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From Cape Town, South Africa:

Adam Tihany Interview

Designer Adam Tihany Answers 10 Questions

Maze by Gordon Ramsay in One&Only Cape Town designed by Adam Tihany
Maze by Gordon Ramsay

Life is full of serendipity. In this case it took us running into architect and designer extraordinaire Adam Tihany in Cape Town, South Africa. We had the opportunity to catch up over a cup of rooibos tea on a rainy afternoon. But it all makes sense, because he was there putting finishing touches on the master design of the One&Only Cape Town’s Presidential suite. Tihany is well-known for restaurants design, and while in this case it was a hotel, rest assured that he also designed the One&Only’s Gordon Ramsay-powered restaurant Maze as well as Nobu’s African foray right off the lobby.

Before working on the One&Only Cape Town projects, Adam did a few others with its owner, Sol Kerzner, like the Ocean Club in the Bahamas; and long before that, the Transylvanian-born (Târgu Mureş) designer went to high school in Jerusalem and spent three years in the Israeli Army. He studied architecture, hotel and restaurant hospitality at the Politecnico di Milano before landing in New York in 1973. There, he started to work in design, kind of a factotum, trying not to starve , and later in 1979 he connected with Jean Denoyer who had night clubs and the Restaurant La Coupole—and the rest, as they say, is history.

So much to catch up on and so little time, so we’ll summarize our conversation below to enlighten you on the man behind Sirio Maccioni’s ubiquitous New York restaurant Le Cirque, Charlie Palmers’ famous wine tower at Aureole in Las Vegas and Thomas Keller’s uniquely Parisian brasserie Bouchon in Beverly Hills.

Alain Gayot: Do you like it here?
Adam Tihany:
Yes, I love Cape Town and actually live here part of the year.

AG: Where is your favorite place to travel to?
Well, there are so many, but I will always put Paris at the top; in fact I want to live there some day. I would add Barcelona, Mexico and Tokyo.

AG: Since you create restaurants, what are some of your favorite foods?
We cook at home; my wife Marnie and I like Mediterranean food and Japanese cuisine is not bad either.

AG: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Ah, that’s a very simple question and I am sure you could have guessed the answer: eating and drinking.

AG: What personal health routine do you practice?
Hm, let’s see, I am a cigar aficionado and consider myself a boulevardier; how’s that?

Adam Tihany and Alain Gayot Elegant dining in the luxurious Presidential Suite at the One&Only Cape Town hotel
Adam Tihany and Alain Gayot
Dining in the Presidential Suite

AG: Is there a project you wanted to do but which never happened?
AT: There is one indeed; it was the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona.

AG: Are your kids going to follow in your footsteps?
  My daughter is an actress and my son is a photographer and movie director, so there.

AG: What is your favorite movie?
I will give you my top three: “Being There,” “Some Like it Hot” and “La Strada.”

AG: What other careers would you have envisioned?
Education is key and I like to teach, but it would be fun to make a movie. However, advertising would probably have been my other career.

AG: Do you ever see yourself retired?
Not necessarily, but I am sure I will progressively slow down on the number of projects.

For more on Adam Tihany, visit

One&Only Cape Town
Dock Rd.
Cape Town, 8001 South Africa

(Updated: 09/13/12 DL)