Marcel Wanders is a Dutch designer and art director in the Powerhouse Studio in Amsterdam. He is internationally known best for his Knotted Chair design.
Early Years of Education and the Founding of Moooi
Born in Boxtel, on 2 July 1963, Wanders graduated cum laude from the Hogeschoolvoor de Kunsten Institute of the Arts Arnhem in 1988 after being expelled from the Design Academy Eindhoven.
In 2000 he opened his studio in Amsterdam, gaining attention in 1996 with his Knotted Chair, which paired high tech materials with ‘low tech’ production methods. In 2001 Wanders co-founded the design label Moooi, of which he is co-owner and art director.
In 2014 his Powerhouse Studio counted around 50 international design specialists over 1700 projects for private clients and premium brands such as Alessi, Bisazza, KLM, Flos, Swarovski, and Puma, among others.
Interior projects have become increasingly important in Marcel’s work, embraced for their enveloping of people in multi-layered, sensory experiences. Notable projects to date include such iconic interior architectural concepts as the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, Kameha Grand Hotel in Bonn, the Mondrian South Beach Hotel in Miami, Quasar Istanbul Residences, and the Villa Moda flagship store in Bahrain – to name but a few – as well as private residences in Amsterdam and Mallorca.
Marcel Wanders Studio
Located in Amsterdam the Marcel Wanders firm is a leading product and interior design studio credited with 1,900+ iconic projects. Under the creative leadership of Marcel Wanders, who is supported by Gabriele Chiave since 2014, the multi-disciplinary team of 40 breathes creativity across a multitude of projects. The studio’s work brings to life smart and innovative products, multi-sensory hospitality interiors, surprising in-flight tableware, sophisticated cosmetics, private homes and so much more
Some of the company’s clients include premium brands such as Alessi, Baccarat, Bisazza, Christofle, Kosé Corporation, Flos, KLM, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Louis Vuitton, Morgans Hotel Group, Puma and Swarovski. Today, many of Marcel Wanders’ designs are celebrated in some of the most renowned museums in the world, including the Centre Pompidou (FR), MoMA (US), and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL).
The Contemporary Renaissence of Humanism
Many of Marcel Wanders designs combine recognizable archetypes and historical influences with innovative materials.
Rooted in a humanistic perspective, the Dutch designer brings back humanity in the technocratic world of design, ushering in what he calls ‘the Contemporary Renaissance of Humanism’.
Creating a reality in which designer, craftsperson and user feel welcomed and embraced. With each new project, Marcel Wanders defies design dogma, preferring to focus instead on the holistic, romantic, surreal, archetypical, rather than the technocratic.
Image source: https://www.marcelwanders.com/work/villa-moda-bahrain
The Knotted Chair: the Propeller to International Stardom
The Knotted Chair is probably the most famous piece of design made by Marcel Wanders, surely the project which helped propel the Dutch designer to international stardom in 1996.
Wanders’ Knotted Chair is made from lengths of hand-braided carbon fiber cord, over braided with aramid, a strong and lightweight synthetic material commonly used in the aerospace industry. The carbon cored cords are also impregnated with epoxy resin to provide rigidity.
The chair is manufactured by hanging the epoxy-soaked knotted structure in a wooden frame to dry, letting gravity define the final form of the seat. Thus, the chair has the delicate appearance of handcrafted macramé – a technique for making textiles using knotting rather than weaving – but is also extremely durable and light thanks to the knotted pattern which forms a space frame structure that is strong enough to support the weight of the person sitting in it.
Wanders produced the first prototypes himself before Italian furniture brand Cappellini manufactured a limited run of 1000 pieces. The chair was first presented in Milan and is now listed in the permanent collections of a number of prominent design museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the V&A museum in London.