Creativity is the buzzword for italian architect Piero Lissoni


By Anannya Sarkar
  • Published 11.12.17
Piero Lissoni during his talk at the Vis A Vis Experience Centre in New Delhi

Some of the top hotels around the globe bear his signature touch as well as something as small as an espresso machine. Which speaks volumes about what Italian designer Piero Lissoni’s passion is — constantly pushing the boundaries of creation. This New York Interior Design Hall of Fame-inductee with a degree in architecture spoke to t2 on the sidelines of a talk organised by Vis A Vis, a Delhi-based avant-garde lighting solutions company, in collaboration with furniture and light design brands B&B Italia and Flos, in New Delhi.

You have specialised in architecture, interiors, landscape, furniture.... Which has been closest to your heart?

It is impossible to pick one. In Italy, to be an architect means to be able to design on many scales. I like to be an architect when I design buildings, I like to be an architect when I design landscape, I like to be an architect when I design objects, I like to be an architect even when I am making industrial designs. It’s not possible to dismantle myself. Sometimes when I am designing something technological or something with a human touch, I like to be a designer. But one day later, I am again an architect. You have to be a little schizophrenic to be able to do all of this and that is the trick. 

The bedroom of the Dutch Suite of the Elephanta Suite at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai, which were redesigned by Piero in 2010  

If you had to pick one project that you’re proud of, which one would that be?

Every time I finish a project, I feel like starting again. If there’s a reset button, I would press it. They’re all pieces of my heart but at the same time, I hate them. You have to keep improving, so I don’t have favourites. 

Which is your favourite part of your own house?

My house in Milan is at the centre of the city, at the top of a building that overlooks a number of beautiful gardens and has big windows. The favourite part of my house depends on my mood. I like the sitting area because it has a lot of books, I like the kitchen when I am in one of my rare moods to cook and I like the bedroom because it can be a great playground (laughs). 

The living room of the Elephanta Suite at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai, which were redesigned by Piero in 2010  

You worked on The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai in 2010. Tell us about your experience.

We did two Grand Luxury Suites and one Luxury Suite there. The project had actually started before the terrorist attack in 2008 and then we did the renovation of the same wing in 2010. 

Mr (Ratan) Tata had asked me to design something a little contemporary with a lot of Indian touch. So I tried to work with Indian workers and artisans, and used a lot of glass and metal — a European approach in an Indian capacity. 

What are the latest design trends that India needs to catch up on?

I don’t believe in trends. However, India needs to discover and trust a new generation of designers. An Indian designer whom I really like is Bijoy Jain (inset) who founded Studio Mumbai and does incredible work. He has brought in a new level of architectural creativity to India with his perfect fusion of East and West, without going overboard with the latter. 

Piero Lissoni flanked by Hardeep (left) and Amit Gupta of Vis A Vis. True to his reputation of being a sport, Piero not only tried on the turban but also posed in it

If you had to pick one design or architectural element from India, what would that be?

I like the vibrancy of Indian temples. All the sculptures are so animated and beautiful! I especially like some of the temples in Kerala. I loved Jaisalmer for its architecture as well. 

Which is your favourite Indian city?

I liked Jaisalmer a lot and I had visited it a long time ago. I love travelling and not staying put in fancy touristy places. Jaisalmer reminds me of Venice, without the canals. I would love to go back. 

One of Lissoni’s stunning projects: The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah in Ajman


An app that you love: Google Maps because it helps me travel without physically doing so. 

Favourite hotel: Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze in Florence, Conservatorium Hotel in
Amsterdam and the The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah in Ajman are all lovely.

Cities that appeal to your aesthetics: Tokyo, New York, Venice, sometimes Paris and London.

If you weren’t a designer of spaces and products, what would you be? 
A fashion designer or a ski teacher. 

Favourite slopes to ski on? Europe and even Japan. I want to try the Himalayan slopes though, by jumping onto them from a helicopter! 

What’s your favourite thing to do in India? 
I like walking around and discovering the beauty of the people on the streets. The ladies are beautiful and they have a light in their eyes. 

Favourite Indian food: Except garlic and meat, I am good with everything. I love samosas.

A celebrity whose house you admire: The Pope’s house. I prefer celebrities like that, who are more important than the actual ones. 

One word to describe yourself: Stupid. Maybe ‘human’ too.