Mar­cel Wan­ders on ex­hi­bi­tion­ist de­sign

HOME Magazine NZ - - Con­tents - Text Claire Mc­Call —

He has been called the pea­cock prince of Dutch de­sign, which makes him sound all show with­out punch, but ever since his sem­i­nal ‘Knot­ted’ chair for Droog put him in the hot seat to star­dom in the 1990s, Mar­cel Wan­ders’ provoca­tive, ex­hi­bi­tion­ist de­signs have more than paid the bills. He vis­ited New Zealand re­cently as the guest of ECC and Moooi. Why do you be­lieve in de­sign that pushes the bound­aries? MAR­CEL WAN­DERS If all we needed de­sign for was to get our life or­gan­ised, we al­ready have those prod­ucts. We aim for a level of ex­cel­lence, for work that has more ex­cite­ment, more sparkle – and we try to ex­press that in prod­ucts that are un­like oth­ers. We want life to be ex­tra­or­di­nary be­cause, well, you are worth­while. Tell us about Moooi’s re­cently re­leased ‘Mesh­mat­ics’ chan­de­lier by Rick Tege­laar. I saw Rick pre­sent­ing Mesh­mat­ics in Dubai and I thought, ‘fuck, that is so cool’. At the time, he had only sold one or two to neigh­bours and friends. Rick does his own re­search and is a de­signer who not only knows how to do a good ren­der­ing of his idea, but how to en­gi­neer it. I re­spect that. De­sign­ers should take that type of re­spon­si­bil­ity for what they dream up. He uses an unas­sum­ing raw ma­te­rial – mesh – but when he stretches it, some­thing mag­i­cal hap­pens to the light; there’s airi­ness to it. Lights are of­ten a cen­tre­piece for a space – a place for peo­ple to gather around – that’s why we don’t want them to be aver­age, but sculp­tural, su­per big, soft, fem­i­nine and warm. The ‘Charleston’ chair looks like an up-ended Ch­ester­field sofa – what’s go­ing on there? When I was 10, my broth­ers and I would sit back on a sofa and tip the whole thing over; we’d be ‘sit­ting’ on it but in a dif­fer­ent way. That is what in­spired me; I like to flip things around. There’s no logic in do­ing a crazy thing. The ‘Charleston’ would look good in an en­trance space. Imag­ine if you vis­ited a house or ho­tel and saw it there; you might think, ‘this evening could be fun’. Some peo­ple say it’s ridicu­lous to have an up­side down couch as a chair, then they sit in it, take a photo and send it to friends. ‘O’ [a O-shaped out­door seat] is an­other ex­am­ple of a new way to ex­press the idea of sit­ting. ‘O’ is also an in­te­gral sym­bol in Moooi – it’s a play­ful piece, a sur­prise. Our prime min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern cam­paigned in a spirit of ‘re­lent­less pos­i­tiv­ity’. Do you have some­thing in com­mon with her? If you’re not pos­i­tive, you are bet­ter to shut up. If you are a hum­ble per­son that’s fine, but when [like me], you want to try and en­large your­self, you are re­spon­si­ble for what flows from you. That is true if you are talk­ing to your neigh­bours but more so if you are talk­ing to the world – there’s an ex­po­nen­tial in­flu­ence.

You once turned bat­tered soup tins into 24-karat ‘cans of gold’ which raised money to feed the home­less. Are you still an ac­tivist? In my own way – I’m just more ef­fi­cient at it as I have other things to do. I be­lieve de­sign is po­lit­i­cal but we don’t per­ceive it as such be­cause it is sel­dom in con­trast to the sta­tus quo. It doesn’t hurt be­cause it doesn’t at­tack. Right now I’m work­ing in the Mid­dle East. I have al­ways wanted to do the in­te­rior de­sign for a mosque, so at the studio we’ve de­vel­oped soft­ware to trans­late the very def­i­nite his­tor­i­cal ge­om­e­try of the Is­lamic cul­ture into a new vis­ual lan­guage. We call it ‘SFM’ (Study for Mosque). The pat­terns are printed into rugs. Our print­ing tech­nol­ogy prints 12 dots per square mil­lime­tre so you can achieve un­prece­dented depth. By work­ing in the Mid­dle East it’s eas­ier to stay con­nected [with that cul­ture and re­li­gion]. I may not be chang­ing the world, but it’s im­por­tant to pay re­spect and be re­spected.

Pho­tog­ra­phy Joe Hock­ley



4 1. The ‘Mesh­mat­ics’ chan­de­lier by Rick Tege­laar on show at the ECC show­room in Auck­land. 2. Mar­cel Wan­ders dis­cusses his lat­est projects be­fore an au­di­ence gath­ered at ECC. 3. Wan­ders was joined in a panel dis­cus­sion with Nat Cheshire of Cheshire...

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