The Home is a Habitat

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Dealing with the major themes of today, with projects ranging from architecture to interior design, and from retail to the hotel and restaurant sectors. This is the daily task of the firm - with offices in Milan and Shanghai - founded and led by architects Tiziano Vudafieri and Claudio Saverino. In their twenty-year careers, they have worked in almost every country and on every continent, aiming to combine each location’s identity with a precise “storytelling strategy”.

Our homes are changing: on the one hand, we hear of a new minimalism, but on the other people feel the need for more atmosphere, warmth, decoration …

There is apparently no direct link between the “needs of the pandemic” and minimalism versus decorative mood-creation. Plain, minimal austerity and rich material effects are states of mind and visions of the world. In these difficult times, when we are all at home a great deal, perhaps we are all seeking more empathy, warmth and comfort from our habitats. Our homes will change, but not very much: a little more flexibility, more outdoor spaces and the need for nearby green areas.

Proportion, craftsmanship, high quality decorations: which are the essential features of your formula? 
We are very fond of the definition “relationship design”. To use an environmental metaphor, what architects create for us are “habitats”, quality places where our species can conduct its social relations. Very simply, the fundamental ingredients of what we do are space, light and matter. It is our job to give meaning to these elements by adding an attention to the relationships between objects, space and people. 


Many decorative products provide outstanding performances and digital decoration is more and more widely used. How is interior design changing?

We love both industrial products and leading-edge research and the skills of traditional craftsmen. Digital decoration is a great resource during the development of a project, and also because it enables the easy design and construction of tailor made products, with low costs and truly unlimited freedom of expression and “decoration”. This ideal blend of craftsmanship and mass production is also found in ceramics, where the wealth of finishes, decorative motifs and customisations is transforming the rules of composition. The latest innovations, also in the area of self-cleaning antibacterial surfaces, mean that ethics and aesthetics can be united in a single product. 

Your firm is based in Milan, and also in Shanghai since 2012. Which trends are emerging most strongly? 
There have been many changes in the last twenty years. China has been transformed, and Shanghai with it, but above all customers have changed. Now, especially in Shanghai, the competition and the quality of architectural design equal, or even surpass, those of Milan, London or New York. With regard to trends, China is increasingly focused on the latest technologies and smart buildings, in both functional and construction terms. A lot of importance is given to sustainability, supported by the government’s ambitious plan to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2060. People are very interested in what is happening in Europe, and especially in Italian design: at this moment in history, Italy is very well placed to become a key reference for China.

At this time of transition between eras, which projects are you working on?

Several hotel industry projects, including a new hotel for the UNA group, which will open in Milan soon. There are also two hotels in Cortina (Veneto) and in Licata (Sicily) for the Falkensteiner group. In the food world, after designing the new Paradiso restaurant in Cannes, we are working with top French chef Pierre Gagnaire again, this time for an opening in Abu Dhabi. We have also been working in the very contemporary area of the restyling of public space: Valet, a system of parklets that generates new outdoor spaces for shops and terraces for restaurants, transforming streets into attractive green areas.