The Whimsy Of Marcel Wanders

Superstar Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, founder of Moooi, touches down in Toronto this Friday, May 3rd, to unveil his latest designs for Klaus, the exclusive Canadian dealer of Moooi furnishings. On May 4th, he will speak at the Hair of the Dog Brunch hosted by the Design Exchange from 11 to 1:30 p.m.

Wanders is a product and interior designer who shot to fame with his knotted chair design for Droog in 2006. Since forming Moooi in 2001, he has gone on to design products for Ålessi, Christofle, B&B Italia and Target, and very hip architectural projects and interiors. We asked Wanders about some of his latest endeavors, and reveal some of his new Moooi offerings at Klaus.

House & Home: You have said that product designers should make fantasies real, and your designs and interiors — particularly the trippy South Beach Mondrian — really illustrate this philosophy. Where do you think your whimsical sense of play stems from?

Marcel Wanders: If you want to give people a new experience, you have to kind of surprise them with something they have never seen, it gives them a sense of euphoria. Whimsical things are unexpected, you understand them as being very fun and beautiful, but I think the idea of fantasy should be meaningful. I don’t feel fantasy plays an important role in a lot of design, and I think it should. I am trying to put fantasy on a higher level in my work.

H&H: You’re a judge for the upcoming DX emerging designer contest. What kinds of things do you look for when assessing a young designer’s work?

MW: It’s difficult because you get only a little part of the story of design. I try to understand the reasoning behind the work, and why people are doing something. Ultimately, I don’t love to criticize someone else’s work, I want to support and excite these people.

H&H: You set up a program at Moooi to teach designers about business. Why is mentoring young designers in this area important to you?

MW: We have a young designer program to give feedback from professionals in — and outside — of the design world. I don’t know if I am a role model but I think everyone in the universe is either an example or warning, it’s up to us to choose which we will be. Designers working within the industry convince companies to invest, produce and sell their ideas, to make sure that people working in the company will still have a job tomorrow. It’s a responsibility for a designer. If you aren’t interested in listening to what companies need, then do a different job.

H&H: You’ve made a shift from product design to large-scale projects like commercial spaces and hotels (the Miami Mondrian is shown above). Is that a natural progression from product design?

MW: For me it’s kind of a logical step, I don’t want to do the same type of thing over and over again. Design is the study of relationships more than anything else. It’s always interesting to see the relationship of objects to their surroundings; I am exploring this within the interior designs I am doing.

For more insight, read interviews with Jonathan Adler and Vicente Wolf.

Photo credits:
2-4. Moooi

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