Q&A by Vibia: Interview with Toan Nguyen

Toan Nguyen portrait by Andrea Basile

– You are “a Parisian born designer living in Milan”… How have these two cities influenced your way of being and of working?

First of all, having spent my entire life in an urban setting makes me dream of nature, endless landscapes and pure air to breathe a little more each day.

Today Paris is the city of my family and my memories while Milan is the city where I originally decided to move for my work, so I would define myself as a French man but an Italian designer.

– If you had to choose your favorite material to work with, what would it be?

I like working with most of the materials but my preference goes to natural ones with a great tradition. At the same time, having the opportunity to work with a completely new and innovative material which has never been used can be very stimulating.

– Something that is never missing in your fridge?

To be really honest, I feel more responsible of the second fridge: the wine fridge. A good bottle of white and red wine is never missing.

– What is the moment you most enjoy in the design process? Thinking, sketching, rendering, prototyping…

Each phase is almost equally exciting in the design process: the thinking and sketching phases, which are for me almost the same, corresponds to a more introspective moment and a continuous research of pushing the limits of any project. The following phases are working as hard as possible in close collaboration with our partners (term that I prefer over “clients”) to make the project becoming a product.

– One famous person that you’d like to spend one day with?

How difficult it is to make such a choice! So many names and faces came in my mind from artists to movie-makers or musicians and so on. At the same time, it is hard not to think about the unprecedented crisis that our society is facing today. I would have so many questions to ask to a person who has still a lot to say and may have a little more time soon: Barak Obama.

– Is there any activity in your free time that provides a great source of inspiration for your work?

My best source of inspiration is travelling. I can do no other than looking at everything surrounding me through the lens of a designer.

– What was the most touching experience in your life?

Without any doubt, the birth of my children.

-What is your must-read book?

I would say In Praise of Shadows of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. The essay described in 1933 the Japanese aesthetics and values in contrast with the society changes and the “bad influence” of Europe. It is still unbelievably contemporary and a must-read book for any designer.

– What are your best quality and your biggest flaw?

I am very perfectionist; I am very perfectionist.

– What is something (a building, a city, an artwork…) that you think should be seen at least once in life?

Unfortunately, I cannot answer to this last question as I still have so much to see within the next hundred years.

The Algorithm collection, designed by Toan Nguyen for Vibia, will soon be available on our website.