He hit the fashion design scene 40 years ago. Today he has designed almost everything, making his company into a global brand, ranging from furnishing collections (with Armani Casa since 2000) to large interior projects (with Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio since 2004). His voyage in the field of hospitality began in 2004, when he signed a contract with Mohamed Alabbar, President of Emaar Properties PJSC, to do the furnishings for the interiors of the world’s tallest building, the famous Buri Khalifa in Dubai, home of the first Armani Hotel. Versatile, complex experience that in ten years of projects, from London to Mumbai, many completed and some still in progress, has led him to work with architects of international stature like Daniel Libeskind, César Pelli, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.
HOW DID THIS LEAP OF SCALE HAPPEN, AND HOW HAS IT BEEN STRUCTURED ON AN OPERATIVE LEVEL?
“I have always had a total vision of aesthetics and I have applied this taste to my homes, my stores, my work spaces, always, until I reached the point of designing furniture, following a fluid path. Then, in 2004, when Emaar Properties proposed the idea of an Armani Hotel, and later with the development of custom Armani interiors, I simply boosted the scale of what I was already doing. They were natural passages, well-structured in design and organizational terms, and I have always been able to count on the best teams.”
DESIGN PRODUCTS AND INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE, MICRO AND MACRO: ANY THOUGHTS ON THE PARTICULAR SKILLS INVOLVED IN DESIGNING INNOVATIVE FURNITURE OR THE INTERIORS OF A HOTEL? WHAT DO THE TWO SCALES HAVE IN COMMON, AND WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
“My work is basically instinctive: it comes from appreciation of luxurious and natural materials, essential, harmonious lines. The initial challenge is there, and it makes no difference if you are talking about fine wood or a beautiful fabric. The development, in the case of furniture and interiors, happens with sector experts, guided by me – I am used to teamwork. Designing furniture is certainly closer to designing a jacket. An environment comes from the dialogue with the client and the place: unpredictable but very stimulating variables. The fil rouge is my aesthetic sense, the choice of not adding but subtracting, of letting the beauty of finishes and materials be enhanced by the simplicity of the design.”
TASTE AND GENIUS LOCI AT DIFFERENT LATITUDES: DO YOU DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO GRASP TRADITIONS, CULTURES, SPECIFIC WAYS OF LIVING, THE POSSIBILITY OF EXPERIMENTING WITH CUSTOM DESIGN SOLUTIONS?
“Absolutely. And for me that is a very natural dialogue, because my aesthetic comes from a constant relationship with other cultures, other ways of thinking about decor, color, simplicity, space. I think that the essence of the contemporary lies in this pursuit of fusion.”
IN YOUR VIEW, HOW IS TRUE INNOVATION EXPRESSED IN INTERIOR DESIGN TODAY TO GIVE FORM TO THE ‘DREAM OF LIVING’ AND, IN THIS CASE, A HOSPITALITY SPACE?
“For me, true innovation comes from the use of better materials, the recovery of precious crafts techniques and the integration of technology – which should not become a gadget – with the environment. In this sense my work as an interior architect happens in a situation of continuity: the dream of living and a space of hospitality are the same at the start. It is the hand that has gotten more refined, finding an apt expressive synthesis and increasingly sophisticated techniques.”
OVER THE YEARS DIFFERENT COMPANIES IN THIS SECTOR HAVE BEEN SOLD TO FOREIGN FUNDS. WHERE IS THE FRONT LINE TO RESIST?
“My line of resistance is the desire for independence, which has been a fixed tenet throughout my career. Without autonomy there can be no real freedom, and without freedom I would have no reason to work, because I could work the way I want.”
Interior Design Studio Armani/Casa: 10 projects, completed or in progress
2005-2010 Armani Hotel Dubai, in collaboration with Emaar Properties. Interior design and furnishings
of the hotel and Armani Residence interiors in the world’s tallest building, the Dubai Burj Khalifa.
2007-2011 Armani Hotel Milano, via Manzoni, in collaboration with Emaar Properties. Interior design and furnishings of the hotel.
2009-2011 Via San Pietro all’Orto 6, Milan, complex of serviced apartments, for which the Studio entirely furnished the lobby, the common areas and all the residential units.
2010-2012 Maçka Residences, Istanbul, in collaboration with Astas Holding. Architectural design by Metex Design Group, for 170 apartments. The Studio designed and furnished all the common areas and the show-flats.
2011-2015 Queens Gate Place, London, in collaboration with Alchemy Properties. Private residence. Victorian townhouse from 1860 ca. 1000 m2 on 6 floors, entirely renovated and furnished.
2011-2018 The World Towers, Mumbai, in collaboration with Lodha Group, world’s tallest residential building. Architectural design by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. All common spaces and 800 apartments will have interior design by Armani/Casa, equipped with Armani/Dada kitchens and Armani/Roca bathrooms.
2012-2018 Century Spire, Manila, in collaboration with Century Properties. Architectural design by Daniel Libeskind. Interior design and furnishings of residential units and common areas.
2013-2018 Harbaa Towers, Tel Aviv, in collaboration with Hagag Group. Architectural design by Moshe Zur. Design of entrance lobby and skylounge.
2014- 2016 Art Residences, Chengdu, China, in collaboration with Mind Group, inside two towers with architectural design by Aedes. Interior design of residential units and common areas.
2014-2018 Residences by Armani/Casa in Miami, in collaboration with Dezer Development and Related Group. Architectural design by César Pelli.
edited by Antonella Boisi
photos courtesy of Giorgio Armani