A new, sober yet irreverent headquarters to host the creative factory of one of the most original designers on the European scene. In a typical 19th-century canal house in the heart of Amsterdam, old and new meet for an architectural interpretation of the design philosophy of Marcel Wanders

Marcel Wanders grabs and mixes, making hybrids of techniques and styles in a blend of various ingredients to trigger new and marvelous things. He is a wizard, cheerful and elegant, who seems to effortlessly produce by drawing on ideas and models from the past and the future. His design borders on totality, because it does not lurk only in objects, but expands to incorporate spaces, atmospheres, even people. The dream, Marcel Wanders says, is to create a work from A to Z, and the latest opportunity for his holistic and humanistic design has arrived, with the design of his new studio.


Marcel Wanders
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Marcel Wanders grew up in Boxtel, the Netherlands, and in 1988 graduated with honors from the Arnhem School of the Arts. It owes its fame to the iconic Knotted Chair, created in 1996 for Droog Design. Today he collaborates with the main European contemporary design producers including Mooi of which he is founder. Many of his creations have been chosen for the most prestigious design collections and exhibitions in the world and his works have appeared in the main design newspapers and magazines.

The interior design is  entirely under the control of the two creative directors, Marcel himself and the Italian Gabriele Chiave. Originally built in 1892 in the center of Amsterdam as a school for the Lutheran community, the gracious building has changed under Marcel Wanders to become a creative factory, and driving center of the Wandersworld.

 

On the ground floor, essentially set aside for welcoming guests, we find the reception area, two meeting rooms, the material library and the kitchen, as well as another space, the gallery, which serves as a photo studio but also to display the results of a career that is already packed with memorable pieces. Here you can come across the Lounge Chair made for the Objets Nomades collection of Louis Vuitton, the Eden Queen Carpet for Moooi, and some Personal Editions like the One Minute Sculptures, Mickey Mouse and Minnie, the Special Edition of Rijks, Masters of the Golden Age, the Babel Chair and the Bon Bon Chair Gold, which is made from crochet work and covered in gold (all for sale at Marcel Wanders’ online Boutique).

The relationship with the characteristics of the building exists, and it is important, even if we wanted fully contemporary spaces, we have respected the classic character of the place."

The staff of about 50 works on many projects, and is scattered through the three upper levels, where the workspaces are a living exhibition of Marcel Wanders’ design. The first floor is for the graphic and the product design teams, who work surrounded by pieces made for international brands including Decorté, KLM, Lladró, Magis, and Moooi, a separate company to his own studio that Marcel Wanders co-founded in 2001 and is, art director of.

 

The second floor hosts the interior design department and the creative direction team: on view, are a special edition for Christofle and the Monster Garden rug for Pierre Frey, that mixes abstract ornaments and grotesque images of plants and animals in a fantastic assemblage. On the third level there are the VIP meeting room and the management and marketing office.

 

His design borders on totality, because it does not lurk only in objects, but expands to incorporate spaces, atmospheres, even people."

In the new studio, Marcel Wanders has set out to express the social, shared character of the creative and productive process, gathering all the spaces around a central patio for visual connection. “The relationship with the characteristics of the building exists, and it is important,” Marcel explains: “even if we wanted fully contemporary spaces, we have respected the classic character of the place, conserving the architectural structure and some of the original materials, like the exposed brick walls, and we have used carpets, wallpaper and wooden floors that fit perfectly into a traditional building, transforming the small inner courtyard into a luminous void that connects all the zones.”

 

The world of Marcel Wanders glows with playful irony, creative games that suggest figurations and techniques from the past, projected into a contemporary imaginary. For example, experimenting with ancient techniques like Delft Blue, the Dutch technique par excellence (of Ming origin), re-interpreted by Wanders in One Minute style and contaminated  with dripping, a method made famous by Jackson Pollock, to produce delightful but also fierce pieces. In short, he manipulates signs, icons and techniques from different cultures with postmodern nonchalance, blending antique and modern, Ming Dynasty and Delft ceramics, Walt Disney and Action Painting.

An integral part of the whole studio atmosphere is the dreamlike image of Wanders himself, charismatic, elegant, that captures him in action, not here but everyehere, portraying the hues of Delftware with the intense blue of his eyes and white apparel, placing hands dipped in paint onto the pale body of Mickey Mouse.

Project by Marcel Wanders - Photos Nicole Marnati