9/11 also destroyed design
by Nancy Jehmlich | Feb 6, 2009
Matteo Thun

It is raining outside. The entire roof patio is almost flooded. Let's hope that the architect Matteo Thun would never have made the mistake of designing a roof area with no slope. Meanwhile, he is talking about his first encounter with Parador, a flooring company - about the "men in black", the "Stalinist conversation" and about skirting being a lie. Most of all, however, he is talking about the bad experiences he has had with laminate flooring: It swells, is imprecise and trying to be something that it is not. Setting new standards, laminate floors by Parador intend changing precisely this. Their high quality is guaranteed by different quality seals. It is still raining. Inspired by the steady dripping, Matteo Thun tells us of a hotel project where "artificial water noise must be generated to counteract the noise from the bottom of the valley."

The Laminate Edition 1 by Parador has taken laminate out of the unpopular niche of imitation wood and parquet flooring and, to a certain extent, has made it independent. What was your particular interest in devising different floor designs for the Parador project?
Matteo Thun: I am interested in wood as a material that has a tactile surface quality, and in producing the additional benefit of the open cell character on an industrial scale.

Ten years ago, you were designing carpets for Vorwerk. In what way has the role of the designer changed since then?
Thun: The role of the designer has not changed in the sense that I never was one in the first place. I am an architect. I cannot provide any answers as to what design is.

Well, then a question for the architect Matteo Thun: The heyday of carpet flooring seems to be over for the time being. Can you predict what the next ten years are going to be like?
Thun: I think that we are going through a phase of deregulation. We can no longer talk in terms of mega trends, nor in terms of cycles. The use of the most diverse materials is being pulverised. But one thing is certain - nowadays, sustainability and our beliefs in aesthetic and technical stability are more important than ever before. When I was designing my first carpet collection for Vorwerk, together with other artists - this was in 1990 or perhaps even a few years earlier -, we were still living in a time where pop culture prevailed all around the world. Some people really enjoyed this superficial consumerism. This has changed since 9/11.

How do you mean?
Thun: 9/11 woke us from our nirvana of consumption, from our superficial lust of buying without thinking whether something was necessary or not. For a short period, both the North American and Central American civilisations were put on hold. And hopefully, we have emerged from this shock experience purified enough - and I sincerely believe this - to enter a fantastic phase of reflection and sustainability by the end of 2009.

Don't you also believe that influences such as climate change and globalisation are playing a central role here?
Thun: As architects, it is our duty to deal with sustainability in both technical and aesthetic terms. As for myself, I follow the motto "low tech by high tech". In other words, by combining the simplest form of technology with the use of complex ones, being able to pass on our planet Earth to our children such that it will not continue to deteriorate until the point of no return is reached. This is what I mean by sustainability. It means that more than ever before, we as architects have a responsibility, and we are definitely not going to fulfil this responsibility through technical escalation.

You say that "a floor design can only be good if it corresponds to the function of the room". What room functions do you have in mind for your floor designs?
Thun: Always an emotional one, an optical one. True to Goethe's maxim: "Seeing with your fingertips, grasping with your eyes". Sensoriality is in the foreground, and the function of sensoriality is synonymous with aesthetics today.

Parador has a wide range of different designs on offer. Do you believe that the world needs such an amount of individualism?
Thun: It is not a question of whether the world needs individualism but of how many fantastic essences grow from the soil; how many different trees can we use in terms of sustainability without interrupting the process of regrowth.

To what extent can a designer influence not only a product's surface but also improve the product with regard to its properties?
Thun: That is the central theme. More than ever before, the collaboration with Parador, with a highly professional team of technical experts, is all about problem solving, for example, with regard to grooving, skid resistance and, last but not least, a very exciting topic that Parador has made a priority for itself - the use of wood outside.

In architecture, one has to opt for or against context. Does the same apply to flooring?
Thun: It is still vital to understand the genius loci, the soul of a place - this is an architect's task. It could also be called the maieutics of the wood, from the Greek for "giving birth", to understand which wood belongs to which place.

Experts are currently debating the ornament's raison d'être. You are more inclined towards functional design. Do you believe that beauty belongs to function?
Thun: I cannot answer this question. Aesthetics is a very subjective field. Beauty - and this is the only thing I believe in - is just as essential as food and drink.

For which construction projects will you be using your flooring?
Thun: A lot. For the future, I am hoping to find a problem solver with Parador who can deliver floors, walls and ceilings all from a single source. And all of it with the same sensoriality I encountered when I got to know Parador, and which I then even used to provoke them. Today, I am really surprised that after a little less than a year of technical development, all our problems have been solved.

Matteo Thun
Laminat Edition 1 WOOD MEMORY 1 by Matteo Thun for Parador
Parador product galerie
Parador Laminat Edition 1 exhibition
Parador Trendcenter
Parador Trendcenter