It was 1996. Prince Charles and Lady Di got divorced, Braveheart won the Academy Award for best picture and the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, was born.
And Marcel Wanders, working at the Dutch design collective Droog, knotted rope to form a suspended chair, soaked it with epoxy to stiffen it and almost single handedly turned the attention of the design world from Italy to the Netherlands. The chair was a reaction against machined designs, form and minimalism.
It perfectly encapsulated the Droog philosophy recounted in their history on the website:
"Droog started in 1993, as a statement on design, a no-nonsense, down to earth design mentality opposed to the high style and form based world of design. In contrast, Droog proposed a highly conceptual approach, one captured by the Dutch word ‘droog’ meaning ‘dry’ or ‘wry’. This mentality has defined Droog as a conceptual design company over the last 16 years, and to a large extent, has defined Dutch design internationally."
Today, Marcel Wanders still designs for Droog and also for many major European contemporary design manufacturers. He is also art director and co-owner of Moooi, founded in 2000, to commission and manufacture original products for domestic and commercial spaces.
The current interest in design for pattern, the handmade and a conceptual but light-hearted approach was put into form with the Knotted Chair. The influence of Dutch design has spread throughout the industry and is still strong. A recent New York Times T Magazine article introduced the work of selected young designers. Out of 10 people featured, 5 had studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands and another team of two are designing for Moooi.
Lobby of Mondrian South Beach, interiors by Marcel Wanders
This post is part of a series on Dutch designers. (t.v.)
Marcel Wanders quotes from his website:
Icon (UK), August 2007
‘Design is not as it seems today- just a style!! It makes no sense to still follow the rules of ancient machinery. We can no longer fall in total awe at a tube being bent. We can no longer tell our audience that a product is better because it is easier to make it! Today the industry is able to follow humanity and make its most exciting dreams reality.
As we designers have to represent our public and their dreams instead of the machine and the anachronistic political dogmas it represents. We have to challenge the industry so they will learn to follow instead to lead.
It is on humanity that the design of the future must be built. With love, passion and poetry we will take design to new heights.’
Belle (AU) June – July 2007 – Kirsty de Garis
‘I think that’s what design is: you make connection between things that are not connected yet’.
Whitewall (USA) Summer 2007 Josephine Minutillo
‘ We’ve created a world of design that is larger and larger, therefore we have to aim higher and higher’
‘ I’ve tried all my life not to have a style. Now, if I’m really honest, I give myself more freedom to work with a sense of style than I did before’
Men’s Vogue (US) May-June 2007
‘I want to make sure we live in a world which is super fantastic. I like the material to decide for itself what it wants to be. The material knows better how it can look beautiful’
Marcel about HE speaker boxes: ‘Why, for God’s sake, are speaker boxes square? Why? Speakers themselves are always round. It’s probably because the machines cut straight lines. That is the automatic pilot of the designer, to make things in an easy way. I think that’s terrible. You deserve far better. You deserve the best. Life is really boring enough’
Elle Décor (in) April – May 2007
‘Of course I want to change the world. People who say they can’t underestimate themselves’.
Home Beautiful (AU) May 2007
‘ I always try to concentrate on durability. I create objects that will continue to be relevant, things that people will keep for a lifetime’
‘In the past the industry wasn’t capable of creating elaborate objects, but today we need to do more for our audience. Design should be driven by humanity, not technology’.
‘If I have any basic motivation it’s to inspire, so my biggest project is my life and I will make it a masterpiece’
The Sydney Morning Herald (AU), March 2007
‘I think these designs display a love of making rather than showing what technology is capable of’
‘ I think it’s important to pull things from the past and, showing respect for it, while connecting to the present’
‘Things should be imperfect. I think that’s why the knotted lounge chair made its mark. People were tiring of the perfection associated with the minimalist aesthetic of the 90s’
Interior design (USA) January 2007
‘ Unlike product design, interiors are about theater. They lead you from one idea to the next and the next’
Dwell (US) April 2006
‘Philosophy is not one truth, but thousands of truths. You don’t have to believe in just one thing. When you choose one idea, you close yourself to the rest.’
Marcel about Personal Editions:
‘The core of what we do in the studio is experiment, to truly innovate the market, to come up with new ideas, new thoughts and new visions for design’
Marcel about Happy Hour Chandelier:
I’m not the type of designer who’s really interested in construction and technology, the material aspect. I’m more interested in my audience and their experience, how to make it more exciting’
Beautiful Women 2006
“Luxury is to live an exciting passionate life in comfort and commitment, to feel you are special and make a difference while achieving personal growth, to contribute to the greater good and feel you share love”.
“Luxury starts where functionality ends and where the true value is personal and so has no price or reason”.