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Photography by Mr Maarten Kools | Words by Mr Benjamin Seidler

There is a conviction and passion in Mr Wanders' work that defies its deceptive frivolity. As Mr Robert Thiemann, the esteemed design critic and editor-in-chief of Frame magazine, wrote, Mr Wanders' work is pervaded by "passion, frankness, and the need to experiment - all the qualities that professionals eventually tend to lose throughout the course of their career... the qualities behind love and amateurism".

More romantic and lavish than your average "lifestyle" designs, Mr Wanders' exuberant award-winning work ranges from the interiors of the Mondrian South Beach hotel in Miami to lamps for luxurious lighting company Flos. Having first garnered critical attention when his famous "knotted chair" was produced in 1996 by Droog Design, Mr Wanders quickly established his reputation for creating a world where all is not what it seems: the chair looked like delicate macramé, but was in reality firm enough to support a seated body. Mr Wanders is now art director of 11-year-old design brand Moooi, where he continues to break dogmas of modern design with his increasingly decorative and narrative-driven work. In Mr Wanders' world, more is definitely more, and this attitude lends itself to a strong aesthetic that has been called upon by companies including KLM, Google, Alessi and Cappellini.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
It's romantic. And although it is rational, it tries not to look rational. It tries to give people a good quality of life.
How do you think the design world has most significantly changed since you started working?
Over time, we have become better and better at visualising spaces as well as creating them. Having designed for many years, I sometimes get disappointed that my drawings are more beautiful than the reality. The reality is not the dream I had imagined as, in the end, there is an ugly girl sat on my sofa. Things get beaten up and people redecorate. My virtual world of interiors is a world I really love, and lets me realise my dream spaces.
You have created everything from socks to hotel interiors - how do you approach each project?
I think that whether we do a building or a teaspoon, we approach it with the same philosophy in a general sense. But each project has its own problems - a teaspoon and teacup are different objects and need their own way of working. I design an object as if it were a sculpture. With interiors, you can't do that, because then it would be frozen and dead. With interiors, it's more like a piece of music: it's alive, it's playful, and it changes from A to B - time has its influence on it.
Do you think being Dutch effects your style or your approach to work?
Yes, I am involved in this culture and like to share my heritage, surrounding and political views. The work we do is, on the one hand, for a very international audience and speaks in a very international language. On the other, it comes from my heart and so it comes from what I think is important. It is both universal and personal.

the details


How do you dress for work?
I always dress in the same way. I like to be classical in a suit with a black or white shirt and then add a personal touch with my accessories. I wear black suits - as I think they look sharpest, at least for me.
What is your priority when you design?
I like making gifts for people. A good gift celebrates the relationship between people. I want people to think that I think about them and their lives, and at the same time think "this is something only Marcel could do".
You've collaborated with both ends of the market - from Cappellini to Target. Do you approach designing for a specialised audience and the mass market differently?
Everything we do is of high quality, if not it wouldn't meet the values of my studio. Whether it's Target or Baccarat crystals, the visual quality, the surprise and the creativity are constant. Then they just end up in different households.
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