Interview with the “Lady Gaga of design” Marcel Wanders
Dutch designer Marcel Wanders has been described as the ‘Lady Gaga of design’ but that title does him a disservice – his career has already spanned 25 years, during which he’s worked with the likes of Alessi, Puma, Swarovski and KLM. He co-founded the design label Moooi and has recently created the Circus range for Alessi
What first started your interest in design?
As a kid, I was drawn to objects. My mum and dad had a store, and if something was broken, I would try doing it up. It was a very basic inclination towards the architecture of objects. I had my own little workshop in the attic – I just loved making things. It was primitive and basic, but as a kid I liked to problem-solve and you learn a lot from that.
Back in 2002, you were selected as one of Europe’s ‘25 leaders of change’. In what ways do you think design changes the world?
I think design today is such a huge terrain and it has so many different sides to it. You find designers in every walk of life, whether it’s politics, graphics, movies, business – you find the fruits of design everywhere. Designers are becoming very multidisciplinary and the importance of design has exploded because it affects so many different areas of life. Design has understood itself as a means to think and not just as a means to decorate or to make objects.
And, of course, your own designs are very multidisciplinary and very playful – what keeps inspiring that side of your work?
I think design is here for the good of mankind. It’s here to show that the world is great, that there’s a future. It’s a positive thing. I think it’s important
therefore to be light-hearted, but it doesn’t mean you have to have a sense of humour. If you look at all the designs I make, there are a few things that
are always there; it’s always something that’s a little bit recognisable. I mean, a chair always has four legs, a vase has a base and a funnel, they’re classical objects in a way, while mine are old fashioned almost in how they look. In a way, they are recognisable archetypes. If you have that light-hearted feeling, this object takes you on a little journey, you feel comfortable, but it still surprises you.
It seems like that side of your work is what makes you a good match for the brand Alessi – what keeps bringing you back to them?
When I was at design school, Alessi was the brand. I’m talking about the late Eighties. Send someone to an Alessi store blindly, pick something from the shelf, take it to a wedding and give it to the couple and everyone’s happy. For Alessi and myself, Circus is kind of an innovative project. We’ve been working on it for four years. For them it’s a technology which is very new – stainless steel and colour – and for us it’s a very different type of design. It’s interesting that although it’s very new for both of us, it’s recognisably ‘our brands’.
Read the full interview by Adam Duxbury in the Winter 2016 issue of Winq available here.