No matter the scale of your projects, you always approach them as if they were an exercise in sculpture. Everything you create has that object air about it. Even the Obumex signature kitchen is more furniture than a cooking laboratory.
The obumex kitchen is a functional sculpture. Not just a place for cooking, it is also a multifunctional furniture item that can be used as a wine or coffee bar, a china cabinet, and, at the same time, a room divider. Its form is inspired by the Regard lamp I created for Kreon: a rectangular volume with a crossbar inserted into it. The split in the vertical element is reminiscent of Oscar Niemeyer’s National Congress Building in Brasilia. Usually, kitchens are compositions of horizontal workbenches. The eye-catcher in my kitchen is a vertical column clad with natural stone and split in two; one part for the door handle, the other for the tap. The column also houses a cocktail bar with wine cooler on one side, and a coffee or tea cabinet on the other. Like a contemporary sculpture, the cabinets seem to float around the column, even though in reality they rest on a black base. With its massive, vertical size, the column functions as a virtual partition, almost turning the kitchen into a separate room offering you needed privacy.
You’re also active as a retail architect. You’ve designed, among others, boutiques and mono-brand stores for Verso, Renaissance, Coccodrillo, Rio, and Hieronymous. Doesn’t their temporary character bother you?
Retail architecture is known for its volatility. The best designs can last for tens of seasons. A shop that stays the same for a long time works like a logo: you create recognisability and familiarity. Take our verso design: after all these years, its look and style still stand their own. Many fashion brands often change their mono-brand stores because they get new artistic directors. And, of course, they all want to express their views on the shop interiors.
Do you approach a boutique in a radically different way from how you would a home?
I actually design a boutique exactly the way I would a home. Whether I’m designing a showcase, a checkpoint, or a kitchen, there’s no real difference. We just get carte blanche more often than for shops. Clients decide faster, the results may be a tad more extreme, for the very reason that they don’t have to live here. A boutique must have homely qualities, in my opinion. You want to be able to look around with ease; the circulation has to remain logical. But the service has to be hotel quality. When our firm is commissioned to do a home, clients often say, ‘We certainly don’t want to live in a shop.’ In reality, it’s the other way around: today’s glamorous shops are inspired by luxury homes from the inter-war period. These boutiques are expressly designed to give you a homely feeling. There’s room to read, to have a drink, even to look at art.