THDP: London to Milan

Our tickets are booked and our itinerary is planned, we’re ready to jet off to Milan Design Week next week!

Our impending Milan trip got us thinking about Milan as the world hotspot for design and we thought it timely to speak with Architect Manuela Mannino, Co-Founder of THDP, about the designer’s London and Milan studios.

Nick Hickson and Manuela Mannino in their London studio. Photo: Linda Scuizzato

We’re thrilled that you, and your partner Nick Hickson, are Design Insider Ambassadors and it’s a joy to share your news with our readers. Perhaps for readers who haven’t discovered your work yet, you could tell us a little more about yourself?

My name is Manuela Mannino, an Italian Architect, and I co-founded THDP with my partner, Interior Designer Nick Hickson.

Nick and I founded THDP in 2005, a luxury Architecture and Interior design studio, now based in both Milan and London. Our work is focused on the international hospitality sector, delivering inspiring properties using our wealth of knowledge and our impeccable sense of style.

We aim to create compelling properties by narrating coherent concepts that listen to the soul of the property, the considerations of the owners, and the history of the location. We create intelligent interiors, plan every detail, and design from first principles to empower prosperity.

The result is award-winning spaces and extraordinary adventures for hotel guests, creating beautiful hotels, bars & restaurants that thrive on their local culture and heritage. We’re proud that our spaces are welcoming to guests, which inspires their loyalty, and leverages their enthusiasm to create word-of-mouth publicity.

Can you tell me about your South East London Studio?

Our London studio is in Deptford London, it’s a lovely airy space and we’re able to enjoy the cool bar next door. 

THDP’s London office, Fuel Tank SE8

Our London Studio team work collaboratively to create some really inspiring projects. Each member of our team has been hand-chosen and we work comfortably together in the demanding discipline of hospitality design. Our approach springs from an endless creative curiosity, we are not just designers, architects, concept developers, photographers, or communicators – we are all of those and much more.

Our London Studio recently completed The Hyatt Regency in London Blackfriars which is imminently due to open in May 2023, we also completed a luxury retirement development in Paddington and the refurbishment of the Hilton Vienna Waterside.

A render of The Hyatt Regency, London Blackfriars

Did your Italian heritage inform the opening of your central Milan studio?

Italy is in my DNA and will always continuously influence my way of working. 

Our decision to open our Milan studio was primarily informed by our experience in the hotel market and how over recent years it had been developing. Having built strong relationships with our Italian clients we knew that having a studio based in Milan would be sustainable as a business and would remove the need for us to travel back and forth from the UK.

I moved to Italy for the studio’s launch in 2022 and lead the Milan team whilst Nick manages our London team.

We’re looking forward to visiting your studio as part of our upcoming trip, can you tell me more about it? 

Our office is in Corso Magenta, in the very centre of Milan.

The position is key for our clients to be able to visit easily utilising public transport, whilst at the same time we’re all able to admire the beauty of the historical quarter where the office is located. From our windows you have a gorgeous view of Santa Maria delle Grazie church, which is the place where Leonardo Da Vinci painted his Renaissance masterpiece: The Last Supper. 

Could you tell me about more of the projects your Milan based team have recently worked on?

We have been thrilled to work with a wide variety of clients in Italy. Our current projects articulate the growth in aparthotels and luxury short rental development and we are working with several key companies across multiple sites.

Rialto Short Luxury Rental Apartments. Photo: Giorgio Baroni

We have recently finished a lovely project in Venice which was a refurbishment of a 12 apartment palace in the Rialto district, this will be followed by projects in Rome and Naples.

Lobby of Hilton Milan, via Galvani

We are also working on two big projects coming up now in Milan, one is the refurbishment of Hilton Milan on Via Galvani, the other one is soon to be announced!

What opportunities does Milan hold for design which other European cities do not?

It is undeniable that Milan is the hub of Italian design; the beating heart of know-how, craftsmanship, all in one city, where industry and technology meet ancient crafts and arts. Salone del Mobile.Milano is the world’s largest furniture fair, rightly so, as the design of Italian Furniture, Ceramics, Lighting etc is world renowned. I know that Italy will always hold its special place in the design world. 

What does the future hold for your Milan Studio and for THDP as international designers?

We plan to stay local, with investment in Italy in particular reaching records levels in 2023, the choice and breadth of projects here is fantastic. But who knows?


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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