Marcel Wanders: “I am proud when my design cannot be dated”


Famous Dutch designer Marcel Wanders started in the 1990s. He gained fame as a provocateur – his projects excited the minds with their extravagance. Today, 50-year-old Wanders has retained his youthful enthusiasm, and his latest collections – the spirit of experiment and the effect of surprise. He told ARTANDHOUSES about what design has no future without, about his obsessions and rejection of trends.

What is 2018 memorable for?

In 2018, we appeared in a dozen different projects, each of which is interesting in its own way. For example, they celebrated the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. I made a porcelain sculpture of a mouse and painted it in Delft blue and white. I worked with the paint as a conceptual artist: I applied it by hand in large strokes in just one minute.

Of course, there were leather sofas for Natuzzi, a collection of sanitary ware for Laufen (by the way, in the spring I will come to Moscow at the invitation of Laufen to talk about new products), outdoor furniture for the Spaniards Vondom and a furniture collection with phantasmagoric prints for Roche Bobois. My studio works tirelessly! It is headed by art director Gabriele Chiave and oversees 40 employees. So we also have plenty of time for the “small genre”: home fragrances that reflect the cyclical nature of life (want to know what youth or wilting smells like?), Or owl and penguin nightlights – perfect props for a nursery.

I often say that the works by Wanders are the fruit of the work of the whole team. We work and breathe as a single organism. It seems to me that the future belongs to the collective: the best ideas are born in discussion. Of course, it can be carried on with oneself. But it's more interesting together. Therefore, when talking about the works of my studio, I always say we! Look at us on my website, we made some funny photos. I am only one of many.

One Minute Mickey
design by Marcel Wanders and Leblon Delienne for Disney

How do you work? Do you draw by hand?

I am very digital, I like Mac and image editors. But of course I can sketch on a napkin like Picasso. One day it could be sold for millions.

What have you been obsessed with in recent years?

I am often called a storyteller. I do unusual things, like children's toys enlarged at times. However, this is not just something funny or cute. There is a deeper meaning behind each subject.

For example, a few years ago we created a collection of lamps for the world's oldest glass-blowing manufactory Barovier & amp; Toso (they are even included in the Guinness Book of Records!). We used colored glass and some spheres, and topped the composition was a bell, my trademark. It would seem that the thing looks funny and nothing more. But we used ancient techniques with which the manufactory has been working for more than one century, thereby embodying the brand's DNA in these “toy” lamps. I believe that provenance and roots are important, without them the subject has no future.

Perseus & amp; Lust Collection
design by Marcel Wanders for Barovier & amp; Toso

Tell us about your work for Louis Vuitton.

I did a few things for the Objets Nomades project. This is a Louis Vuitton collection dedicated to home furnishings. Things come out in limited editions. Every year it is replenished with several new products, which the brand traditionally presents in the framework of spectacular installations. I am declared with a rocking chair and a modular hanging screen. A few years ago, I took part in a project for the first time with my sun lounger. It consisted of several sections that needed to be fastened together. When folded, the model looked like a compact tube. This year I made a floor mirror for LV, decorating the frame with pieces of mirrored facets. You are multiplying before our eyes!

Objets Nomades Collection
design by Marcel Wanders for Louis Vuitton

One of the most high-profile projects in recent years – your hotel in Doha. Please tell us about it.

The interior turned out to be enchanting. We must pay tribute to the Arab sheikhs, they do not waste time on trifles, they want grandiose things. By the way, I like it: the East strives for greatness and openly demonstrates it. We in Europe are used to not sticking out ourselves, this is wrong. If you did something cool, tell me about it, don’t shade!

The interior of Mondrian Doha takes you into a fairy tale. It reflects the spectacularity of Arab culture. I worked as a director, the hotel really turned out, I would say, cinematic. Bright colors, the most bizarre shapes, a lot of decor – yes, I am very pleased with this interior!

Mondrian Doha
an iconic interior by Marcel Wanders

What's next for interior design in 2019?

I will not make predictions, but I am sure of one thing: people need emotions. This is the easiest way to get attention. A person will always prefer a spectacular interior to a boring one, because we have inherent curiosity, a desire to be surprised. Biochemically speaking, when you learn something new, it contributes to the production of endorphins, the hormone of happiness. You can get hooked on this.

I don't believe in trends. Wear yellow this season – what nonsense! I try to create timeless things, they will not be intimidated by time. You know, I am proud when my design cannot be dated. Looking at this or that thing of mine, you cannot say: this is the 1990s, and this is the 2000s. It does not matter. Thanks to this, I am always in trend. Although the problem is in the word itself. It is vicious. We need stability and we need change. But a balance needs to be found. Sounds like a pun: but if you don't want to be outdated, don't go chasing a new one! These are actually simple logic outputs.

The Globe Trotter Collection
design by Marcel Wanders for Roche Bobois

What is the most unusual project in your practice?

I designed a prefab (prefabricated house). True, so far only on paper. I also released a mask to breathe in the metropolis. Have you been to Shanghai? In the spring the air turns to a yellowish suspension, people suffocate. I am sure she will help thousands of people. It works on a multi-stage filtration system, you can add aromatic oils, while this is a practical unit – it is easily washed in a washing machine.

Here's a trend, by the way. A designer is really akin to a magician, not just me, any designer. After all, this profession assumes that you form the living environment, which means the canons according to which the human community exists. You set the rules. You are a demiurge, a creator, everything depends on you. I believe that designers need to take on themselves, realize their place in a changing world and begin to change it themselves. Using new technologies, developing new materials, coming up with how to solve everyday problems, from the simplest to the macro format. The world does not wait!

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