A year af­ter he joined Molteni&c as cre­ative di­rec­tor, ar­chi­tect Vin­cent Van Duy­sen ex­pounds on the won­der­ful jour­ney of cross-cul­tural col­lab­o­ra­tion

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Time flies when you’re hav­ing fun—and judg­ing by how fast the past 12 months went for Vin­cent Van Duy­sen, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Molteni&c | Dada, there’s no doubt that the part­ner­ship be­tween the Ital­ian brand and the Bel­gian ar­chi­tect was a match made in de­sign heaven. “It was very in­tense,” he says. “The year went by quickly, but I guess that’s what hap­pens when you gather ex­tremely mo­ti­vated and tal­ented peo­ple to­wards one goal.” Based in An­twerp, Van Duy­sen ad­mits he’s al­ways had a soft spot for Italy, and started col­lab­o­rat­ing with peo­ple and brands in Mi­lan early on in his ca­reer. “I learned the Ital­ian way of liv­ing as a young ar­chi­tect; ev­ery­thing here is ded­i­cated to beauty and I ad­mire that. I feel there must be some Mediter­ranean blood in my veins,” he adds. A pas­sion for beauty and a ded­i­ca­tion to el­e­gant, time­less forms are mu­tual val­ues that Molteni&c | Dada and the ar­chi­tect share, which has made the col­lab­o­ra­tion a fruit­ful one so far. With four booths, two show­rooms— the most re­cent be­ing the brand’s new flag­ship store in Mi­lan—and a solid de­sign di­rec­tion, Van Duy­sen shares the no­table points of the part­ner­ship and what else they have in store.

How does it feel to be part of the Molteni&c | Dada fam­ily?

When they ap­proached me to be cre­ative di­rec­tor in 2016, it was a true hon­our. As an ar­chi­tect, I con­cen­trate on cre­at­ing at­mos­pheres and spa­ces with peo­ple at the core. The DNA of the brand is all about cre­at­ing beauty with the well-be­ing of peo­ple in mind. The com­mon ground and chem­istry were there right from the be­gin­ning and, look­ing at the achieve­ments in the past year, I feel it’s been a suc­cess so far. It has been a re­ally con­struc­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion—i put a smile on their faces and like­wise they put one on mine. And it’s only the be­gin­ning.

As cre­ative di­rec­tor of Molteni&c | Dada, what’s your vi­sion for the brand this year?

My vi­sion is to cre­ate a new Molteni Home. Space, light and a strong con­nec­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment are key el­e­ments that are im­por­tant to me as an ar­chi­tect, and also what we wanted to re­flect in the Salone del Mo­bile booth as well as the show­rooms. For the booth, we made small changes, such as adding green­ery—in­spired by the court­yards and pri­vate gar­dens you see in Mi­lan—and worked with a land­scape ar­chi­tect to bring a Mediter­ranean feel to the space. We also put wooden beams on the ceil­ing of the booth, a twist that you’ll see in our ad­ver­tise­ments. New colours, based on the work of tex­tile de­signer Marta Ferri and the in­put of Gi­u­lia Molteni, also help add life and warmth.

“Pure” is a word many use to de­scribe your work. Do you agree with this as­so­ci­a­tion?

Yes, I do like pu­rity of form and for my work to have in­tegrity. There is a con­ser­va­tive part in my think­ing; I’m not the type who likes hype, spec­ta­cle or any­thing in your face. De­con­struct­ing and rein­ter­pret­ing classical forms is some­thing I like do­ing, but al­ways with re­spect in mind. For ex­am­ple, with a sofa, I would only play with sub­tle things like stitch­ing and the di­men­sions. Ul­ti­mately, my goal is to cre­ate things for oth­ers, not for my­self.

The hu­man el­e­ment is paramount to your work. What are some spa­ces that best em­body this?

Given my hec­tic travel sched­ule, the spa­ces that speak to me the most are ho­tel rooms. I’ve had my own room at The Mercer Ho­tel in New York since its open­ing, while in Mi­lan, I al­ways stay at the same cor­ner room at the Park Hy­att. It over­looks the Gal­le­ria Vit­to­rio Emanuele II, which is like a liv­ing paint­ing; I like see­ing the city wake up and fall asleep. I guess it’s about find­ing com­fort in a space. It might be cliché, but the best ex­am­ple I can think of is my own home in An­twerp. It’s a place where I can re­ally calm down. At work, I al­ways think of how to cre­ate sen­sual, tac­tile spa­ces, so it’s equally im­por­tant to have a space that calms down the senses. That, for me, is my own home.

THIS PAGE Ar­chi­tect Vin­cent Van Duy­sen; the ad­di­tion of wooden beams in this space helps to calm the senses; the D.151.4 chair by Gio Ponti

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