First as a member of famously irreverent design collective Droog, and later through his own studio, Marcel Wanders has earned international acclaim for his eclectic designs, which marry industrial processes with meticulous handcrafting. He has created designs for Flos, Magis, B&B Italia, Alessi, and, more recently, hotels, private residences, and retail spaces from Bahrain to Miami. Now in his career’s third decade, Wanders will appear as keynote speaker at Dwell on Design 2015 to discuss with Dwell founder Lara Deam his unique definition of functionalism and lifelong desire “to make real things, not just conceptual objects.”
Wanders won the world’s attention in 1996 with his Knotted chair for Droog, the group he calls “the Memphis of the 1990s.” The lightweight seat, which appears flimsy but is in fact rigid thanks to special thread made of aramid and carbon fibers, captures the joy Wanders takes in playing with expectations. Other examples of his distinctive approach include the Egg vase for Moooi, a blooming vessel for flowers, and the cocoon-like Zeppelin chandelier for Flos.
In 2001, Wanders co-founded the furniture brand Moooi (the Dutch word for “beautiful,” but “with an extra O for extra beautiful”). As co-founder, art director, and designer, he’s retained the firm’s original focus on furnishings, while expanding his own studio’s horizons to include interior design. In 2008, he designed the Mondrian Hotel South Beach’s dreamscape interiors and the Villa Moda’s richly textural flagship store in Bahrain. Presently, he’s bringing his modern touch to the new Quasar luxury residences in Istanbul.
Wanders ambitions only continue to grow. Last year, a major retrospective of his work was held at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Meanwhile, Moooi is set to open a Manhattan showroom during New York Design Week in May.
“Where I used to think in terms of chairs and vases, now it’s big concepts like quality of life,” he explains. “If I have any basic motivation, it’s to inspire people to make their life a masterpiece.”