervo on Sardinia. Photography courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

ID: What materials did you use and why?

MT: The structure unites with the beach vegetation, terraces value the inclination of the land, and views are open to the sea. We only used natural materials that integrate with the surroundings, such as chestnut wood and bamboo. All colors are natural and warm.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

MT: We like to bring nature inside and believe in concepts that emphasize an overall healthy lifestyle as a main approach. Healthy architecture and interior design guarantees physical and mental well being, allowing a relationship between humans and the environment. In Obbürgen, Switzerland, the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, which opened at the end of last year, is a space for wellness and medical services. It’s made from local stone and wood, and nature will take over in a few years so that the building will melt with the mountain. As with most of our projects, we also designed the entire interior.

Another recent project is the new headquarters for Davines, an Italian beauty company dedicated to sustainability and based in Parma, Italy. Here, we grouped traditional rural shapes and innovative volumes around a greenhouse that serves as a restaurant for the employees. Maximum architectural transparency with a minimum amount of masonry elements provides every working station with a view of the green areas.

The Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort in Obbürgen, Switzerland by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Andrea Garuti, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

ID: What’s upcoming for you?

MT: The Evangelisches Waldkrankenhaus Spandau in Berlin at the largest university orthopedic center in Europe. Waldkrankenhaus means ‘hospital in the forest’ in German, and the new hospital building and rehab building connected to it will transform the hospital campus into a health center with a hotel character. This project represents our idea of a healing environment, an architectural and organizational structure that helps the patient and his relatives endure stressful situations caused by illness, operations, treatments, and sometimes pain.

Another hospitality project, a health bathing spa with medical treatments and maximum comfort, is underway in Bavaria, at Tegernsee, a resort town on the banks of Germany’s Tegernsee Lake. Nature is also the point of departure here and was key to the project. The landscape design integrates the existing flora and references the natural presence of water, allowing a direct communication with nature without interfering with the privacy of the patients.

The Evangelisches Waldkrankenhaus Spandau in Berlin by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

ID: Is there a project in your history that you feel was particularly significant to your career?

MT: I designed the Vigilius Mountain Resort in South Tirol more than 15 years ago. It was one of the first design hotels, made from local larch wood and reachable only by cable car. The owner and I shared the same vision: to create a hotel that fuses with its surroundings, a place where you can breathe and relax instantly. Now, after all these years, the wood has a beautiful patina and the hotel a constant influx of international clientele.

ID: What are you reading?

MT: I very much like to read books in parallel: such as German philosopher Martin Heidegger with a novel or short story by Italian journalist and writer Italo Calvino

The Vigilius Mountain Resort by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Serge Brison, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

ID: How do you think your childhood influenced your design thinking?

MT: My parents took me regularly to the Venice Biennale, so I became familiar with art and architecture at quite a young age. I grew up in nature, in the mountains near Bolzano, Italy, where my mother worked with pottery. She gave me clay to play with—so I had to use my imagination to have fun with it. I was always very close to material and materiality.

ID: How do think the Italian design culture influences your overall approach?

MT: In Italy, architecture is approached holistically. Let me quote Italian architect and writer Ernesto Rogers: ‘From spoon to city.’ This means working on a chair, on a lighting product, and on a house at the same time. We’ve worked like this in my office since the beginning, and the different teams of architects, interior designers, and product designers perform across disciplines.

Another big strength is Italian craftsmanship. At Salone del Mobile 2019, we launched a wood chair collection produced by F.lli Levaggi, a small manufacturer in Liguria, Italy, and work regularly with the glassblowers from Murano, such as Venini, Barovier & Toso, and Seguso. We very much believe in ‘Made in Italy.’

The Vigilius Mountain Resort by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Vigilius Mountain Resort, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

ID: Is there a person in the industry that you particularly admire?

MT: Ettore Sottsass, chief designer of Olivetti. I first worked for him as an assistant, then we formed Sottsass Associati and in 1981 we co-founded Italian design and architecture collective Memphis Group. Memphis had an important formative influence on my career, and provided a platform to experiment with the challenges of constant innovation. Ettore designed the first Italian computer—in the late 1950s.

Keep scrolling for more images of projects by Matteo Thun >

The Vigilius Mountain Resort by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Florian Andergassen, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.
The Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort in Obbürgen, Switzerland by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Andrea Garuti, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.
The alpine suite at the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort in Obbürgen, Switzerland by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Waldhotel, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.
The pool at the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort in Obbürgen, Switzerland by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Waldhotel, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners
The Davines headquarters in Parma, Italy by Matteo Thun & Partners. Photography by Andrea Garuti, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.
The Nudes seating collection by Matteo Thun, launched at Salone del Mobile 2019. Photography by Marco Bertolini, courtesy of Matteo Thun & Partners.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Gert Wingardh

Continue reading 10 Questions With… Matteo Thun

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16 Danish Furniture Highlights from Copenhagen’s 3 Days of Design

Popularity for Danish furniture continues to surge. A great place to experience this in action: 3DaysofDesign, which was held May 23-25 in Copenhagen. With product and brand launches, exhibitions and pop-up events, and a record 150 exhibitors, the sixth edition of Denmark’s annual design event was bigger and bolder this year, with increased citywide presence in part due to a graphic identity crafted by Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon. From Michelin-starred restaurant furnishings now available to all, archival pieces finding a new audience, and a reinvention of the lowly toilet brush, here are 16 of our favorite finds.

Photography by Magnus Omme, courtesy of Space Copenhagen.

 

Take home your very own Michelin-starred restaurant furnishings with the Holmen collection from Space Copenhagen. Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant lauded as one of the best in the world, auctioned off its oak side tables by cabinet maker Malte Gormsen for a cool $4,000 a piece—while the MG 205 side table by Malte Gormsen was offered at a more reasonable price point. 

Photography by Magnus Omme, courtesy of Space Copenhagen.

The browned oak and metal MG 101 dining chair, also part of the Holmen collection by Malte Gormsen for Space Copenhagen, once furnished the 108 restaurant in Copenhagen, a Noma-spin off.

Photography courtesy of Carl Hansen & Søn.

An archival piece with a distinctive pressed veneer backrest saw daylight once more with Carl Hansen & Søn ‘s re-release of the Contour lounge chair, designed by Børge Mogensen in 1949. Available in oak, walnut, or a combination of the two, the chair stays true to original sketches— with the exception of added comfort in the form of an upholstered seat.

Photography courtesy of File Under Pop.

File Under Pop presented a new brand focusing on surfaces, first previewed in Milan last month. A collaboration between File Under Pop founder and creative director Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer and architect Elisa Ossino, H+O is a modular tile brand applicable for use on walls, floors, and ceilings. The large-format Rilievi collection consists of eight different tiles with three-dimensional geometric surfaces available in four color ways.

Photography courtesy of &Tradition.

The distinctive shape of a fungus brings the USB-chargeable Setago table lamp for &Tradition to life. Just like a mushroom, the wireless lamp, designed by Jaime Hayon and first presented in Milan this year, can be plucked and moved at ease.

Photography courtesy of Takt.

The stackable oak and plywood Cross chair by London studio PearsonLloyd for the freshly launched design brand Takt can be shipped flatpack—one of the factors leading to its sustainable certification. It’s also made of 100 percent FSC-certified wood.

Photography courtesy of Wehlers.

Fishing nets and steel are recycled and repurposed for the fabrication of the R.U.M. chair—short for ReUsedMaterials—designed by C. F. Møller Design for Wehlers.

Photography courtesy of Please Wait to be Seated.

Bulk just where you want it—at the seat pad—is behind the name of the tubular steel Tubby Tube, a stool by Faye Toogood for Please Wait to be Seated.

Photography courtesy of Jot.jot.

The comfort of wood and the strength of steel are a successful union for the slim yet sturdy and stackable Shadow chair by Boris Berlin Design for Jot.jot.

Photography courtesy of Skagerak.

Bold color marks the 20th anniversary of the Cutter Jubilee bench by Niels Hvass for Skagerak , now available in scarlet red-lacquered oak.

Photography courtesy of House of Finn Juhl.

The armchair, later nicknamed the Grasshopper due to its nod to the herbivorous insect, was first designed by Finn Juhl in 1938. However, it wasn’t until much later that the chair’s avant-garde form received appreciation. Before its release at Milan Design Week under House of Finn Juhl, the firm that carries on the designer’s legacy, only two existed—and one auctioned off for $360,000 in 2018.

Photography courtesy of House of Finn Juhl.

House of Finn Juhl also presented Finn Juhl’s extendable Bovirke table, which premiered at an exhibition in 1948. Available in oak or walnut, Bovirke nearly doubles in size, from 55 inches to 94 inches long.

The Bovirke table by Finn Juhl, an archival piece released by House of Finn Juhl. Photography courtesy of House of Finn Juhl.
Photography courtesy of Fredericia.

In tribute to the former home of Copenhagen’s Royal Mail—now the manufacturer’s showroom—Fredericia presented the Post collection by Cecilie Manz. A plywood seat and back combines with a solid wood frame for the Post chair. First previewed in Milan last month, the collection also includes a table.

Photography courtesy of Unidrain.

A 3 Days of Design breakfast event celebrated the lowly toilet brush with a presentation from Unidrain. With an inner container fitted with a splash guard and a replaceable brush head resisting both water and paper collection, Toilet Brush Wall Mounted Copper is engineered to reduce bacteria and mess.

Photography courtesy of Overgaard & Dyrman.

 The distinctive shape of a technical drawing tool—the compass—inspired the back of the Circle dining chair by Overgaard & Dyrman, while cushions take cues from the round sphere it draws.

The Circle dining chair by Overgaard & Dyrman. Photography courtesy of Overgaard & Dyrman.
Photography courtesy of Montana.

Montana introduced a new color palette for its signature shelving—an endeavor the manufacturer undertakes every eight years. Developed in collaboration with Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard, the 30 new hues include amber, rhubarb, flint, and chamomile, shown (clockwise) here.

Continue reading 16 Danish Furniture Highlights from Copenhagen’s 3 Days of Design

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