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Matteo Thun: Genius Loci as philosophy

Designs that elevate the everyday by fostering a positive relationship between people, places and objects, to create an intangible joie de vivre and an environmentally-friendly sense of well-being: a brief summary of the concept of architecture and design advocated by Matteo Thun, one of Italy’s leading internationally renowned designers who also recently made his yacht design debut. And that’s where we started our conversation from. (Here all our posts about Matteo Thun)

Matteo Thun
Matteo Thun ©NachoAlegre

Matteo Thun and the Azimut Seadeck 6

«Designing the interior of a motoryacht may not initially sound conscious. But Azimut offers the highest in standard of hybrid propulsion and we wanted to design an iconic, contemporary interior for the Seadeck 6 that would make its mark and take an already high quality boat to the next level,” Thun tells us.

Azimut Seadeck

“The Seadeck 6 delivers the experience a future-focused yacht with a holistic vision that significantly reduces its carbon, water and waste footprint. It guarantees the utmost in comfort and longevity with no waste throughout its entire life cycle, from product to transport to use and dismantling. It combines all the expertise we’d built up in the hospitality and residential architecture sector with huge in-depth materials research”.  

Azimut Seadeck

Twenty years of great importance

The first time we met Thun was in the early noughties when he was working on designing Tortona 37 in Milan. “Everything that’s happened in the interim has hugely influenced our day to day life,” he says. “I think it was a fundamental paradigm shift: September 11 2001 marked the end of certain consumer habits, digitalisation changed global communications, and the pandemic slowed us down and made us take a step back. The current debate on climate change, the environment and sustainable consumption, the fact that scientists and philosophers are saying that nature has a healing effect on us, and international conservation work have all made us much more aware of this important subject.

Azimut Seadeck

Matteo Thun and the Genius loci

As architects and designers, we have a huge responsibility to ensure that our designs stand the test of time. We really have to get in the game to protect the planet and ensure our children get to experience what we did as youngsters. We believe we can make a major contribution to a healthy, simple and better life”. 

MatteoThun&Partners, MolinoMandelli ©MTP

That means respect for the surroundings in which the architecture will be located, by coming up with solutions that meld seamlessly into the terroir and thus the local landscape. “We always try to build in as much harmony with the Genius Loci as possible and to use local materials,” continues Thun. “For example, in the “Parco Sul Sile” in Treviso, we will be renovating historic 18th century buildings overlooking the River Sile.

MatteoThun&Partners, MolinoMandelli ©MTP

Buildings that are currently derelict will be reused and new two and three-floor residential complexes surrounded by green areas will be built. The historic Mill will be preserved and restored under the supervision of the Italian heritage authorities to retain their original character and spirit whilst creating a constant dialogue with what is already there and the context. The park will be open to the Treviso community, offering public spaces and services that will inject new life into the area and create gathering places. It will be an homage to the city of Treviso, its waterways and, obviously, the old mill”. 

MatteoThun&Partners Langham Hotel Murano ©MatteoThun&Partners

Respecting local context also means including and giving a new lease of life to existing and decommissioned buildings. This is the case for The Langham Venice Hotel & Resort, a project that will involve the restoration of the 16th century Casino Mocenigo and its original frescos, which have been attributed to the school of Paolo Veronese, in addition to renovating industrial buildings that housed a 20th century glassworks. “We are very enthusiastic about it because it is a unique experience that will restore these historic buildings to their glorious past,” continues Thun. “With the Langham Hospitality Group and the Venetian heritage authorities, we will be able to guarantee that the Langham Venice is an authentic reflection of Venetian culture and lifestyle. We can’t wait to see this vision become a reality”. 

Il silenzio dei colori ©MarcoBertolini

Thun has also long been an advocate for constant dialogue with the artisanal tradition. “My mother was a ceramicist and I grew up watching her work with clay every day. When we work with the Venetian glass blowers and the Ligurian craftspeople, I am always fascinated by the extraordinary beauty they manage to imbue their works with. Craftsmanship is a unique cultural legacy that really should be given a new lease of life”. He continues: “Tactile materials speak to the senses.

Matteo Thun, Totem

They communicate a sense of beauty, interiority and sensorality: I love natural open cell stone because of its incredible energy and tactility. It’s the same with the soft lines, translucence and beauty of mouth-blown glass. And, of course, wood which is the cement of the 21st century. It’s synonymous with technical and aesthetic durability, has a practically endless life cycle and embodies the idea of building in harmony with local nature, culture and economy. It’s multi-tactile and sensory, and strengthens our immune system. Working with wood encapsulates our approach to consciousness and is helping to craft the beauty of the future”. A future, the architect confides, includes: “Salò…and plenty of other secrets besides!».

Gaia Grassi

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