interview with arthur mamou-mani ahead of milan design week

following collaborations with phillip k smith III, studio swine, and sou fujimoto, international fashion brand COS will team up with arthur mamou-mani at this year’s milan design week. as part of the event, the london-based french architect will create a digitally fabricated pavilion that will guide visitors through the courtyard and into the adjacent gardens of palazzo isimbardi, the 16th-century palace that hosted phillip k smith III’s atmospheric ‘open sky’ sculpture last year. intriguingly, the structure will be created using open-source software that explores the potential of parametric design.


ahead of the unveiling of arthur mamou-mani’s much-anticipated design, we spoke with the architect about his background and upbringing, the evolution of his work, and how he feels about the future of the profession. read the interview in full below, and preview the COS installation as part of designboom’s previous coverage here.

arthur mamou mani interview
arthur mamou-mani will team up with COS for the 2019 edition of milan design week
image by thomas lohr (also main image)



designboom (DB): what is the best moment of the day?


arthur mamou-mani (AM-M): there are so many things happening, I like when I have a moment for myself in the office around the afternoon. by that point I’m awake and finding my cruising speed. I get a lot of things done when I’m in that mode.

arthur mamou mani interview
the temporary structure will be built using bio-plastic created with 3D printing
image by thomas lohr



DB: what aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your creative principles and philosophies?


AM-M: my parents. they are really interesting people. my dad was a computer scientist and my mum was very much into environmental causes. together they created book called ‘life in green’, where they tried to reconciliate their ‘hippy’ aspect and their business aspect, from woodstock to wall street. they taught me how to have an ethical view of the world.

arthur mamou mani interview
the sprawling ‘galaxia’ temple was created for the 2018 edition of burning man
image by alex medina



DB: what are the creative strategies you adopt when working?


AM-M: I think being iterative – the idea that a design does not just come like that. it comes from iterating between versions. it takes a lot of listening, being aware of what you’re doing and of the constraints that you’re dealing with, and then using them as an opportunity to design.

arthur mamou mani interview
‘galaxia’ is shaped of 20 timber trusses converging as a spiral towards one point in the sky
image by alex medina



DB: how would you describe your architecture to someone you just met?


AM-M: I would say we use technology to create a new kind of craftmanship.

arthur mamou mani interview
‘tangential dreams’ was presented at burning man 2016



DB: how do you view the evolution of your work since you first started your practice?


AM-M: I think consistently using technology to prove that craftmanship can grow into large scale buildings. the architect as a maker, is something that is hard to prove at first but has evolved into something critical.

arthur mamou mani interview
a column for ‘cloud capsule’ being printed on site
image by andrei jipa



DB: where do you like to work on your projects?


AM-M: we have created a little workshop at our studio in london because we want to be able to make the things we design. it’s great to see our designs come to life here but it’s also extremely important to be on site when building our projects.

arthur mamou mani interview
some projects involve hundreds of 3D-printed modules



DB: what are you afraid of regarding the future? what are you optimistic about?


AM-M: I am very afraid about the sustainability of our world, but I am positive that all of the steps we are taking in global awareness is heading in the right direction.

arthur mamou mani interview
the polibot at the soane
image by tom ryley



DB: what boundaries are you trying to break or what goal are you working towards right now?


AM-M: I am trying to break this idea that temporary, small scale structures are not architecture. I want to break the boundaries between architects, contractors and engineers. 

arthur mamou mani interview
the DNA blockchain — an adaptive skyscraper

nina azzarello I designboom

apr 02, 2019

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