Tag Archives: Oasis

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


Why Your Next Vacation Rental May Look Like A Wayfair Catalog

Vacasa has partnered with Wayfair to bring interior decorating services to vacation rental property owners. Will it make homeshares all look the same?

Vacation rental sharing and management platform Vacasa is getting into interior design. The company is launching a new tiered service in partnership with the cheap, trendy furniture giant Wayfair that gives clients access to affordable home refurbishings. The offering is part of a broader trend among real estate companies to use amenities to compete for consumers’ dollars. But it may also have the effect of giving even more vacation rentals and homeshares the same sterile look.

Vacasa, for those who aren’t familiar, is more property management service than home rental platform. While vacationers can book stays through the Vacasa website, the company also lists its properties on other sites like Airbnb and Vacasa handles property maintenance and manages guests during their stay. It also promises clients that it will help make them more money than if they list directly themselves. The company takes professional photos of all the properties it manages, and now it will help broaden their appeal with updated furnishings and suggestions for light cosmetic remodeling.

Vacasa is hardly the only company to serve the home-sharing economy. Since Airbnb has gained in popularity, several other management services have sprung up, including Airconcierge, Bnbsitter, GuestReady, and Guesty. But only one of those, Airconcierge, offers redesign services.

For Vacasa, design guidance is just the latest service it’s offering. Last June, the company began matching investment properties with potential owners. The company has also started exploring concierge services for guests–essentially a point person who can help coordinate activities on a trip, though that is still in a pilot phase (last October, the company acquired luxury rental brand Oasis, which offered concierge).

[Photo: courtesy Vacasa]

The interior design business is meant to cater to property owners who want to increase the value of their properties. The fee starts at $200 for a mood board, redesign strategy, and tips and tricks for staging. A full furnish costs anywhere from $599 to $1,119 plus a staging fee. Roughly 60% of the furniture comes from Wayfair. Imagery on Vacasa’s website shows apartments designed in the composite mid-century style of West Elm.

The company’s early data suggests that such redesigns garner more bookings—up an average of 12%. Revenues increased as much as 20% in revamped apartments, which means renters who sign up for the service may be able to increase the nightly price of their rental. “The point is to enable higher booking pricing,” says Vacasa CEO Eric Breon. “If each of our homes books for 20% more because it has exactly the amenities and furnishings that guests are seeking, we don’t have to do any more work even though it’s now renting for 20% more—so the economics work out very favorable to us.” He says Vacasa breaks even on the service itself.

The move into services is reminiscent of another trend in the world of real estate. Increasingly, commercial building landlords are competing for well-heeled tenants by offering restaurants, fitness centers, stores, hotels, and coworking spaces in their buildings. They even make apps, so tenants can gain access to anything they want at the touch of a button.

[Photo: courtesy Vacasa]

There is a comparable phenomenon within the hotel industry. When competition is high, hotel companies lean into amenities: wine tastings, dining options for pets, and crushed pearl packets in every room. “These kinds of activities, many of which are food-and-beverage-oriented, are not about creating new food and beverage profits or function profits,” says Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality consultant. “They really are about other things that create positioning and awareness of the hotel or more room occupancy.”

Likewise, Vacasa is seeking more occupancies and at a higher price. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the company purchased a Gulf Coast chain called Sterling Resorts, which will add 450 condos to its roster. Sterling also handles food and beverage services in its buildings, pushing Vacasa more firmly into hotel territory.  The company manages a total of 13,000 properties.

Everyone wants to stay in a stylish home rental, but not every vacation home owner has the vision to make it so. Now, more people can outsource their interior design (rudimentary though it may be). As summer holiday season hits, don’t be surprised when a home you rent has a couch with tapered wooden legs and faux marble topped coffee tables. The more home-sharing platforms structure their businesses like hotels, the more they will look like generic hotel rooms (but like more hygge, you know?).


Ruth Reader is a writer for Fast Company. She covers the intersection of real estate, technology, and the future of work.




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Continue reading Why Your Next Vacation Rental May Look Like A Wayfair Catalog

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