The dream structures

The dream structures

Well-known French architect Denis Montel was in the City recently for the opening of the Ganjam showroom on Vittal Mallya Road. The brain behind the well thought out building, Denis speaks about his journey as an architect and his vision behind the design of the store.

Did you always want to be an architect?
I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was younger. But when I was around 15 or 16 years, I knew that architecture was what I wanted to pursue. I wanted to be able to build something for today and tomorrow rather than look at buildings from the past.

Your most challenging project so far and why? 
We recently completed the construction of a mixed-use company campus near Paris. It’s a programme of 29,000 square per metre, which consists of four buildings revolving around different thematic gardens. We had to smoothly integrate the programme through a complex existing urban fabric and build contemporary buildings only linked by gardens.

The challenge here was to be relevant on different scales — urban, architectural and interior designing scale — in order to have a good dialogue and integration with the existing neighbourhood fabric, and to offer a high quality of life to the end users of the buildings.

Tell us about your Hermès (a popular boutique from Paris) designs and how it varies in different parts of the world.

Over the years, we have developed a real design language for Hermès. All the stores are different even though some key patterns, symbols and typology of the furniture link the projects together. The context is very important to the concept of each project and we like to find a local twist for each place. The Hermès brand is both classic and eccentric, so this mix is also something we search for in our design. We often work with artisanal stone, metal, fabric or plaster finishes that we use in a very contemporary way. The layout of the shops is rational, often orthogonal in order to be coherent, clear and easy to wander through for the client.

How do you translate particular themes into designs?
Themes are a guideline for conception — they give a foundation to ideas. The translation into shape or space, or even materiality, is never obvious. I don’t want the original theme to be obvious in the final result.

If you weren’t an architect, what would you have been?
My grandfather was a horse rider in a circus in Czechoslovakia. He was from a circus family, and this tradition was lost when he migrated to France. I must admit that I could have had a career in the circus had I not been an architect!
(As told to Anila Kurian)

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