Moniker the “Storyteller” of product and interior design, Marcel Wanders composes evocative experiences for private clients and premium cosmetic, furniture, lighting, hospitality and tableware brands to include Baccarat, Bill Amberg, Christofle, Flos, Lladro, Louis Vuitton, Poliform, Roche Bobois, Yoo Hotel Design Group and his own luxury brand Moooi to name a few.
Among the diversity of fantasy and romance, Marcel’s modern repertoire challenges your perceptions and brings sheer cinema to your soul that plays on your heartstrings. Wanders confabulates about the complexities of design and, with a hint of subtle humor, shares how he’s more provident towards the future.
“Luxury starts where functionality ends. It’s only where true value is personal, without price or reason that magic can begin. A place where your deepest wish is fulfilled before you knew you had it.”
— Marcel Wanders
VM: What part of design is authentic to you and how do you define beauty?
MW: Nothing is beautiful on its own; it’s always in a relationship to something else. Therefore, we can consider that beauty is the study of relationships. Red is not beautiful; red next to orange is fantastic. Red next to purple is fantastic. Red next to green can be troublesome. Simply, beauty is a measure of love.
VM: What does human luxury mean to you?
MW: Designers think that design is about functionality. Things are not great just because they function – they’re great because they do more than function. Functionality is absolutely at the lowest standard, and if that becomes the criteria for qualifying quality, then we live in an imperfect world. It’s a myopic view of how you approach it.
VM: How do you foresee virtuality tying into our real world?
MW: I think we are all on a path of being less in the physical world and more into the virtual world. I support it, and yet I’m frightened of it. This tension sometimes emerges as a result of memory. Today, we miss having a physical connection and our children will hopefully miss it less. As their children grow, they’ll be happy living in it. We’re on a never-ending slope that’s a contributor of our humanity. I think it’s a beautiful thing.
“What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
VM: Will we have any constraints in this parallel universe?
MW: Our basic needs will change. Who we think we are will change, and therefore what we think we will need will vary. If we think differently, we’ll accept a different world and the other way around. We’re very different from our fathers and mothers, as they are different from their fathers and mothers. We’re in an accelerated phase in which distances us from our ideals of physical reality. The most successful thing on earth is us. We’ve always been here adapting to the world around us. We’ve evolved as a species while other forms of life have become extinct and gone away. Our most amazing instruments are our bodies. – We’ve learned how to be resilient. Fantastic!
VM: How has the impact of COVID challenged you or changed your work process as a creator?
MW: There’s proof that the world has massively changed. Our interactions have become more automated without human connection. All of our relations with co-workers and friends feel too programmed, and non-physical things are suffering and will continue to suffer in the future. I’m afraid that with all of these computerized systems from home networking to zoom meetings, we’ve become too efficient. For years, we’ve been making studios with bean bags, billiards and have lunch meetings to nourish our creativity. People are getting too complacent in their home environments and distracted in their everyday lives with the dogs, children, etc. It will be hard to bring back the freedoms and privileges we use to have.
VM: Are you fascinated with the study of synesthesia as it seems that throughout your body of work, regardless of the medium, you engage the senses?
MW: Most people mainly experience the world by sight. Some are kinesthetic in understanding their place in the world; others see through the spiritual realm, while others feel it. There’s an entire range. I have a better perspicacity in seeing how people emotionally tie themselves to things. My approach to design is to not exclude or put up any roadblocks that allows for a multi-dimensional sensory experience. I’ve become a more-rounded designer and the gift I’ve been able to give to myself is to create an interactive narrative that has a meaningful connection. I don’t want to make something that feels unimportant.
– Design is an operetta of the senses.
VM: If you were to pick a character from a film or nursery rhyme, who would it be and how does that relate to you personally?
MW: The Little Prince.
“The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen.” ― Antoine de Saint–Exupéry