Illuminated. It is the right attribute to describe Adam Tihany. These are his interior design projects that have transformed hotels, restaurants and cruise ships into iconic, world-famous places.
And it is the apartment in Paris, dressed in white and mirrors, from which the famous architect talks to us about what it means for him today to be a product designer, under the light of last lamp-applique designed for Bernardaud.
In summer, from the open windows, the sounds of live music events make the bright and refined atmosphere of the traditional house in the 5th arrondissement facing the Île Saint-Louis more alive, where the view extends from the Seine to Notre -Dame until Beaubourg.
“The house is an ultra-private project for me and Marnie, my wife, but this one has a different weight from the others, from the family home outside New York or from the pied-à-terre in New York and Miami, useful as a support when I'm in town,” he explains. “Here we are exactly where we want to be at this point in our lives. In all senses.
In that Europe that has remained in our hearts and where we intend to spend more time. In Paris, in a small apartment, about 90 m2, in which, apart from the decoration, the architecture had already been thought out very well and did not need major interventions.
Each space is a unique point of view that brings in the magic that we like to feel now. That of a city that is an open-air school of architecture, a mix of style, class and luxury inimitable, like bread, wine and French cheeses.
Then there is a very human dimension to the neighborhood where we are, small grocery stores and many artisan shops, unknown in New York, even if it was still like this in the Village when I arrived 45 years ago. From a cultural point of view it is non-stop, an epicenter of exhibitions, concerts and events."
However, this interior does not only describe what the Ville Lumière represents for an Israeli Italian-American who, after graduating in architecture from the Polytechnic of Milan, lived almost half a century overseas.
It is a tableau vivant that reflects experiences, travels and discoveries, flexibly welcoming memories, memories, art and design. “In fact,every presence has its own story and connections with others: a journey, a meeting, an event,” explains Tihany.
“But, it is precisely the limited dimensions of the space that stimulated me to pay significant attention to the perceptive aspects and the quality of the environments in relation to the furnishing elements that compose them, studying convertible solutions of necessity. They express my idea of rationalism referring to product design: it should always be site-specific and arise from the need to fill the lack of something,” she continues.
“When we saw it for the first time, the apartment was decorated in a style that declined the French interpretation of the Italian Renaissance, with a very dramatic scenographic apparatus: stucco golden curtains, Fortuny curtains and in our room even a Venetian mural with gondolas.
Nothing to do with Paris and the dimension of well-being we were looking for.
So I painted everything white. White on white. Having bleached the parquet, I planned many bookcases to accommodate our books and art objects, the works of artist-friends, from Milton Glaser to Jeff Koons, in the living room also hung on the mirrored wall which multiplies space and its perspectives.
Mixed discreetly, there are also some things of mine, the collages I make when I'm looking for inspiration. Like floor plans, the heart of every project for me, artfully composed fragments that aim to govern more emotional chords."
Adam Tihany designed almost all the main furnishings of the house.
Among these, with great attention to detail, the console stands out which when opened becomes a dining table and the modular/decomposable coffee table, in front of the sofa bed, reconfigurable into a bedside table or other version as needed. Structure finished in bronze, these transformable pieces harmonize with the material-chromatic palette of the environment.
But are they just "solutions of necessity" or do they represent the prelude to a new perspective in your design research? “To be honest, I'm moving towards the residential market,” she acknowledges.
“The tendency is to think of furniture as pieces of art, in limited editions, but it doesn't intrigue me that much.
If I have built few houses to date it is because since 1978 I have focused the TihanyDesign studio on hospitality and haute cuisine, together to AlessiaGenova, long-standing collaborator and partner since 2020. In fact, however, all my product designs in the contract fields have always been created for a unique and specific project.
Of course, the numbers of large supplies help: thinking of a lamp on a cruise ship means thinking in terms of producing 4000 pieces. Costs are falling and every solution seems possible.
The challenge will now be to create custom-made and personalized pieces with the industry to be destined for the domestic stage. I am probing the needs of European producers, the dynamics of supply and demand which here are different from the United States, where investments of time and energy in the search for new ideas and proposals are respected and, even if only symbolically, recognised.
But for me the usual rule applies: you need a reason to design yet another new session, beyond that of the sale supported by the companies' sales departments. Without forgetting the cross-over between public space and private space which is becoming increasingly significant.
The boundaries are blurred, if we think that in a restaurant or a hotel you can try out the chair for hours that you would then like to find in your everyday life. The world of hospitality has done a lot for design, but the residential market in Europe is bigger than the contract one."
For the record: during his long and happy career, Adam Tihany, king of interior design for hospitality worldwide, as well as creative director for Costa Crociere and Cunard, has designed product lines for various companies, such as Kartell, Christofle, Roda, Poltrona Frau, Giobagnara, Giorgetti, Valli & Valli, Frette, Unopiù, Bernardaud.