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Matteo Thun | Exclusive Interview

We had the pleasure to talk to designer and architect Matteo Thun

Matteo Thun + Partners is a multicultural architecture and design studio with Headquarters in Milan and subsidiaries in Shanghai. The company acts on an international level and develops projects from hospitality and residential, headquarters, retail and urban design as well as master planning since 1980.

Matteo Thun
Matteo Thun

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

Originally, I wanted to become a Doctor – but then I had the possibility to study under Oskar Kokoschka in Salzburg. He taught me to ‘see’– he gave us 2 minutes to look at an object. Afterwards we had to sketch the character of the seen objects with only a few strokes. This exercise still helps me today to quickly analyse the essence of things. Later I moved to Florence and studied Architecture under Adolfo Natalini and then moved to Milan where I met Ettore Sottass – we founded Memphis Group. 1984 I opened my own office in Milan – to present.

How can you characterize your style?

Following the principle of the Milan school we always worked in Design and Architecture parallel – approaching the projects with a holistic approach. Ideally, we design projects for which we can link architecture, interiors and design. These three disciplines are working closely together in our studio. Thus we can realize projects that are so to speak ‘costum made’, that are aesthetically, technologically and economically durable and at the same time time-efficient and cost effective.

Do you have a favourite of all the buildings you have built?

Actually, I am always focused on the next project….

What are the most important design elements?

Sustainability is of most importance to me – and I am not talking about ‘greenwashing – as the Americans call it. It means avoiding architectural wounds and using the right materials at the right place, finding the right configuration of the building volume. It means to respect the soul of every place and to capture and create a synthesis of the existing, the determination and the grounds. The solution is different each time. I want to create long lasting projects – projects and things that are growing old nicely. Of course this means to respect the environment. We follow the philosophy of the three Zeros: Zero CO2 (CO2-neutral energy production and construction), Zero km (reduced transport routes through prefabrication and local materials), Zero Waste (recycling of used materials)

Who you would like to design something for?

There is no limit, as long as there is a challenge to seek for new solutions.

What is the most amazing design you have ever seen?

Nature !

JW Marriott Venice - Matteo Thun
JW Marriott Venice – Matteo Thun + Partners

Where do you work on your designs and projects?

I am a visual person – so I draw wherever I am in my black note book.

Do you discuss your work with other designers and architects?

I am a team player – I have a great office with partners in design and architecture. And yes – we work with excellently skilled employees – of course we discuss!

Matteo Thun
Luxury hotel, The Fontenay – Matteo Thun

Are there any architects from the past that you appreciate a lot?

Absolutely – Ettore Sottsass – he taught me to go over borders, to always look for new solutions!

Matteo Thun Opera Mall China
Opera Mall in China – Matteo Thun

Who is your inspiration?

I travel a lot, meet loads of different, interesting people, love art and visit exhibitions as much as I can. Weekends I spend in nature – always the best energizer!

What advice you have for the next generation, particularly for those hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Actually I think, the best way to learn profoundly is to look for an excellent teacher, for a master.

What is your philosophy?

Listening to the Genius Loci…

“Only if you dare to do something new, to cross borders, you can experience new knowledge”. This is the driving energy of Matteo Thun’s work. 

Matteo Thun
Editor in Chief Scarlett Stilling with Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez

Matteo Thun + Partners