LOS ANGELES — First as a member of the famously irreverent design collective Droog, and later through his own studio Moooi, Marcel Wanders has earned international acclaim for his eclectic designs, which often marry industrial processes with meticulous handcraft. He has produced chandeliers for Flos, stools for Magis, pillows for B&B Italia, tableware for Alessi, and, more recently, hotels and retail spaces from Bahrain to Miami. Now in the third decade of his prolific career, Wanders will appear as keynote speaker at Dwell on Design Los Angeles 2015 to discuss his unique definition of functionalism and his 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, embodies the joy Wanders takes in playing with expectations. Other examples of his distinctive approach include the Egg vase, 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, says Wanders, “with an extra o for extra beautiful”). As art director, he’s retained the firm’s original focus on furnishings, while expanding his horizons to interior design. In 2008, he designed both the Mondrian South Beach hotel’s dreamscape interiors and Villa Moda’s richly textural flagship store in Bahrain. Last year, a major retrospective of his work was held at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. The designer is presently bringing his modern touch to the new Quasar Residences in Istanbul.
Wanders has ambitions to match those of his idol, Philippe Starck, and they continue to grow. “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.”