Design blocks: Interview with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders
Form, function, art
Known for his ability to create stunning design pieces that tread the fine line between art and function, Marcel Wanders' oeuvre includes collaborations with uber premium brands including Baccarat and Christofle. Now, in The city for Design Days Dubai, Buro 24/7 Middle East spoke exclusively with the Dutch design master to talk inspiration, trends and his dream project...
What do you think of the design industry in Dubai?
I think there is no industry per se but there is still a lot of craft and a lot of imagination. The awareness of the value of that creation is also growing and more people are getting excited about it. It's exciting to see it develop into the future.
What is lacking in Dubai to take design to the next level?
I think it just needs time. This country has an amazing history and culture. The fact that local designers can celebrate that more than other areas in the world is something very special. The designers in this region are able to create a type of design that is international yet truly local. It makes me very happy because a lot of people make the same stuff but here people really create something different. This makes the world a more interesting place.
Can you just run through your creative process?
It's quite hard to say because there are differences in the process for product design and interior design. Product designing in a way is like sculpting marble, where you have a big block of material and you take away pieces of it with a very clear idea and objective. On the other hand, interior designing is akin to running an opera where you have so many elements that go into it.
Another way to also look at my process is that all my ideas, my love for colours and everything else, are like little puzzle pieces and they all go into one big box. The company that I go to also has a big box. So now we have 50,000 pieces and I'm going to have to make a puzzle from about 100 pieces. This is the process; you put stuff together and you take out what doesn't work and so on.
In the end though, there is that one final piece that just fits perfectly in the big beautiful puzzle and you're done. That is the beauty of design. Nothing is on its own and it always has to be connected. In a way, designing is not making something new but making new connections, putting things together which were never together before.
Are you easily inspired?
Inspiration sits inside of me. I never switch off and I don't wish to. Inspiration is a fire that burns inside of me which is fuelled by questions; How do I do this? How do I create a world that is more sustainable, more humanistic, less technocratic, a world which truly celebrates humanity? These are the big questions and I get little parts of the answers all the time, little puzzle pieces. Even if I sit on a chair blindfolded, stuff still comes up because my questions are so important. Everything is an experience. I don't need to go for a holiday or read a book to take a break or to get inspired. I don't want to rest, I think it's boring.
Do you have a dream project?
I would really like to build a mosque. The reason that I want to do it is I think it would be a wonderful symbol for the world, that I, as a non-Muslim, is entrusted with such an important task. I would try to do an incredible job and it can be anywhere in the Middle East. This project isn't about creating discussion but simply about creating trust. We live in a world where those signs are needed. I think creativity, design and art are able to do magic in that area. It's a little bit of a responsibility and I would be honoured to do such a job.
Which direction is design heading for in the near future?
I have no idea. I don't look at things that way and try to say "well last year was green or wood"... For me there's just that fire and that is where I go. When I head a certain way, I hope the world would also follow in the same direction that I want to take it.