Portrait
  /  2024.06.17.  /  

"You are shaped by the environment you live in"

Interview with Viktor Csap, Founder and Owner of Studio Arkitekter

One of the region’s most innovative architects, Viktor Csap, founder of Studio Arkitekter, is preparing a grand-scale interior and a series of programs for this year’s S/ALON BUDAPEST.

If you are involved in interior design due to your profession or personal interest, you have probably come across Viktor or the name of his studio. Even if you do not browse industry magazines or related social media content, you may have encountered their work, as they are responsible for the interior design concepts of numerous hotels, as well as some of the trendiest restaurants and bars.

Viktor founded Studio Arkitekter in 2014 with the goal of creating a design and lifestyle brand infused with Danish ideas, where art and function serve the uniqueness of both business and residential spaces. Since then, their service portfolio has significantly expanded, and nowadays, besides interior design, they also deal with branding, product design, and construction.

At the event, you can get a taste of their design philosophy, discover their products and services, and participate in insightful discussions. Prepare for the encounter with our interview with Viktor!

Piros Pezsgő Piano Bar

Do your studies connect you to Danish design culture, or do you have other ties as well? What are the essential Danish ideas that appear in the studio’s work?

Yes, my studies are the closest connection, but even before that, I had set the goal of studying in Denmark. It was an inner drive to see that part of the world and to live there for an extended period. As an architect, this seemed like a good direction.

42 Restaurant
Design philosophy in Denmark is part of the culture.

It appears in everyday small things – even in a trash can or a smoking pavilion – as an integral part of life. It was good to absorb this environment. I was already convinced that the environment greatly influences people, meaning you actually become the environment you live in. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to: choosing and carefully shaping it with consideration. This belief became even more crystallized in Denmark, and it has been reflected in all of our studio’s work since then.

Arkitekter minihotel Budapest

Another defining element of Danish thought is practicality.

As an architect, this is not only important in design, but organizing the implementation is also necessary, at least on paper. An important part of our studies was the so-called crisis plan, which is prepared in case a construction project falls behind schedule. This involves creating a schedule based on 2-5 minute intervals, detailing exactly what happens when, with whose cooperation, and how, including the organization of the construction site.

Aulich utca penthouse

Is this why implementation is also part of your service portfolio?

In my previous jobs, it was never a question that I would also undertake the organization of implementation, although in larger-scale projects, it is common practice to separate design and construction. Whenever it happened that the client had their own contractor, the project was always more cumbersome and problematic. They often did not understand, for example, the bends or joints. So, around 2016-17, we decided to include implementation in our service portfolio, initially with a trusted subcontractor team. In 2018, we expanded with two in-house specialists, and this January, I partnered with Szabolcs Szabó, who is responsible for the entire construction division.

Loft Astoria

How did you get in touch?

We had worked together before, and he was the only one where I felt that I did not need to explain how to do something, how and why it is done a certain way. It was refreshing to work together, but we only recently reached the point of partnership. He took over our implementations, and he also brought his own projects. This is how we recently completed Giulia, the Aeron showroom on Andrássy, Kopaszi Kert, and Le Bistro.

Pokito

You undertake complete implementations not only for your own designs but also for spaces conceived by other designers. Who have you worked with in this form?

Besides our own work, we also implement projects for others. We work with designers who have their own offices or practices but specifically focus on design and need a good team to realize their visions. We have worked continuously with Ádám Bajor and had similar collaborations with Eszter Bertóty.

SmartApart Hotel

With this subcontracting activity, you are breaking down a seemingly insurmountable wall in the market. What do you think is the secret to success?

We have a very good team, and we maintain good relationships with our designer partners, with mutual respect and professional acumen. Szabi’s technical preparedness, which appears at the sectoral level as well, guarantees success in both our own designs and subcontracting projects.

Arkitekter minihotel Budapest

Beyond pleasant collaboration, the most important thing is that we are on the same side.

That is, everyone wants the result to be excellent in the end. If anything deviates from expectations during construction, we can solve it as a team, usually without involving the client. Thus, the client does not have to worry unnecessarily or stand as a mediator between the designer and the contractor. Without such close cooperation and team spirit, it can happen that position-guarding outweighs problem-solving in case of issues, which does not serve the project or, most importantly, the client’s interests. In our subcontracting projects, there is no finger-pointing, resulting in a much better client experience.

Panel 2.0

How did product design come into the picture?

We previously designed unique items for our interior design projects. This motivated us to have our own products to turn to, as there is not always time and opportunity to design and manufacture a piece of furniture or accessory from scratch. Prolonging design is not financially viable, which is why we develop our own furniture. The lamps, chandeliers, chairs, side tables, and tables we created this way are versatile and can be used with slight color or structure changes, tailored to the specific project.

Left: Coffee stay, right: Malibu chair

This practical motivation later developed into an aspiration to have our own design objects and home decor items that are a bit more unique – whether in form, material, or manufacturing technology – than what is available on the market.

Left:42 Restaurant, right: Malibu bracket

Sometimes a concept springs from our minds, and sometimes an item developed for a project becomes part of our offering later. Our chairs were born from a sketch, but, for example, the Pokito lamp was originally made for the titular restaurant, then we added it to our range.

Pokito

How is interior and furniture design similar?

I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that designing an apartment and a chair is equally complex. It requires a lot of planning, thinking, and experimenting to create truly high-quality furniture. Furniture manufacturing requires many sectoral skills, and the technological limitations available in the region and the entry costs present the most significant challenges.

Arkitekter minihotel Budapest

Recently, the Studio Arkitekter Interior Design Album was published, showcasing your work from 2008 to 2023. Tell us a bit about this, please!

The book was made for the tenth anniversary of the studio’s founding, but we have been working with the same mindset that Studio Arkitekter represents since 2008.

We wanted to express our gratitude to our past and present clients.

We intended to put this into a tangible form that people enjoy browsing, that they do not part with, which is not just a simple promotional material but a valuable and interesting object in its own right. This is how we arrived at the coffee table book format. Every client behind the projects featured in the book received a copy, but we also send it to potential partners for marketing purposes, and we sell it online. We see that it is popular, and it surprises us how much people like it.

I do not think this will be our last book; we already have ideas for the next one.

Studio Arkitekter Interior Design Album

Do you have a personal favorite among the references from recent years?

Every current project is a fluctuating love affair, with initial enthusiasm, challenges, and difficulties, followed by renewed delight upon completion. I look back fondly on my first project, a panel apartment, and also on Tokyo and 42, which were very exciting collaborations tied to significant periods from a client perspective. My latest favorite was, for example, Le Bistro.

42 Restaurant

In your opinion, what is the key to successful projects, and what advice would you give to beginners?

Design is 30% of the work; the core is actually the dialogue with the client. That is, it is not about getting to know and realizing the solution brought by the client, but about uncovering their problem and extracting their real needs. Of course, there are good practices for this, communication, sales, and presentation techniques, but asking the right question is the most important.

One should know that this is a slow-growing industry that requires patience and professional humility.

One either accepts this or moves to another industry. I advise them to go for internships, learn, and gain as much experience as possible!

What are you preparing for S/ALON BUDAPEST?

We are dreaming up a grand space where our latest collections will also be showcased. Additionally, we are preparing professional discussions and thought-provoking topics for visitors throughout the three days of the event, which can be exciting for both professionals and enthusiasts. Beyond practical insights, we will also look towards the future of technology, for instance, discussing the impact of artificial intelligence on the creative industry.

Join us from September 20-22 at the Budapest Arena for S/ALON BUDAPEST, where you can explore the latest selections from leading domestic and international brands all in one place, and meet the crème de la crème of the industry. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

2024.06.17.

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