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Design Icon: Matteo Thun

Meet Matteo Thun, one of the most prominent voices in contemporary design, internationally renowned for his Italian style and his versatility as an architect and designer. Discover his selection of pieces designed for Memphis Milano, UpGroup and Horm, and read about the vision and approach of his studio with partner Antonio Rodriguez.

​Matteo Thun was born Bolzano in 1952, in the bilingual region of South Tyrol speaking German and Italian. Raised with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Thun family, he enrolled in the Salzburg Academy studying under prominent artist Oskar Kokoschka and Emilio Vedova, later graduating in 1975 in Architecture at the University of Florence.

In 1978, he moved to Milan where he met ​Ettore Sottsass, with whom he co-founded Sottsass Associati and the ​Memphis Group in 1981. Here, he gained prominence for his eclectic, disruptive designs that are already considered iconic in the design scene, such as his sculptural vases in total white. In 1984, after the experience with Memphis where he came in contact with other renowned Italian designers, he founded his own studio in Milan.

His solo experience with his own studio took off almost immediately, giving him the opportunity of working as an art director for Swatch from 1990 to 1993, and granting him a position as a professor of design and ceramics at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Later, his studio expanded into a multicultural architecture and design practice that today operates internationally developing hospitality, retail and urban design projects alongside product design.

Spanish designer Antonio Rodriguez joined Matteo Thun as a partner at the studio in 2003, bringing his timeless and clear style into the creation and shaping of iconic products and interior projects for a worldwide clientele.

Today, the office employs 70 experts from the fields of architecture, design and communication, a Thun's wife Susanne has been serving as the trend researcher for the business for over 30 years.

Matteo Thun has a unique take on design and architecture, a personal philosophy transversely applied to each of his creations, called Zero Design: valuing simplicity above everything else and rejecting design as an issue of taste, the strategy is based on researching iconic forms and translating them into works that can be understood intuitively, using common sense and a subconscious perception of beauty and elegance. His designs, such as the Memphis vases, carry elegance and essentialism in color and form, while being instantly recognizable.

His architectural works consequently prioritises aesthetic durability, technological longevity, and the future lifespan of buildings and structures. Of late, his works have strongly featured wellbeing as a core of his philosophy, combining a profound respect for a project’s soul and a sensitive approach to the client’s individuality.

With over 50 years of experience, Matteo Thun is truly an innovator and a staple of Italian design, and continues today to be one of the most prominent voices of contemporaneity and Made in Italy.

Only if you dare to do something new, to cross borders, you can experience new knowledge.

Villa Adriana in Zurich (CH), by Matteo Thun & Partners
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