What: Coffeehouse Klein und Kaiserlich Where: Hamburg – Hafencity I…
Who: Davide Rizzo – Architect
Where: Berlin – Mitte
Russia’s four richest families count to his clients, he has jobs in London, Tel Aviv and Cannes. His clientele is internationally spread, so that the Swiss architect Davide Rizzo constantly jets around the whole world even though he is frightened of flying. Born in Milan, Davide grew up in Lugano where he studied architecture and design. Followed by a year in Tokyo where he worked for an architecture bureau, he then changed to New York to the Metropolitan Opera to create stage settings. In the beginning of the 90s – the start of the Berlin-Boom – he then decided to go to Germany, also to learn the language. In the Neue Schönhauser Allee – in the centre of hip Berlin Mitte – Davide Rizzo now works with his ten employees. Creaking stairs lead to the first floor of a typical Berlin old building into a bureau that has nothing in common with a cliché-minimalistic architect’s office.
MyStylery: Your office looks like it’s your own living room.
Davide Rizzo: I don’t like those sterile think tanks with their white walls, where there’s not even a comfy chair to sit on. Our client comes in and already feels home. And this also counts for my employees and myself.
MS: You’re working a lot in Russia. An office in Moscow would make sense, wouldn’t it?
DR: Well no! I’m so happy that I only have to visit Russia once in a month. I need the gap. In cities like New York, Los Angeles and Moscow the clients expect kind of a constant presence. I permanently have to entertain them, take them out for dinner, have to be reachable… This is too exhausting for my liking. Therefore Berlin is like a great safe heaven for myself with the option to equally turn my back on it.
MS: You employ ten staff members, each with a speciality whether draft, advice, design, art. You even have an expert for the selection of your fabrics. This seems like an elaborate customer service!
DR: Yes, my clients are sophisticated. Nobody wants something others already got. This makes our service very intense and we always have a lot to do. It’s very extreme in Russia. There they sometimes don’t even ask for prices. Luckily the Russians are more cultivated nowadays.
MS: How does the current political crisis affect the consumer behaviour in Russia?
DR: The rich prefer London now, as they don’t pay lots of taxes for their wealth. For me this is great because I’m internationally recommended. My clients all know each other, no matter whether they live by the Cote d’Azur or in Miami. Often it feels like I’m a family member that accompanies all projects for years: first I design the villas, then the yachts and afterwards the private jets.
MS: You created shop concepts for L’oréal and Aveda, a series of glasses for Seguso, kitchen grips for Siematic. Which part of the current orders tempts you?
DR: Each order is a new challenge. Some jobs are so comprehensive that the clients want me to produce everything individually, including bedding and cutlery. We offer an all around service. For a Spanish client we just built a house in London with five thousand square meters of living area. Its neighbourhood is prominent: Elton John lives on the left, Gianna Nannini on the right. The house facades look like townhouses, they’re all identical. But inside is everything allowed. We even needed a whole floor just for the technology of the house! Now my clients are happy and their children don’t have to be flown in for their ballet lessons.
MS: Your job seems to require lots of instinctive feelings and sensitivity.
DR: Right (laughs). For example in the beginning a client, with whom I planned his house, always came to me with his beloved, until his wife came right afterwards. A huge drama; everything needed to be changed. Simultaneously I’m a therapist and an architect. Recently I came to a construction area and was looking for my construction plans, which usually hang on the wall. I found them on the toilette, cut in stripes for other usages. I didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh. BvH
Neue Schönhauser Straße 2
*copyright by Davide Rizzo