The designer and architect Matthew Thun is 70 years old

DrIter Rams is said to have quickly withdrawn his hand when he realized who he was about to get rid of – Matteo Thun. This is how Thun himself described the meeting between the designers in Frankfurt. It must have happened in 2010, when a large exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts was devoted to rams. Thon returned the favor a year later. In an interview, he said that his emotional attachment to the Braun Rams alarm clock is like having a “dead gray rat that wakes me every morning.”

Such an aggressive statement, also wrapped in a quirky image, is unusual for Thon, who navigates the world in a friendly and elegant manner. lead to the beginning of his career. It began in 1980, when South Tyrol – whose real name is Mateus Antonius Maria Graf von Thun und Hohenstein – as a member of the Memphis group, turned away from post-war jobs, of which the most important representative was Ramez, who was twenty years old. first. Thun and his colleagues brought postmodernism into design: they designed brightly colored objects such as shelves, cups, and espresso machines whose form was derived from function. According to Thun, the Rams was also invited to the premiere of French Memphis in Milan, but he did not attend.

A busy star, a humble designer, and a professional pilot

Memphis represented the entry of fantasy, irony and imagination into design. Thun’s design of a rod vase called Danubio was the culmination of the designer’s range of design excesses. Its head was Ettore Sotsas, for whom Thon began working after studying art and architecture. He did so without pay, making a living as a pilot for small planes that would fly advertising banners behind them. Sotsas later divorced, allegedly because Thon got married. Sotsas is said to have said the husband could not function properly. Thon learned to deal confidently with this setback. To this day, he describes his mentor as the absolute all-encompassing genius. I have learned everything from him.

Matthew Thon chair designs


Matthew Thon chair designs
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Photo: Marco Bertolini, 2016 / Matteo Thun & Associates, 2016

An athletic, energetic, and adventurous man, Thon left Memphis after only four years. This was followed by a phase of life in the service of others. For several years he was chief designer at watch manufacturer Swatch, something he is ashamed of today because he is responsible for many tons of plastic waste. The designer, who still works without a computer to this day, made another turn around the year 2000, leaving behind the world of mass production and colorful provocations. He intensified his commitment to traditional craftsmanship and sustainability in the motto “No Design”. His designs for products ranging from spoons to shop fixtures are no longer labeled as such; Thon rejects the hype around star designers. However, he does so from a privileged position: clients who wish to decorate themselves in his name ensure that his creations are recognized as such.

In terms of style, Thon, who flexibly adapts to the demands of clients with about eighty employees in his Milan studio, now tends to be more conservative, in classic shapes and restrained colours. The world had visually become too noisy for him. In recent years, he has emerged as an architect, especially in hotels, clinics and holiday homes, preferably in a circular shape with a wooden facade. The target group is customers who prefer discreet luxury that promises an eco-lifestyle without sacrificing comfort. Thune turns 70 on Friday.

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