Martina Meluzzi is a London-based architect. She founded Mai Studio in 2008 after training at Foster + Partners, where she became an Associate in 2003. With over 18 years’ experience in architectural design, she has been involved in numerous projects from private residential to mixed use developments, public venues, and infrastructure, always applying her signature aesthetic and clear design methodology. Her vision and commitment to design excellence are such that she is often invited by academic institutions to act as a guest lecturer or critic, as well as consulting for Foster + Partners on strategic, large-scale, residential projects and for projects in Italy. Martina is known as an amazing host among her friends. We sat down with her to hear her hosting tips and how architecture matters not only in what one sees but also the memory of what one has experienced.
mai-studio.com | @martina.meluzzi
Martina, you are an amazing host. Will you please share with us your hosting tips?
Thank you! Hosting is without doubt one of my favourite things. I am a perfectionist, so I like to think of every detail and make sure that the whole experience is exceptional. At the same time my style is laid back, my friends feel very much at home and behave naturally and independently around my house. It may sound contradictory… I suppose it’s the yin and yang of hospitality!
What is one of your favourite dishes to cook for your guests?
In the kitchen I like to improvise. My fridge is always full of seasonal products that come direct from local farmers. My larder is stocked with spices and seeds, and I like to cook with what I find. Most probably it will be pasta with lots of vegetables and crunchy nuts.
You go beyond just hosting your guests with a delicious meal and good atmosphere. You have designed and built your beautiful house in Sicily and give your friends and family a full experience. Please share with us your concept with which you approach your design work.
My design is about people and their emotions. It is about the experience and impact that architecture has in all senses. Therefore, when I design, I keep in mind many different aspects: the accents, the magnets, the calm, and the dynamic spaces, the introspective and the communal ones. The tension between those aspects generates a flow which is the essence of a space. I believe that to make a good design you must take a risk to be radical. Make a strong choice and mastermind the experience of the user, as opposed to giving infinite possibilities. I pursue comfort in equilibrium, stability, and clarity. There is a time, a place to savour everything and it doesn’t need to happen all at once.
How would you define architecture?
I believe that architecture is something that is perceived with all senses and the key element is the narrative and the experience. What matters is not only what you see but also the memory of what you have just experienced. What I pursue is harmony using geometry and light together to create depth and narrative.
Please name examples of your favourite buildings in the world
I like buildings that inspire contemplation. Amongst others, I love Louis Kahn, Tadao Ando, Alberto Campo Baeza, and John Pawson.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a meticulous observer of the world, I stare and absorb without a precise order, until suddenly my instinct takes over and I am ready to have my say. When this happens, I feel very determined and confident - like there is no other way. It would be easy if that instinct didn’t take me to many different places so very often... With the years I have learned to try to save the extra ideas for later and try to stick to one.
Is there anything you would like to achieve that you haven’t already?
I feel that my journey is just at the beginning, and I am quite excited at the prospect of what might come next. As an architect I would like to work on a sacred or spiritual building. Alongside architecture I would like to study botany and to learn how to DJ!
What inspires you in life?
Nature, without doubt.
Please share with us how you feel when wearing/using an OYUNA piece?
The first word that comes to my mind when I think of the OYUNA brand is organic. Wearing an OYUNA piece makes me feel more connected to nature.
To finish off, I have a few simple questions; you can reply with a word or a couple of words…
If I say blue, what comes to your mind?
Courage, determination, trust.
Nature. Natural materials. Geometrical order.