Adam D. Tihany
Hospitality urban design
Floornature, July 12, 2010
The Line restaurant
The Line restaurant
The environmental context and the materials of the project

A.F.: How have you applied materials to your current creation, even in an expressive way, especially on surfaces and floors?

Adam D. Tihany: Well, I have never been accused of being a minimalist. I mean I love materials, I love surfaces, I like things that are not manmade, that are, you know, made by nature, take them and make then look even more interesting. Combinations of surfaces: wood, glass, metal, stone, you know. I welcome all of this. In all my projects I like to use local materials, first of all, because what they do is anchor the project in a local reality, which makes it site-specific. So in Capetown, for example, we used local stones and local wood, obviously, local fabrics. All the fabrics and the furniture made in Capetown. All the furniture was made in Capetown, all the woodwork, everything. Luckily you work in Africa so they have beautiful wood. There is beautiful metalwork. There is beautiful craftsmanship and we love to put all of this in the project because that's what it calls for. I mean, you can see when people come in they say "Wow, this is great! Where is it made?" I say "It's made locally." They say "Fantastic, I never thought about this." So, I would say, doing a big project in Milano is a dream because you can use all kinds of fantastic materials. Everything comes from the area: the craftsmanship, the local stuff. So, I have no problem, you know, getting involved very intimately with the product and with the surface and with the material and with the artisans. I me, to me it's all part of one expression. The greatest projects are always a mix of, you know, artisans, craftsmen, great materials, great ideas put together in one blender and you mix the whole thing and you get something fantastic. So....

The Joule_Ocean front residence
The Joule_Ocean front residence
A.F.: When you have to work on existing places like the Westin-Chosun in Seoul, how do you insert new elements?

Adam D. Tihany: Well, again, we did a lot of historical interiors. We worked in historical buildings. Some of them, for example, Le Cirque, in New York, you could not touch anything because the interior was a registered landmark. The interior... There are only three... four interiors in New York that are registered landmarks so the landmark permit doesn't give you permission to do anything. So you can restore the place, you know, you can fix the lighting, you can do it but you can't touch anything. So the challenges in these places vary. When you work in a landmark place like this, what we did was something quite, you know, interesting, that turned out to be from a disadvantage to an advantage because what we did is we did a removable interior. There was nothing attached to anything. Everything was freestanding, even the curtains in the window were with tension rods. There were no screws, nothing. It was all removable. Then, you know, I said to Maccioni, I said, listen, you know, the idea is actually right because the circus, you know this is a circus. It comes to town, put the tent, open, everything inside. When they leave they close the tent, they go, the piazza is still the same. So this is very appropriate for the concept of the restaurant. Other projects that are historical depends on, again, what's the permission how much can you do, how much you can't do. So it starts with the legal process and then we try to interfere by either creating something that is completely in contrast with the historical location or something that goes with it. It all depends. So, we are flexible as much as the program is flexible.

Tihany Design
Tihany Design
Designing for the contract

A.F.: Which are the positive and the negative aspects of designing for the contract?

Adam D. Tihany: Well, the greatest positive aspect, in my opinion, is also the negative aspect. Is an issue of schedule and budget. Contract projects have a beginning and an end and that is the greatest thing for me. But it's also the most difficult one because you have to conform to a schedule and to a budget. The other great thing about contract work is that you don't have a housewife that drives you crazy. You have a client that drives you crazy but not ... A person that deals more from a business decision-making process versus an emotional. When you do a home for somebody, I mean, you know, it's all about emotion. When you do a contract project it's all about schedule and budget. So it's two different worlds completely.

A.F.: Your projects: what is the relationship between architectural space and interior space?

Adam D. Tihany: It's one and the same. It's always one and the same. I mean we.... My background is architecture so I can't distinguish between interior and architectural space. The interior envelope is architecture. When we get involved in big hotel projects we usually are called to participate very early, when the building is almost not designed and we discuss with he architect of the building our needs, how do we envision the public spaces of the hotel for example, what's size of the room, what kind of corridors we want. Because the customer actually experiences the interiors most of the time, not the exterior. The exterior you view but what you actually experience is the interior. And the relationship between the two, if it's clear from the beginning, it goes very smoothly, you know. The problem comes when you find an existing space and you have to try to carve, you know, a volume that will respond to the kind of experiences that you want to give to the customer. Sometimes that is difficult because, you know, the height of the window, the way the light comes in, the skylights, the proportion. That's always my main concern because if the box works, everything else works but if the box is not good we have a problem, you know.

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