Wonderful wanders

By Marianina Patsa

The New York Times described him as the “Lady Gaga of design” and his subversive thinking contributed to his expulsion from the Eindhoven Design Academy. Today, with nearly 2,000 projects to his name for clients such as KLM, Swarovski, Puma and MAC, Dutch designer Marcel Wanders continues to challenge, delight and – most importantly – enjoy his work by creating on his own terms. “Always give people more than they expect” is the phrase that best describes the philosophy he has espoused for 27 years. Unexpected and full of surprises (really, what do you think of vases that look like they’re made of stacked eggs?), Wanders is still considered by many to be an “anomaly” in the design world. However, he has made it his mission to create “a loving environment in which to live passionately, realizing our wildest dreams,” and this adds a fun and humanistic touch to his design.

Born in Boxtel, Wanders graduated from the Arnhem Institute of Arts in 1988, after leaving the Eindhoven Design Academy. In 2000 he opened his studio in Amsterdam, first gaining attention in 1996 with the Knotted Chair (a chair that looks like it’s made of knotted ropes), which combines high-tech materials with “low tech” production methods. In 2001 Wanders founded the Moooi label, of which he is co-owner and artistic director. Mostly, however, he works as a product and interior designer, but also as a creator of artworks in his eponymous studio, collaborating with around 50 international designers.

He is inspired by Michelangelo and Philippe Starck and loves things that last. “I’m not the kind of person who works on his inventions to save the world. I work on durability in design. I want to make products that are worth committing to for a lifetime. That will last both as materials and as a concept. I’m a kind of amateur, because amateurs are not so sure of things, so they do a lot of research and sometimes find interesting solutions, bringing new ideas to what the experts might overlook.” Interior space is becoming increasingly important to Wanders. For him, it’s not just a place to be filled functionally and aesthetically. It is the embodiment of modern fantasies. His work is embraced because it offers layered, sensory experiences. His notable projects include the Kameha Grand Hotel in Bonn, the Mondrian South Beach Hotel in Miami, Villa Moda in Bahrain and more. – although he has also undertaken private residences from Amsterdam to Mallorca. “As the world changes,” he says, “design will change. But I think we designers have to move somewhere between change and permanence. And I hope that eventually we can create meaningful things that offer both.”

Photography courtesy of https://www.marcelwanders.com