Marcel Wanders gives his thoughts on all things design, as he launches the Circus collection in collaboration with Alessi…
What makes a great designer
Using the power of the imagination and always offering more rather than less. Seeking durability and timelessness as a sustainable strategy. But a more interesting question is, what makes a great design? To me, great design is so many things all the same time. It is emotional, functional and responsive. It creates an unwritten dialogue, a connection, between itself and those who experience it.
How do product design and interior design overlap?
They are very different disciplines. But the brainstorming phase, when everything is possible and open, when you’re throwing ideas without any restrictions is fantastic and liberating. The acceptance and sharing of visions is when we grow the most. We always take a holistic approach to the design. Both in product as in interior, we start with the story that we want to tell and the experience we want you to have when you use a product or when you live in an interior.
How did you come up with the idea for the Circus collection?
We were very inspired by the challenge of combining the functionality of kitchenware with the imagination and pageantry of the circus. With the concept of the circus, and the surprising display its known for, we were able to bring colourful delight and energy to what Alessi has built its reputation upon. Since its beginning, Alessi has been the standard for excellence in the area of kitchenware, particularly with stainless steel. Knowing this, we explored how we could merge colour and stainless steel in fun, unexpected ways. This collection was an amazing undertaking. We worked on the entire set for five years.
Why did you choose to work with Alessi and launch the Circus collection at Harrods?
Since its beginning, Alessi has been the standard for excellence in the area of kitchenware, particularly with stainless steel. I wanted to collaborate with them in the deepest roots of the company. But do so in a way that brings an innovative approach to stainless steel while adding another level of creativity. Knowing this, we explored how we could merge colour and stainless steel in fun, unexpected and unique ways. We were very inspired by the challenge of combining the functionality of kitchenware with the imagination and pageantry of the circus. Due to the artistry, authenticity and craftmanship of these collectible pieces, the launch of the collection at Harrods made perfect sense!
What kind of interior can you picture the collection?
I design with a wink and believe that design need to free itself from its modernistic dogmas and step into the contemporary renaissance of humanism. There can be a holistic humanist future that is fun, playful and can benefit us all. I imagine the collection in a careful, meticulous and unconventional interior that surprises us. A place where we are tickled to a euphoric return to our childish innocence. In this interior, each room gains its own personality, becoming the protagonist of a sequence of the narrative, while providing the user’s intent.
What sort of style is your own home?
At my home, as in all my interiors, storytelling touches naivety and irrationality, the inner voice of ordinary daydreams. Its both an oneiric and an intimate and deeply personal dreamscape. When I designed it I had a Lewis Carroll quote playing in the back of my mind: ‘There is a Place. Link no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger!’ (Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll).
What interior designers and brands do you love working with?
It is exciting to collaborate with clients. They come in with their identity and expertise, and we are challenged to use that to come up with a product we both get to fall in love with. If you take a look at the Circus collection we did with Alessi, you can see the meticulous stainless steel work Alessi is traditionally known for and the coloured imaginative technology we developed for them with the launch of ‘Fatman’ in 2012. We work with clients we respect and can learn from, more than collaborating, we inspire and stretch each other to go beyond the comfort zone.
Is there an interior scheme or building in the UK which inspires you?
Inspiration…Its difficult to calculate the meaning of this word because its been misused so much. Mostly in a very superficial way, this or that trend. I’ve always thought about inspiration in a medieval way. I think knights were inspired to go to war to save virgins. Something that really became their destiny, and which was the reason they existed. Mostly I admire all the anonymous craft people from past ages, who built beautiful things with their hands and their minds. Things that have survived the passage of time and that we still admire today. All the stucco, carving and iron work we have trouble manufacturing today with our super-efficient industrial processes. I admire and strive for the love for the detail they once possessed. So anyone who also understands this authenticity, craftsmanship and timelessness has my heart!
Marcel Wanders X Alessi Circus Collection is available from Harrods Cook shop, on the Second Floor.