Marcel Wanders is a leading product and interior designer with over 1,900 + iconic product and interior design experiences all around the globe for private clients and premium brands such as Alessi, Baccarat, Bisazza, and Louis Vuitton. Regarded by many as an anomaly in the design world, Marcel Wanders has made it his mission to “create an environment of love, live with passion and make our most exciting dreams come true.”
This creative and remarkable work excites, provokes, and polarizes, but never fails to surprise for its ingenuity, daring and singular quest to uplift the human spirit, and entertain. The Dutch top interior designer’s main goal is bringing the human touch back to design, ushering in what he calls design’s ‘new age;’ in which designer, craftsperson and user are reunited. In his process, Marcel Wanders defies design dogma, preferring instead to focus on holistic solutions rather than the technocratic. For this reason, One Hundred Edition decided to interview this creative mind. Take a look and discover more about Marcel Wanders, as a person and as an artist.
Check here the Exclusive Interview with Marcel Wanders.
- Recognized for being one of the most artistic interior designers, Marcel, you are a source of glamorous and striking ideas. You are, without any doubt, more than an extraordinary product designer and more than a genuine interior designer: you are a leading light in the world of the unique design. What do you love most about being an interior designer?
What I love most about being an interior designer are all the different locations we connect with. With each project, I want to create a sense of place. The goal is to create a destination, and we do this best by bringing the local setting into the design. We bring the colors, natural elements, local architecture and culture inside. When we take on interior design projects, there is a heightened responsibility I feel to the people of the area. I love getting to know them and learning their customs. Each project is another chance to be exposed to new ways of thinking and feeling.
- Tell us a typical day at work for you.
The great thing about what I do is that there is no such thing as a typical day. Some days, I begin with a
meeting with the project team members, while other days I begin by working alone sketching and experimenting. I do my best to not keep a regimented schedule, and choose to be more fluid. I always want to leave time each day to daydream, draw, play with materials and do something tactile with my hands. While we do have some set project milestones, each project really brings its own processes, making each day unique.
- When designing a project what is the most important factor for you?
Being open to ideas is essential to anything we do. We make an effort to collaborate in such a way that we are pushing each other forward and extending possibilities. Inspiration comes from so many places and we have to be open to that throughout the entire process. Sometimes, ideas come later in the project, and we want to be flexible and to allow new information to guide our design. We begin projects with an open-mind curiosity and willingness to learn and explore.
- How do you describe your personal design style? Do you have any kind of “signatures” that help to identify your projects?
Our bell and bow have become signatures of our designs. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit with everything we create. The bell has long stood as a symbol for gathering and welcoming people to spend quality time and make meaningful connections with one another. We bring that invitation to many of our pieces. We also create things in delft blue, and I have personally created editions of one-minute sculptures that bring the human touch back to design.
- All design professionals need some inspiration to produce creative work as interior designers. So, what or who really inspires you?
I can be inspired in many ways. Often, just being at rest brings ideas. The people around me in our studio inspire me as I see them develop their craft more and more each day. I think inspiration is about constantly being open to what something can be, not necessarily being fixed on external influences. Ultimately, I believe all inspiration comes from inside. I always say, you can tie me up, blindfold me and I would still feel inspired.
- What are your most favorite interior design projects in recent years?
I couldn’t say that I have a favorite, however, the Mondrian Doha and the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel in Portals Nous stand out as two recent projects where we were able to create a seamless connection to the surrounding areas. With both interiors, we brought natural and cultural elements within to create a true destination that stays with people long after they leave.
- Mondrian Doha Hotel is one of your most sophisticated projects where Marcel Wanders created a multi-layered sensory experience. What is your philosophy in design and life?
My philosophy of design, and my life as well, is centered around a single word: surprise. Of course, that being said, there are many, many ways in which I go about achieving it. Through the use of rich, bold colors that are luxurious and festive, and patterns and textures that are dimensional and unexpected, everything I do is meant to touch the hearts and minds of people. I see my purpose as uplifting the human spirit and I do that through the creation of both the beautiful and relatable, but also the logical and intelligent. My approach to design is led by poetry, romance, excitement, and surprise. My process begins by looking to create an environment of love and to live with passion and make our most exciting dreams come true. With that as my foundation, I seek to create a design that is sophisticated, beautiful and enduring.
- You are also a great product designer. The Monster Chair Divina Melange, designed by you for MOOOI in 2014 is one of the most iconic products in the design world. What are some of the materials that you love working with?
I enjoy working with a wide range of materials as all of them present unique capabilities and challenges. Crystal is a beautiful material as it exudes luxury and pairs well with marble, as we showed for Baccarat. But it is not without challenges, as it is less tolerant than plastic and far less flexible. I also love working with porcelain as we did with Lladró. The hand-shaping of the petals that form the lamp allowed us to bring the human touch to our design. Tile brings us the opportunity to create murals and computational designs that enable us to create mesmerizing patterns.
- As a leader of one of the most reputable design studios in the world, what was the project that brought you more joy and a sense of accomplishment?
Although I am grateful for the opportunity to make the Knotted Chair in 1996 and getting recognized on an international level, really, I believe that the most joy will come from the next project. I try not to ponder past projects too much, but rather stay open to what’s coming. Every new project is a chance to work with more talented people, and to discover new techniques that allow us to continue to redefine what’s possible.
- Your work transcends the modern interior design universe: you create design challenges and new concepts and also offers a high level of service. New York Times describes you as “The Lady Gaga of the design world” and for you, there are no restrictions. Which are the most important aspects of Marcel Wanders’ work?
We have several values that we adhere to throughout our work. We embrace heritage. We believe that history is the foundation for design via shared craftsmanship techniques and time-honored processes. We seek to bring new products to market that reveal cultural innovation, sustainable use of materials and solve a problem while fitting seamlessly into people’s lifestyles. We always want to be unexpected. Design is at its pinnacle when it reveals itself in the least expected manner and evokes an emotional, involuntary response of joy and enlightenment. We want to humanize design. We seek to design creative luxury. And that starts where functionality ends. It’s only where true value is personal, without price or reason, that magic can begin. Our design tells stories. We create a sense of place in a way that is inclusive and allows people to project themselves into the story. We embrace polarity, always. When our objects and environments express polarity or delightfully play with the balance of scale, tone, shapes, presenting both order and chaos, our work strikes at the heart of those who experience it. Indeed, we are poets, secretly engineering.
- Famous for being an explosion of ideas, what does the future hold for Marcel Wanders?
The great thing is, I don’t know. And that’s what makes what I do so exciting. Our projects are so varied. Therefore, we look at every project as an opportunity to develop our craft. We continually look for ways to work with new partners, and we genuinely enjoy collaborating with some of the biggest luxury brands in the world.
- Marcel, being such an inspirational person, is there any advice or tips you would like to offer on how to reach for success?
The best advice I ever received that I can pass on was being told to never quit. Very often, it’s when you think you have exhausted every idea and design that trying a juxtaposing color, pattern or material sparks a whole new concept. That it is the beauty of what we do. And when you allow yourself to be open to it, inspiration can be found anywhere. I always tell young designers to not be afraid to fail at something. That is when you learn. I would encourage them to never stop trying to find the solution. Also, I would say stay true to what you believe, continue doing what you’re passionate about and the opportunities will present themselves. Work hard, but never forget to stop and play when you can.
- In a post-industrial culture that glamorizes the handmade, how do you see the importance of Craftsmanship in Contemporary Design?
Craftsmanship is everything. I believe in bringing the human touch back to design by ushering in a new age in which designer, craftsperson and user are reunited. I think in some ways, technology has made it almost too easy to get away from the craftsmanship and artisan approach. I am trying to move from materialism to conceptualism and connect back to what design is for – moving the human spirit. I think to do that, design needs to be work that is more personal, random, more accidental and handcrafted. Every day, I am replacing the coldness of industrialism with poetry, fantasy, and romance of different ages that I vividly brought to life in the contemporary moment.
- Think quickly:
One quality your team members must have? Passion.
The first thing that catches your eye when you enter a room (empty or not)? Lighting and shadows cast across space.
When you remember your first project, what do you feel? Joy!
How Arts & Crafts and Advanced technology can live together? In total harmony.
Most inspiring Museum/ Gallery for you? The Gallery of Honour of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Less is more …or more is more? Less is lazy. More isn’t even enough!
Thank you, Marcel, for being a creative and “Wander-ful” designer!