Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel are the founders of Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, a multi-interdisciplinary studio that works across the fields of architecture, interior and product design. Working internationally, developing complex projects of varying scales, from hotels and offices, to commercial complexes and showrooms, their most recent venture has been growing the Bulgari hotel chain, with the breath-taking Bulgari Resort & Residences Dubai, a true ‘urban oasis’.
How did your passion for architecture begin?
ANTONIO: In principle, for me it was a natural choice because I grew up with my father creating furniture, and I started working with my father before going to the school of art near my family village, and things went from there.
Do you remember your first job?
ANTONIO: Yes, it was when I was 15 years old and a furniture supplier came to me with a lot of small pieces of offcut material asking me to do something with them, I made a pouffe.
PATRICIA: I was very much interested in imagining spaces from a young age, and my first project was a house for a puppet made from paper boxes.
How would you describe your design approach?
PATRICIA: We have been educated to be very much inclusive in our process. It is not only about architecture, but also landscape, social needs, aesthetics, and taste. So, it is important for us to understand the context, and we go very deeply into the needs and demands.
How challenging is it to work together?
ANTONIO: We started to work together when Patricia came into my office in 1984, so we have had a long relationship. It was also a strategy to grow the company and I needed a partner to help me with this. We have worked together for many years, following the same path, although we have a different approach.
How would you describe each other?
ANTONIO: The Boss.
PATRICIA: A Master
Looking back in history, do you have an idol in the design world?
PATRICIA: I do not think that an architect can be an idol for anyone. However, all my favourite artists are dead, but I think that there is some thinking that is very interesting, but I don’t believe that this is the time for great masters.
Talking about the Bulgari Dubai project specifically, how long did it take to execute?
PATRICIA: 4 years of design and 2 and a half years to build.
How would you describe it?
ANTONIO: It is an urban oasis.
How has the Dubai culture inspired and influenced this project?
PATRICIA: We are doing the Bulgari hotels in locations that are attractive to the Bulgari tribe. So, we must somehow be respectful of the culture, but also must understand that now there is an overall global way of life, and we need the finished product to be appealing for everyone. With this property in Dubai, sun is an important aspect. The country is blessed with a lot of sun and we have played with it so that the project really connects with the place.
Which of your projects are you proudest of?
PATRICIA: For me, it is the Ermenegildo Zegna group headquarters in Milan, because it is exactly what I mean by doing something very bright, it is something we did for the brand but also for the city.
ANTONIO: It is the Technogym Village in Cesena, Italy.
Do you have a personal motto?
PATRICIA: I wouldn’t say it is a motto, but every morning I tell myself to try and come home early!
What things do you hate the most?
ANTONIO: Extravagance, and people wanting to show off.
Is there a book you are reading right now?
PATRICIA: I’m trying to read books in English, so I can learn more words.
Do you enjoy music?
PATRICIA: Yes, I am always using Shazam to find the names of the music I hear around me, and I am currently a big fan of Ed Sheeran.
What is something that you will promise yourself to do in 2018?
ANTONIO: To do less!
PATRICIA: I am the opposite and think that I should do more!
If you weren’t who you were today, what would you be?
ANTONIO: I would have a job without responsibility.
PATRICIA: I think I would be a writer.
Where do you see the design direction going in 2018?
ANTONIO: I think that people increasingly understand that their apartment is a private space, and they will think more about their real life rather than something for show.
What is your response to social media?
PATRICIA: We have no relationship with social media!
How would you describe Dubai?
ANTONIO: Normal, but with a high perception of quality.
What can we expect in 2018 from you?
PATRICIA: Many other exciting projects, but mostly high rise.
By Lara Mansour Sawaya