Adam D. Tihany and Matteo Vercelloni

Professional in Cultural Heritage Design.

About Adam D. Tihany and Matteo Vercelloni

  • Winner of Cultural Heritage Design Award.
  • Specialized in Cultural Heritage Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Cultural Heritage
CoDe Italian Design Museum

CoDe Italian Design Museum

Cultural Heritage Design


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Interview with Adam D. Tihany and Matteo Vercelloni

Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I have always kept a very small design studio of no more than 15 people in New York. This atelier model allows me to remain at the creative head, closely involved in the development of every project rather than in the management of people. We operate in a niche segment of the high-end international luxury hospitality market including resorts, hotels and restaurants. The cruise industry is relatively new for our firm, but it has become an important part of our business, along with very high-end luxury residential condominiums. For over 40 years, the studio has maintained a boutique, craftsman-like approach to creating innovative and timeless hospitality interiors at some of the most iconic properties around the world and at sea. - Adam D. Tihany
When do you feel the most creative?
In its essence, design is the solution to a problem. I have found that the greater the challenges presented, the more creative and- often times daring- the solution. This is especially the case when working on cruise ship interiors, where movement and vibrations are a part of the basic functionality of the ship, the ceilings are low, and everything is in steel, meaning no moving an outlet at the last minute. The challenges become the launching pad for creativity.- Adam D. Tihany
What makes a design successful?
One of the most valuable truths I learned early on is the importance of telling a good story. A dynamic narrative is what transforms a beautiful space into an experience that is engaging, meaningful and – most importantly- memorable. - Adam D. Tihany
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Milton Glaser said that there are three responses to a piece of design – good, bad, and WOW. We always say that Wow is the one to aim for. It’s that extra something that surprises, delights and leaves you wanting more. And in the long run, Timelessness. A project that remains living and relevant for a very long time. - Adam D. Tihany
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
These days, there is a much higher premium on good design as people are recognizing the important role it plays across the board in our lives. People are more aware of design than ever and it has infiltrated almost every industry. The more we consume, the more we demand- and the more sophisticated we become. Design has become not only an expectation, but a point of judgement. This is good news for designers and good news for the hospitality world because we don’t have to reinvent the services that exist; we can reinvent the design. It is an exciting time to be a creative person. - Adam D. Tihany
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
The secret to tapping into inspiration is to never stop learning; never hold back on curiosity. The world is an endless resource for creativity and often times it is the unexpected discoveries that will take you the farthest. - Adam D. Tihany
Can you talk a little about your design process?
One of the core principles of my design philosophy is to ensure that every project is distinct and site specific. We go to great lengths to fully understand the location of each project, its culture and its people, so that our design narrative will incorporate the true character of the place. It is my belief that if you are checking into a hotel or dining out anywhere in the world, you should know where you are at all times. The distinction is a whispered element that roots a place to its location. - Adam D. Tihany
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Listen first and completely. Tell their story, not your own. Look past the computer screen- explore, discover and never stop learning. - Adam D. Tihany
Who are some of your clients?
We work with a number of luxury hospitality brands including Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Dorchester, Oberoi and Belmond. On the cruise front, our longtime relationship with Carnival Corporation has resulted in the creation of the complete interiors for Seabourn Encore and Ovation (and Seabourn Venture, expedition ship upcoming) and public spaces for Holland America’s Pinnacle Class. I’m currently serving as Creative Director for the Italian cruise line Costa Cruises as well as the iconic British line Cunard. I’ve also designed many signature restaurants for celebrity chefs including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Heston Blumenthal, Wolfgang Puck and Richard Ekkebus. - Adam D. Tihany

Extended Interview with Adam D. Tihany and Matteo Vercelloni

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
My professional life began in Italy. When I arrived in Milano, I had very little knowledge of design and architecture, and at that point had barely traveled outside of my home country of Israel. In Milan, a lifelong passion was ignited and my studies and experiences there shaped my philosophy on design- and life, for that matter. I’m an Italian designer, which is really how I was able to start my career in New York. At the time there was a high demand for European style, especially in shops, bars and nightclubs. From Israel to Italy to New York, I became an American with an Italian design sensibility – and that much has never changed. - Adam D. Tihany
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
My passion is rooted in hospitality and my craft is design. There is no one aspect that is preferred over another. The best projects always begin with good clients, with a working relationship built on mutual respect, trust and excitement for the project. I enjoy working on projects where we can be part of the conceptual team and are given the freedom to design and control the entire experience - from the interior architecture down to the smallest details such as art, sound, smell, tableware, uniforms and graphics. With the recent launch of Tihany Product Design, I’ve gone back to my Milanese roots and am working with leading manufacturers to bring consumer products to market. While working with leading chefs and hoteliers around the world, we developed a strong knowledge of the ‘needs and wants’ of this industry, which we are now pairing with our strong design style and refined aesthetics to design new furniture, lighting, textiles, tableware and alike. - Adam D. Tihany
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
A good designer finds a solution to a challenge. A great designer does it in a way that goes beyond expectations. They surprise, delight and create something that will live on in the memory of all who experience it. - Adam D. Tihany
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Thinking about design can be hard, but not thinking about design can be a disaster. Design is everywhere and accessible to everyone, and the more we consume, the most sophisticated we become. Design is not only an expectation, but a point of judgement. It is how we present our ourselves, communicate and shape our world. - Adam D. Tihany
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
Having worked on projects on land and at sea, I’d love to design the world’s most luxurious airport lounges, connecting land to air. An amazing winery, a fantastic library and a cozy cinema are also on my wish list. - Adam D. Tihany
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
One of the most valuable truths I learned early on is the importance of telling a good story. A dynamic narrative is what transforms a beautiful space into an experience that is engaging, meaningful and – most importantly- memorable. - Adam D. Tihany
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
There are many who have inspired me and continue to do so at every stage of my career. Luis Barragan for his architecture of color, Gio Ponti for his imagination and style, Hertzog & DeMuron for their endless originality and Renzo Mongiardino for his craftsmanship. - Adam D. Tihany
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
If I had to start over again I will probably will try to become a jazz musician (Controbasso) - Adam D. Tihany
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
There have been many invaluable lessons along the way, and I’m happily still learning. The greatest takeaway over the years has been how to listen. This doesn’t always mean accepting what is at face value, either- it’s the ability to understand what is truly being said. Success is never a guarantee, but the start to every successful venture begins with the ability to listen. - Adam D. Tihany
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
We’re excited to see the opening of the Tihany redesigned restaurant at the top of the famous Space Needle in Seattle as well as the new Mandarin Oriental Bosphorous in Istanbul. At sea, Seabourn Venture, the first of the ultra-luxury brand’s expedition ships is scheduled to launch in 2021 and the new Cunard ship for which I’m serving as Creative Director is slated to debut in 2022. - Adam D. Tihany
What is your life motto as a designer?
Avoid anonymity. If a project doesn’t have a story behind it from the beginning, I create one. We go to great lengths to develop spaces that are more than just a beautiful place. Whether on a ship or at an intimate hotel bar, hospitality is fundamentally about people, and I create bespoke, living environments that are designed to cater to and inspire every person who enters. - Adam D. Tihany
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
I founded Tihany Design in 1978. After over 40 years, I appointed my first partner earlier this year. Alessia Genova has been my longtime collaborator and Studio Director and now is Managing Partner. Alessia and I share the same philosophies and goals for the studio. Our working relationship is intuitive, very collaborative and focused on the future. Together we guide and support the younger generation of designers and look to the next 40 years of collaboration, authentic creativity and attention to detail. - Adam D. Tihany

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