Marc Hertrich – Studio MHNA – París, France
For the hotel and catering sector, spas, homes…
1 – Who is Marc Hertrich?
I’m the founder of Studio MHNA, an interior architecture and design studio created 25 years ago, where I’ve worked with my partner, Nicolas Adnet, for over 18 years.
2 – When did you realize that you wanted to be an architect?
I decided that I wanted to be an interior architect when I was studying cabinet making in Strasburg and attending drawing classes in the evenings at the School of Decorative Art. It was then that I decided to carry on studying in order to broaden my horizons at École Boulle in Paris.
3 – Name me one architect who you look up to.
Peter Zumthor for certain types of projects and Franck Gehry for other totally different ones, without forgetting Claude Nicolas Ledoux if we go back in the past and, long before that, Jules Hardouin Mansart. They form an eclectic group and they’re a good reflection of my attraction for widely varying worlds. Yet they’re all major names.
4 – And if you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have done?
I’d have worked in cabinet-making, drawing, or with flowers or nature in general.
5 – Name one of your weak points and a strong point.
My weak point would be to question things too much and my strong point to continue questioning them.
6 – What is your house like?
Just like me: eclectic, brimming with colour and fantasy, on the “fully furnished and decorated” side, and adorned with works of art in the style of a “cabinet of curiosities”. Let’s say, with a warm, cosy feel.
7 – What is Sunday a day for?
Visiting exhibitions (preferably in the morning), then having brunch with friends, taking a walk, reading and, needless to say, resting.
8 – Name me a place that is a source of inspiration.
Nature, my country house, exhibitions, strolls around Paris, my travels, music, books, any potential good source will do.
9 – What is the last book you read?
It was an autobiography of Victoire, one of Dior’s star models and a friend of St Laurent. I also read “Devenir soi” by J. Attali at the same time.
10 – Where do you see yourself in 15 years’ time?
Hopefully continuing to work on magnificent, even more amazing, crazier projects than now.
11 – When you think about architecture, what is the first thing that springs to mind?
The horror of thousands of projects built all over the place worldwide. The magnificence of some classical buildings and the marvellous austerity and purity of some contemporary works of architecture.
12 – Do you prefer to use a pencil or your computer?
Personally I prefer a pencil. In the studio, we do lots of pencilwork that is then transferred to the computer.
13 – How would you define your work?
As a pleasant, creative, interesting activity, thanks to the wide range of people you get to know and the variety of projects. Magical and “flattering” when you see the projects taking shape and moving off the drawing board.
14 – Name one project that you’d like to be involved in.
A project for a packet boat, with all the imagination and zaniness that a project of that description would need.
15 – What do you think about Spanish architecture?
Absolutely marvellous examples of architecture can be found in southern Spain, with Andalusia’s Moorish monuments and gardens. There are bold, very well controlled examples of architecture, such as work by Gaudí in Barcelona. There are splendid, very simple examples in rural areas and rich, mighty examples in the case of some forts, palaces and manor houses. Having said that, I have to admit that I know little about contemporary Spanish architecture.
16 – How do you manage to maintain your own style and still meet your clients’ needs?
Our style is a state of mind. Firstly, it is a question of listening to clients, analysing what they want, and being able to come up with original ideas. At the same time, we “weigh up” all the decisions we make, considering how our projects will withstand the passage of time and distancing ourselves as much as possible from trends and fashions.
17 – In architecture, what do you do best and what do you find the hardest to do?
Maybe what we do best is to respond to requests to “let our hair down” and to be creative. We find it very hard to work on trivial things and to do things simply to please. We mistrust a certain use of the term “good taste.
18 – What is your recipe for success?
To work on very different scales, at an international level. What also helps is our innate curiosity, our enthusiasm to keep making new discoveries, and our capacity to adapt to clients and to a huge variety of settings. And, above all, the desire to create, invent, amaze and have fun.
19 – What role do natural products play in your projects?
Many natural materials are rated fine materials, hence there are some that withstand the passing of time very effectively. Given the boom in green ideologies, natural materials form a constant part of new trends, particularly wood as well as wool, felt, silk, marble, and natural and fossilized stone. These natural materials inspire magnificent new synthetic ones, giving rise to the creation of fascinating products.
20 – For you, what are L’Antic Colonial’s star products?
Its outdoor flooring, because a very warm feel can be achieved without the typical shortcomings of using conventional natural wood outdoors (i.e. premature ageing, a non-uniform appearance that not everyone likes etc).