Awards, recognition and countless projects including forty hotels, over fifty restaurants and an ever-growing number of spas, boutiques and luxury facilities. Over just 40 years, Studio Simonetti () has gained its place in the architecture and interior design Olympus, mainly thanks to the founder Massimo Simonetti.
Let’s go back to the start. What made your successful splendid career begin?
«Passion, the very same feeling that still drives my creativity and choices, as well as a little luck, as I’ve been lucky to meet clients who understood and supported my talent. Their trust has been reflected in my results. In the Seventies – such a long time ago – I launched my studio by dealing mainly with industrial design; after several work experiences I decided to deal with interior design too. This led to many different works in the entertainment, retail and food & beverage field: we developed many new concepts such as Italy&Italy, the first fast food chain in Italy characterized by a national feel. Such projects made the studio quickly get closer to the hospitality field, and today – after 40 years of business – our portfolio includes over 40 hotels and more than 3000 rooms».
What’s your attitude when starting a new hotel project?
«Thanks to our expertise we now think of a new hotel as a machine that needs to be accurately perfected in order to work perfectly. This is our first aim. The second phase involves a decoration that has to be consistent with the style we chose for the project».
Who were your role models back in the days?
«Many professionals, especially those with a specific style, willing to fight for their ideas and integrity, like Frank Lloyd Wright or Le Courbusier, for instance».
1999 marked a turning point: your Xelle chair competed for the Catas award with the contest winning Maxima chair; meanwhile your Aquilante table competed for the Compasso d’Oro...
«I find design fascinating because it’s made out of tiny details which actually affect the whole result. We’ve been working on industrial design since forever and in 1999 Maxima won the Catas award as the most innovative and trustworthy seat of the year: it was part of an original chair and table collection combining technology with a medieval look. The tech side was embodied by “Maxisystem”, an innovative method to link legs and arms without weld joints. The medieval side lied in the look of the seatback with helmet-shaped slots. Xelle was all about big proportions and aluminum tubes, whilst Aquilante was a linear table with an aluminum structure allowing to add feet based on the table size».
How would you describe your team?
«It’s a multidisciplinary group joined by architects, designers, surveyors and so on… we have miscellaneous ideas and attitudes, yet we share the very same experience and philosophy, especially when it comes to starting a new project, which always leads to the discussion of its guidelines with me».
Is there a dream-project you would like to accomplish?
«A new hotel concept enriched by new technologies in order to best engage clients. Booking, check-in and check-out, breakfast and other services can be managed independently via smartphone, with just one supervisor. The concept is already finished, we are waiting for a hotel chain willing to develop it».
Which project best satisfied you?
«We built excellent 5 star hotel from scratch in amazing locations, however what I like the most is turning exquisite buildings into luxury hotels. I’m talking about historic buildings, cloisters, firm headquarters: in order to turn them into hotels you need to develop a thorough project aimed at preserving the original feel of the place. The San Clemente Palace Hotel&Resort 5 star luxury facility by The Leading Hotels of the World, for instance, lies on a 65.000 square meter private isle in Venice: we created 205 rooms, 3 restaurants, one American bar, a boutique, a spa, a congress centre and a outdoor pool. We opted for a classic Venetian style to stress the location’s identity, therefore the rooms feature furniture, palettes and fabrics inspired by doges, merchants, nobles, navigators. The construction part was an extraordinary experience because we were building something unique: we spent several years going back and forward, willing to come back over and over again».
What about your upcoming projects?
«We are working on renovating and restyling several four and five star facilities, as well as developing retail and Spa projects. Despite Italy features too many hotels which don’t fit the standards, we’ve witnessed a new trend in the hospitality field aimed at responding to the physical needs of the client, for instance by offering a Spa. This led us to design private spas within the suites as well as spas that can be enjoyed by the hotel clients’ only or by passer-bys too. They will include fitness and relax areas, multi-sensory paths, therapy rooms and so on, each featuring cutting-edge materials to suit the highest standards».
GOLDEN PALACE, Torino: Robert Emmet Bright e Alessandro de Crignis
BENTLEY, Genova (ora Melià Genova): Saverio Lombardi Vallauri
GRAND HOTEL COURMAYEUR MONT BLANC, Courmayeur: © Diego De Pol su gentile concessione di Sviluppo Relais du Mont Blanc S.p.A.