Dutch rebel designer Marcel Wanders co-hosts a Euromaxx Special

Dutch rebel designer Marcel Wanders co-hosts a Euromaxx Special


Today I am in Amsterdam, a very creative city
that is home to very creative people. And one of theme will be helping me present
today´s show. Hello and welcome to this very special edition
of euromaxx with me, your host Meggin Leigh and my co-host today, Dutch interior designer
and product designer Marcel Wanders. Thank you so much for being with us. Wonderful to have you here in Amsterdam.,
it’s beautiful. Thank you for inviting us to your studio. It’s a crazy place. Here we’re in your studio in Amsterdam. You also helped us design our show today,
so we are going to see some of the reports which you helped put together. A pleasure. You know, you have been described as bold,
audacious a sort of rebel in the design world. Do you accept this title? I think I probably have to. In a way I think design is about innovations,
about changing ideas, it is about deciding what’s happening today and how we should maybe
change that for tomorrow. Things have to change, rules that are set
have to be cut into pieces and we have to make new rules. So, yes, I am probably someone that is making
some people nervous a bit. What about your employees? You have around 70 people working for you? In this studio we’re about 70 people, divided
amongst interior design, product design and organisation. How you organise them, not only maintain the
business, but maintain your concepts and your brand? Well, to start with it’s a team of people. I don’t manage them. If I would manage them, we would be way smaller,
because I would be the worst. But I have really great people that, you know,
help me with it. And then obviously of course from the creative
side I take the lead, I have five people that with me together create the creative direction
of the studio. Of course, you know, I have the control that
to happen, but I think with this five people I can oversee all the process really well,
whether it is interior or product design. Obviously if you are longer designing at some
point certain things you don’t wanna do it again and again. But for other people it’s really great for
the first time to do this joint. So, I take a different role and I like it
that way. Marcel Wanders was been working in the industry
for more or less 20 years now? Ok. More than 20 years and always creating innovative
products and interior. We wanna take a closer look at his life and
career so far. Marcel Wanders’ iconic Knotted Chair propelled
the Dutch designer to fame in 1996. It is now exhibited in the New York Museum
of Modern Art! Woven out of carbon fibre cord, it has a light,
airy quality to it – yet it’s also sturdy. Wanders’ designs are playful, emotional and
often opulent….with lots of gold accents. His modern creations often draw on the past
for inspiration. He’s said to be a workaholic, who never seems
to run out of ideas. And he thinks rules are there to be broken. In his Amsterdam studio Wanders and his team
work on new designs for customers around the globe. Wanders counts many big brands among his clients. In 2001, he founded the Moooi label. It is a platform for young designers. Its showroom is located just below his studio. ‘Mooi’ is, quite fittingly, the Dutch word
for ‘beautiful’. Wanders has also made a name for himself as
an interior designer. He’s created the look of 7 different hotels
across the world. Each one is unique. The interior of this Doha hotel – his latest
project – evokes One-Thousand-and-One-Nights, while… …the design of this Zurich hotel draws inspiration
from typically Swiss products, like chocolate. On Majorca, he mixes Mediterranean flair with
avant-garde styling. While Amsterdam’s “Andraz Prinsengracht”
hotel features Delft blue tiles, bell-shaped lamps and tulip-shaped chairs. Marcel Wanders is an ecclectic mind, who seamlessly
blends the old with the new. Marcel and I have decided to go for a quick
stroll through Amstedams Jordaan-District where his studio is located. So, you’ve created an enormous body of work. What would you say the unifying element is
in all that? It’s difficult to say, but I think there is
an underlying vision behind the work, there is a philosophy behind what the work if you
want. The philosophy is about the ability to create
the type of design that is more durable, more romantic, more humanistic and therefore engages
with people in a deeper and longer way. ((So, work that finds a way with people long
term. That’s I think, hopefully combines these things.)) What would you say is your signature in all
of your designs? Well I hope it’s exactly that. And I hope that for the rest we find as much
as possible diversity. You know, I don’t want to have per se work,
that people can visually easily recognize. We have works that are very different. Some are very clean in their designs, some
are more wild and have different references and I think that’s a good thing. I don’t want to have a type of work that is
always the same. I wanna feel them alive. I wanna feel that I am inventing myself over
and over again. ((And sometimes we do works that goes in series
they are kind of talking about this one idea, but on the other side I think we wanna have
a body of work that’s surprising people and that they maybe cannot recognize.)) How does this begin in effect? How does the creative process for you begin? We do products every day and we do interiors. Interiors are very different, than products. If you do interiors you really start with
investigating where are we, you know. If we do a project I really have to understand
people are going to ask what for? What’s happening here? Who are these people? What can I do? What’s this? What’s the history? What’s the future? What am I breathing? If you do a product, you really need an idea,
you need to investigate, you need to find a great idea! If you have that great idea, you have to imagine
you make a teaspoon. You have to find a reason, why people need
or possibly wanna have a new teaspoon. What’s so great about that thing? What’s gonna be the innovation? If you have that idea, you follow that idea
and you can possibly make a good product. We were speaking of ideas, I mean here we
are in the middle of Amsterdam. This city is filled with history and ideas. How much of it does it impact your work? It’s a while ago, that Achille Castiglioni
died, it’s an Italian designer. And I was asked: Marcel, can you write something
in the Milanese newspaper about him, like a review? And I wrote a piece as if I present him as
my uncle, that was always with me, that always looked over my shoulder, that looked in my
drawings, that give me advice. The relation you have with peers that are
amazing and he was an example for me. So I started to look at the creatives around
me. I started to look at them in a different way
and I look at them as family. So here in this city, I have so much family
in the past, Rembrandt is in this street, Vermeer was on this street. Amazing creative family has lived here. And that is something that I feel and I walk
these bridges, I say to my daughter look around. This is all for us, for free. We did nothing for this. Someone else dug these waters. Someone else made these bridges. We can just be here and enjoy. It’s an amazing gift. Alright, we wanna take a closer look at this
amazing city and some of the Dutch history that has inspired our guest today. Picture-perfect canals, artistic masterpieces
and economic prosperity — all symols of the Dutch Golden Age. In the 17th century, Amsterdam’s population
rapidly expanded as the Netherlands’s naval and mercantile power soared to new heights. New affluent districts emerged and 0:20 three
new canals were laid out – the Prinsen-, Keizers- und Herengracht – for which the city is famous
today. The newer expansions, the more recent expansions
were usually the places where the most influential people would moved to. Because then it had become too crowded in
the older parts of the city and the newer parts obviously gave the possibilities to
build on a grander scale. Like this elegant house built in 1671 for
a wealthy merchant. Behind the spacious home there’s a garden
and coachman’s house – a typical set-up back then to ensure all the comforts desired by
a propserous merchant and his family. In 1884 the house was acquired by a powerful
merchant family, the van Loons. They were involved in the international trade
and also in insurance policies. So over the course of time due to these trade
activities they were gaining some fortune and wealth. Today part of the home is a museum. The finely furnished rooms bring to life the
grand lifestyle of the wealthy Dutch merchants. You enter you enter through a 17th century
facade and then you walk through the 18th century and the 19th century and you see all
the additions that the different owners, including the van Loons, have made to the house. As international trade flourished, exotic
goods flooded into the country. Like fine porcelain from China, which gave
rise to a new domestic pottery industry. Chinese porcelain becomes really popular in
the Netherlands and is highly demanded. But there is not a lot on the market and especially
from 1620 there is a civil war in China and the exports stops. It’s forbidden to export Chinese porcelain. So what do the people in Delft do? They start copying the Chinese porcelain as
white and bright as possible and as thin as possible and also the decoration is Asian
and Chinese. Today, the instantly-recognizable blue and
white Delft porcelain remains a popular classic. The Golden Age was also the heyday of Dutch
painting – the world’s finest collection is held in the Rijksmuseum. It’s home to such masterpieces as Rembrandt’s
Night Watch…. and Jan Vermeer’s Milkmaid. It was an explosion of genius that lasted
some 120 years. That’s why we call it the Golden Age – not
just in art, but in everything. Experts estimate that 17th century artists
created an amazing 10 million artworks in all. The life of the artist in the Golden Age wasn’t
exactly romantic – they were salesmen with clients. Their buyers had power and cash, and commssioned
artworks that reflected their status within their own everyday lives. So breakfast and still-lifes, portraits and
landscapes – all very idyllic and normal, everyday subjects. Echoes of the Golden Age still shape life
in the Netherlands today. For designer Marcel Wanders, they’ve served
as a source of inspiration on many of his projects. Staying with the Golden Age we have a masterpiece
of sorts here which you have created, a book dedicated to the old masters. Tell me how this project came about? A friend of mine, Steven Hond came with the
idea to make the book. We wanted to make the book and the table. And to make a book that really can live in
the shadow of these works. So we wanted to make a super interesting book! What is special about paintings is of course
the size, photography doesn’t have size, paintings have size. So with this big book we can show that. Of course, you see always the full image,
like you can see in every artbook. Then in this book, the first thing we do,
is we go to 100% cut out. So this is a cut out of the painting, the
real size. So you are not standing basically where Rembrandt
stood when he was painting. So you really have the same intimacy of the
painting. That is something I was super happy that we
could innovate books on that level right. That never happened before. Of course after 100% we go to bigger enlargement
and we go in more detail. But I think the interesting one is not the
enlargement, the interesting one is the real one. What was the response from the Rijksmuseum? The Rijksmuseum is super happy. We have been with them over the course of
3,5 years we were making it. Every time we showed them the progress and
more and more they started to be happy and now they fully embrace the project. Right over here I see something that actually
launched your career in 1996. “The knotted chair”. This put you on the international design map. Tell me a little bit more how that happened? It was a product that we did with a Droog
design, a Dutch gallery you could say. And they were inviting for a project that
was called dry tech. A project, that basically is about super strong
fibers. And we got educated at the university and
based on that I understood, wow, this is not some sheet material, this is textile. So, I really wanted to make a textile design. Instead of sheet, I started to make ropes. With ropes I could make a very open structure,
that became this piece. And it became an instant icon. An instant hit. And it is also a museum piece. How does something become iconic and everlasting? What are the elements that are needed? Well, if I would really know I would do it
all the time and it’s not so easy of course. But in a way it helps if something is maybe
very new at the moment of conceiving it, that could be technical or so. It helps if the philosophy behind it is maybe,
you know, a breakthrough in the history of design. And it helps of course if the image itself
is striking. Now this piece has kind of all these three
things, which is great. But I am sure, that also other things which
have become really important in design which are based on one or two of these elements. But, that’s basically I think how it works,
I don’t know. We wanna take a closer look to some at some
of the objects, which have made it into the history books of design. This is the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am
Rhein, southwestern Germany. Its collection includes some 20,000 works
that span 200 years of design history. The permanent exhibition features about 400
classic items. Mateo Kries is one of the museum’s directors. So what exactly IS good design? “There’s no one formula for good design but
of course there are elements that you’ll see in many of the most outstanding designs. For example, functionality, a certain timelessness,
the use of new materials – but it’s often also about expression and originality.” In the 19th century, furniture was a mishmash
of styles and eras. The profession of ‘designer’ only emerged
as industrialization got underway. The Red and Blue Chair designed in 1917 by
Gerrit Rietveld is an early milestone in design history, an interaction of vertical and horizontal
planes. “In terms of design history, it’s significant
because it completely revolutionized the idea of what a chair can be. Decades later, designers exploring the potential
of the chair were still referencing pieces like this.” New and innovative materials have always been
a source of inspiration to designers. Working at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, Marcel
Breuer broke new ground for furniture experimenting with steel tubing. “You can see through it, all it consists of
are the frame and the surfaces, the surfaces are all made of textiles, like sails on a
mast. It’s a very lightweight construction. Breuer wanted you to feel like you were sitting
on a pillow of air.” After World War Two, designers returned to
traditional materials such as wood. Forms became more organic and design slowly
began to filter into the lives of ordinary people. The next revolution in design was looming…. …in the shape of plastic. In the 1950s, Danish designer Verner Panton
and (2:36) Eero Aarnio from Finland introduced a new aesthetic that was bright, colourful
and futuristic. “Society was in flux, the younger generation
was rebelling against the older generation – and the way their homes looked. Designers seized on that and aimed to create
objects that ushered in a new era in interior design.” Design is always a reflection of society. By the 1980s, the ‘me’ decade when conspicuous
consumption held sway, design became a way of expressing individuality. “There no longer tended to be a dominant style
the way there had been in previous decades. Designers developed thier own signature look
that set them apart. Design became more about brands.” Nowadays, technology such as 3-D printers
is once again revolutionizing the field of design – and also widening its potential. Designers today have ever greater social responsibility. “We’re all aware that there’s now a surfeit
of goods, far too much is being produced, but there are all sorts of social and political
probelms that need solving. So designers can’t afford to say: oh, I’m
not interested in all that, I’m only interested in aesthetics.” It remains interesting to see how designers
will continue to tackle the problems of today’s world. Back in Amsterdam. I visit the Mooi Design Studio which is in
the same building as Marcels Offices. Here you can find creations by him and many
other designers. So you’ve been called the designer of a new
age. Would you say that this is a good example
of what that means? Well, designers design for tomorrow basically. These things obviously, you know, are for
us, for our new age. They’re based on the past, they’re based on
a culture that we have in the Netherlands, the Delft blue painted ceramics. And I take that further in my own way, as
a designer of the new age. Here we have arguably one of your signature
works , a one minute sculpture. Do you really do this in one minute? Industry is great and I am working for the
industry, soit creates objects that are repeatedly perfect and always the same. Wonderful! But they are always the same, they have no
personality, they have no flaws and so at some point I started to make things where
there is a flaw in the product, there is a little mistake. So every object that you have functions, but
is different. And so here, I am the machine myself and I
make a flaw everytime, I make a different thing everytime. Everytime it is a little sculpture, but everytime
automatically it becomes different and so it has personality for that reason Is there a flaw in this? It’s full of flaws. Haha, alright. We are standing in the midst of your showroom
Moooi. This was created more or less as a platform
for young designers, wasn’t it? Tell me a little bit more about that. Yeah, it was created because nobody wanted
to make my work and so I thought I will do it myself. And still today Moooi has that function for
a lot of designers. We made the first works of important designers
these days. And I think that’s a good thing. It’s difficult for a designer to get a podium. And we’ve created one. And who are some of the international designers
you’ve featured here? We work with… Maarten Baas, Bertjan Pot, van Lieshout, Ross
Lovegrove, we have Front Design and Nika Zupanc. A lot of great names. Big names. When it comes to design it seems many people,
including our viewers might thing that design is something exclusive and extremely expensive
and only reserved for an elite level. How do you respond to that? Design is culture. Ok. Design is culture. And it is free. Design is for free. You all have just been watching a show. You are not interested in buying a sofa, you
are interested in design. Maybe it is interesting, maybe it’s doing
something, Maybe it rings a bell, maybe it changes my life, maybe it can make my life
more interesting. So design is about that. It’s not about buying a sofa you know. The sofa is about what it means for you. Ownership is not for free. But It’s only a very little part of design. So I think it’s good I have a job and it’s
for free. Hehe wow. Maybe some might argue that. But I think it’s a very interesting way of
putting it. Marcel Wanders we are out of time, but I wanna
thank you again for co-hosting euromaxx with me today and having us into your showroom
and in your studio. And to the rest of you euromaxx viewers we’ve
come to the end of the show. I wanna say thank you all for tuning in and
if you want to keep up with the program you can always check out our social media pages. From me and the rest of the crew here from
Amsterdam. Thank you very much for tuning in and we see
you again soon.


2 thoughts on “Dutch rebel designer Marcel Wanders co-hosts a Euromaxx Special

  1. He is so right ,Amsterdam is a beautiful place not only for residents but tourists too.The culture and outstanding design is everywhere.Thank you for taking me back to this delightful city.Love it.

  2. Marcel Wanders has been working in the industry for more than 20 years (2:50). He explains what are his sources of inspiration (9:31) and what he considers the hallmarks of good design (15:53).

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