Little Voyages of Discovery

An interview with Vienna-based interior designer Denis Kosutic about his many and varied sources of inspiration and his desire for new discoveries

Mr Kosutic, you made a name for yourself with unusual designs for shops and restaurants that combine purism with baroque elements and vibrant colours. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the things, people and events that surround us. Art, fashion, music or street life inspire me constantly, I often quote past eras and interpret associations that are very personal. Change and invention are always uppermost. I’ve always admired people who have never stood still, whose thoughts and works have developed in tune with the times and the spirit of the times – people who have reinvented themselves again and again. It might be a designer, an artist or some other creative person. I try to create an individual and international style that isn’t constrained by any predefined stylistic directions. Each and every one of my works is designed in a totally individual way – it is always tailored to the client rather than bowing to the latest tendencies. I want to make new discoveries, set trends and always be one step ahead. Our world is becoming increasingly global and design should be global too.

How have expectations of shop and restaurant design changed?
In recent years, people have become increasingly aware that their private life, their work, their free time – basically, everything that is part of their lives – is strongly influenced in either a positive or negative way by the spaces in which it takes place. As a result, the importance of design has become a fact. Shopping, dining or living in one’s own four walls is becoming an experience – and the designer plays a huge role in that. We teach people to feel good and wanted, we often take them on little voyages of discovery that make their everyday lives interesting and exciting – and make day-to-day life function more smoothly too. At the same time, the design of commercial spaces makes it possible to market the products better; in a broader sense, it makes it easier to sell them too – design is becoming an extremely important economic factor. That’s a huge development.

You’ve also designed several groups of serviced apartments – hotel-like flats spread throughout the city that can be rented for short-term stays. With this kind of accommodation, how important is branding on the one hand and individuality on the other?
Two factors play a crucial role in the planning of serviced apartments – creatively speaking, they have to be just as attractive as an excitingly designed hotel, and in functional terms they should satisfy all the requirements of a perfectly functioning home. As a result, these projects give rise to an interesting balance between commercial and home design. In most cases – in the course of a planning process that involves the client, graphic designers and marketing agencies – we develop the branding at the same time as the design, focusing on the target groups we want to address.

Do you see any relationships between the types of assignment we’ve been talking about? The transitions between living, working and leisure have become more fluid. Have our ideas about how we want to live changed as a result – especially with regard to architecture and design?
Nowadays people see and experience a huge amount of design and creativity in their everyday lives. They want to translate the ideas and inspiration they get from that into their home environment in a far more conscious way than before. Having said that, planning an apartment or a house is a very private, almost intimate thing. So the relationship with the client is always very close and personal. If a designer wants to plan an apartment well, he has to be familiar with the user’s way of life, his habits and even some of his secrets. That’s why, in a certain way, all apartments are an image of their user. All the functions have to be adapted to him – right down to the last detail – and the design is a mix of my visions, the client’s character and his potential for development as I’ve understood it. So it’s a genuine custom-made design.

Denis Kosutic studied architecture in Zagreb, Croatia, and Vienna, Austria. He has had his own studio in Vienna since 2002. His design language combines purism, retro elements, pop culture influences and individual branding to create a distinctive signature. The numerous internationally publicised designs he has implemented for shops, restaurants, hotel apartments and private homes have made him one of the most sought-after representatives of his discipline in Austria.

Source: Koelnmesse, reprint free of charge.