Viken Vanlian: The Art of Passion
November 15, 2011
Young, dedicated, and passionate to the extreme, interior designer Viken Vanlian rose to fame within a few short years of assuming his position in the family business and creating an exceptionally stylish line of furniture under his own name. Today, he is at the helm of a young, energetic, and creative team that strives to deliver some of the most stunning interiors and help clients realize their dreams.
Vanlian was introduced to the world of interiors and furniture through the business his father founded some 50 years ago and got his first taste of what was to become his life’s passion at the tender age of seven when he went to his first interior design show.
With nearly a decade of experience under his belt, Vanlian has undertaken a diverse variety of residential and commercial projects that have allowed him to express his unique sense of creativity with an unmatched distinctiveness, making him one of the most sought after designers of his generation.
With his warm and welcoming personality, Vanlian invited Today’s Outlook into his world where he reveals his inspirations, passions, and projects past and present.
How has your style developed since you started and what inspires you?
Life inspires me; my family and the people around me all are sources of inspiration. I’m a very open person and I enjoy interacting with people and this helps enhance my creativity and aids in the development of my design sense because I’m not set in one style. When I graduated, I was very much into the 70s and pop culture; now my style has developed in a direction that includes classic and modern. I also love Art Deco as well as others, so my tastes tend to be on the eclectic side. I always like to experience new things and it may well be that I encounter something on the street that serves to inspire me.
How do you help clients in the selection of colors and styles for their interiors?
That depends on whether it’s for their home or a public venue like a restaurant, hotel or bar. If it’s the latter I try to implement as much of my own tastes as I can because I like to create something that’s never been done, something daring, new and different. When it comes to designing homes, I take the opposite approach by making it as personal as possible for the client. Typically, I spend a few days making notes about my client’s daily routine and details such as if they receive and entertain a lot of guests, where they eat, where they put their clothes, where they store their jewelry, and so on. I pay attention to the minutest details. I’m lucky to be at a place in my career where I can choose my clients, because this process involves working closely for up to a year with someone, so if you and the client don’t click or share the same vision about the project, it will be very difficult.
How do you determine which colors to use? Does it depend on the client’s age or the location of their home?
For me, age is just a number and is more about personality than anything else; you can be in your 60s and have a very young personality or be in your 20s and act a lot older. I take the surroundings into consideration so that the interiors go well with the exterior setting. For example, a mountain house would look good with different woods, colors that reflect nature, the sky and trees, while a beach house would look best in fresh colors to give a sense of continuity between the inside and the outside. Other than that, I try to have as much input from the client as possible because styles and trends come and go, but the client has to live with what they choose for a long time.
What are the tastes of the Lebanese clientele?
I would say their tastes are developing because the world is more accessible thanks to globalization. Access to the Internet and frequent travels abroad have exposed the Lebanese to new forms of expression, new styles, new designs, new tastes. They have also become more daring with a renewed desire to be different rather than just blend in with the rest. They want to be more unique instead of being followers who make their choices based simply on what’s popular or what their circles of friends have chosen.
Geographically, where is the bulk of your work?
We take on projects all over the world, most recently it was a project in London for a nice house. We are based in Lebanon, and most of our projects are in Lebanon and the Gulf area. One advantage of working in the Gulf area is that the sizes of the projects tend to be on a much larger scale.
What kind of services does your company offer?
We are a one-stop shop basically offering you everything you might need. We handle a project from start to finish, with furniture, lighting, paintings, and every little detail included. When we are done with a project for a home, for example, all the client needs to do is hang their clothes! We can handle your project from A to Z or whatever parts of it you wish.
Are you also taking on the construction of any projects?
Yes. In fact we are currently working on a project in Faqra which covers over 200-square meters of chalets. Because Faqra is surrounded by nature, and it is a where place people go in order to relax, we built a concept around trees. The trunk of a tree is ever-present in the façade and the architecture, and we integrated it into the interior as well. There are big bay windows that provide you with great views, so we choose to use rough wood with a mix of smooth materials to give that inside-outside blend of architecture and interiors. Another project we have is an apartment tower in Sin el-Fil. They are small residential apartments that we call ‘affordable luxury’ because real estate prices are on the rise, and we want to cater to the segment of the market that is looking for reasonable prices. We are always looking for nice locations with great views, just to give a different touch to what we do.
Do you find yourself involved more in following up on these projects or is it still interiors and your personal lines that you are more devoted to?
It’s everything really. I’m quite passionate about all of these, and I don’t have any children yet, so my work is my baby!
What are the current trends in design?
Like in fashion, there is a bit of everything because styles are shifting and changing and becoming more diverse and personalized. The 50s designs are coming back, even the colors; you also have the industrial look which is very big now.
On a more personal note, how do you spend your time and what are your other passions?
I love life, so life is my passion. I love meeting people and talking to them because I believe the more you know people, the more you can surround yourself with love and happiness and the more you can spread it. I love art and fashion which also inspire me a great deal; I also enjoy reading books and watching movies.