Alessia Genova started her career with Tihany Design in 2007, and after rising through the ranks to become a senior designer, then a Studio Director in 2017. Alessia Genova was named Managing Partner in early 2020, marking the start of a new chapter in the firm’s 42-year existence. Alessia gives a really global perspective and a unique creative outlook to every project. Her love for finding the story behind each design project and bringing the vision to life for clients drives her strength in concept and presentation development. The Oberoi New Delhi, Four Seasons Dubai DIFC, Amberat Landmark Mandarim Oriental Hong Kong, Bocuse at The Culinary Institute of America, Oro at the Belmond Cipriani in Venice, and others are among her notable professional undertakings. Best Interior Designers had the opportunity to talk to Alessia Genova to get to know more about her career and future in the interior designer industry.
How did you get involved in the interior design Industry?
When I was 19, I wasn’t sure what career profession I wanted to pursue. I loved architecture and decided to study Interior Design at Politecnico di Milano. A few months after graduating, I met Adam D. Tihany during the Salone del Mobile and told him directly that I would love to work for him one day. I guess that exchange ultimately forged my path forward. He kindly offered me my first opportunity internship at his Rome office in 2007, and after a series of promotions to Senior Designer and Studio Director of the years, in early 2020, I became Adam’s first-ever Managing Partner, which I am today.
When you meet the right mentor, someone who thinks he never worked one day in his life because he loves what he does, it is easy to be driven and embark on the right journey.
How would you describe your work style? Do you have any kind of signatures that help to identify your projects?
Every project I design is unique and different from the previous one. My team and I work collaboratively as an atelier to design custom spaces for our clients. Certainly, I have a design sensibility that is my own and distinct from other designers – the signature, however, is creating a memorable, experiential moment in every project.
Being in love with our work is always the key to achieving better results. Are you in love with this job? What do you love most about being an interior designer?
Adam was right about passion underscoring what elevates our work in interior design when he says he never worked a day in his life. I share the same feeling, that when you love what you do, the word work takes on a new meaning. You always think about design; it is a constant imprint and orientation everywhere you go … your eyes are conditioned to look into the detail, to find inspiration for your next project. I am fortunate to have a creative job that enables me to travel to beautiful spaces. I have the opportunity to create experiences and spaces where people often decide to spend their memorable occasions and important chapters in their life (celebrations, honeymoons, great vacations). What is not to love?!
What is your philosophy on design and life?
Design is like cooking. You can follow a recipe, but it’s passion, dedication, and a little madness to fuel it with extra ingredients, that brings a vision to life. At the same time, it is so important to understand the person who sits in front of you for whom you are creating the design; to always be respectful of their perspectives, their vision, and their needs, as part of the process, of bringing their desires to life – the means to make them happy.
Keeping up to date on all the trends is essential for anyone who wants to conquer this market. In what ways do you keep current with new trends?
Staying up to date with trends is important, but is also essential to make a point of distinction rather than just following what everyone else is doing. Otherwise, a project becomes just another of the same.
Typically, I follow the news of many different industry sectors and try to stay abreast of the evolving lifestyle preferences and needs of consumers (not only in hospitality), to ensure I can always be responsive to the market in a meaningful.
Which major international events do you attend/follow to get the latest novelties?
These days, there are several lectures, podcasts, live-streaming events that cover very interesting topics, and I try to attend as many as I can, whether in person or remotely.
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
AG: I would not call myself a decorator per se, and as I have said, in my professional work, the design is unique to , but personally, a few keywords that I would use are:
“attuale” (current), timeless, elegant, chic, tailored, and trendy when it is necessary for a contemporary complement. A good comparison and brand example would be a luxury brand such as Hermes.
All artists need some inspiration to work, and interior designers are artists too. So, what or who really inspires you?
Everything that surrounds me, you never know when the inspiration can come from. The source can be a shop window, an art gallery, the presentation of food at a restaurant, listening to a song or watching a movie. I think constant curiosity in one’s environment generates a continuous flow of inspiration, and I am a very curious person for sure.
Inspiration is something that pushes everyone to create unique things. What makes you see the world in a different way?
As an inquisitive person, I always ask myself how can I take something and re-interpret it so it evolves into something else or raise the bar on its previous form. I am also interested in how certain sciences can translate into the design, especially when looking at nature as possible inspiration.
If you had to pick one project around the world that you wish it was made by you, which one would it be?
Great question. If I can change eras and go back to the XVI Century, I wish I would possessed Michelangelo’s talett to paint the Capella Sistina. Today, the project that I wish to do is a Hotel in Italy – Roma, Venice, Milano and Florence — all of these cities have fantastic historical buildings, on which I would love to put my signature.
How important is a perfect chemistry between you and your clients to achieve the best results?
As the saying goes, “There is no good project without a great client.” Alignment with the client affords an easy exchange of ideas, promotes creativity and is a key ingredient to success.
Choosing the best pieces to compose a project can be the secret to getting the best overall result. Although it seems easy, this is a delicate task and needs full attention on time to execute. Do you have some tips for those who do not know well how to start a challenge like this?
Each project evokes an essential point of view, and points of view are totally subjective. As such, the designer also needs to be a good sales person to be able to expand the client’s outlook and receptivity to the designer’s presentation.
Do you think working with teams in interior design is better or worse than working alone? Why?
A creative and collaborative team is far preferable to working solo. Designers who share ideas and points of views always give the project more facets and more dimensions.
Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
We always work on exciting projects, a few are in the making, but one I can mention that will be at sea soon is Seabourn Venture – a super-luxury expedition cruise. Its design is something unique that merges the sensibilities of a yacht and a luxury mountain resort, in consideration of the destinations of this cruise.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a designer? What goals do you have for the future?
As I mentioned, embarking on my career as an intern and progressing the firm’s first and ever Managing Partner, would be one of my proudest accomplishments. My goal is to continue this path and eventually earn equity in the company, and ultimately evolve the company culture to a new level I always dreamed of. I envision a serene environment and workplace of longstanding, highly motivated, and talented designers, a team who can grow with and we all conspire together to raise the bar on ourselves.. This important goal is what brings me here and forward, and I think it is vital to be surrounded by passionate designers that love and enjoy their work.
Do you have a favorite project or a favorite story about one of your projects?
Mandarin Oriental Instanbul. For this extensive project, which first began in 2017 and just opened, I served as the lead designer and PM, and it was the first entire hotel that I designed from start to finish.,
The location is unique and spectacular, the glimmering shores of Bosphorus in Istanbul. Its stunning, chic interiors express my design sensibility, as we fueled the hotel’s contemporary setting with an embracing, indulgent yet authentic sense of place. And I share this with great pride and equal humility, that we have earned a loyal partnership with Mandarin as a long time client, a brand with whom we have partnered on projects in Hong Kong, Geneva, Las Vegas, NYC, London, and the highly anticipated renovation of the Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh, slated for completion late 2021.
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