Reaching summits.

AuteurMawson, Emily
Fonction Business: entrepreneur in focus - Interview


Zermatt is dotted with his architecture. Chandeliers featuring unusual objects embellish hidden corners of the resort. The distinctive Handmade by Heinz Julen logo peeps from shop windows. Heinz Julen, architect, artist and designer, has made it his business to leave a creative imprint on the village he grew up in. The 48-year-old began building huts from matchsticks as a child, and has now designed 14 hotels and restaurants, a furniture shop and an art gallery. One of his projects, the Vernissage bar, cinema and gallery, was the inspiration behind Zermatt Unplugged. On the occasion of the festival, he reveals why he is so proud to be a part of the event and why he is forever entwined with Zermatt.

You are the creative talent behind successful hotels and restaurants in Zermatt, including Chez Vrony and Boutique Hotel Backstage, Why did you decide to become an architect and designer?

I never had to decide what I wanted to do. I followed an inner desire and developed my own world. As a child, I learnt by doing. I started building huts for my sisters when we were children and I was proud when they spent nights in them. I never stopped building for them--the only difference is that today, hundreds of people discover my visions.

What are the factors that were crucial to your success?

I have always remained true to my direction. When I imagine a project, I am like a child--nothing is impossible. For example, I am currently working on the Klein Matterhorn project, which is one of my biggest challenges at the moment. I won a competition to build a tower on the summit [to turn it into a 4,000-metre peak], which will create the highest viewing platform in Europe. The whole project will take a long time all we have completed so far is a restaurant just below the summit. Hopefully, there will be a happy ending.

You grew up in Zermatt. Why did you choose to stay in the resort to work?

My quality of life is very high here. I have an atelier in the mountains, where I do my first sketches on paper. Then there is my architectural office, factory and venues in Zermatt [such as the Boutique Hotel Backstage] where I meet people. Where else in the world could I find this combination? If I lived in New York, London or Berlin, it would perhaps be easier to expand my architectural design and art business. However, I would probably not have such a high quality of life. Anyway, I find my inspiration in the mountains, in Findeln above Zermatt...

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