In Marcel Wanders’ Studio, redubbed Westerhuis, in the heart of Amsterdam, fantasy encounters tradition and emotions meld with innovation. It is here that over 50 international designers let them- selves be guided and inspired by the creative flair of Wanders, interpreted in interior and product design projects. The person responsible for overseeing these multidisciplinary collisions is Art Director Gabriele Chiave who, in common with Wanders, shares the same design philosophy aimed at enhancing beauty and enriching the human experience. Gabriele Chiave introduces us to this world…
Marcel Wanders motto is “Create an environment of love, Live with passion and make our most exciting dreams come true”. How do you realize it in your projects?
Each new project is an opportunity to push the boundaries and surpass what we have done before. We want more, not less. Our entire workspace has been organized to inspire designers to experiment and to facilitate the creation of beautiful, complex designs, with a dose of humor. Product, interior, 3D and graphic designers are all in the same space together and the teams for each project are interchangeable. Our studio is filled with our past designs and proto- types for new ones, so we can always learn from our successes and be in a constant state of progress. From the beginning of the idea to the realization of the concept, we bring our unique identity into everything we do and steep ourselves into the culture and meaning of the project. Our goal is to trigger emotions through design, and to do that we want to surround ourselves with the work that we love.
Which are the “dreams” that today you are called to realize?
The market of products and interiors is flooded with functional designs, and they often lack an emotional connection to people. Western modernism in design seems to care less for the grandeur, craftsmanship and detail present in products and interiors of the past. That is why it is so exciting to work on new projects in the Middle East, and to have exhibitions, hotels, and residences in Asia. These are places that treasure extraordinary structure.This challenges us to be bolder and reach higher, and to connect the distinctive character of the old with the vitality and excitement of modern innovations. The present society needs meaningful products which reach out to the hearts and minds of people. We always strive to go beyond functionality and to create products that are sustainable by la- sting a lifetime or longer.
How much your origins and personal experiences have influenced your design? When I was growing up I lived abroad in a variety of places. The first nine years of my career I studied in Italy and that is where I built up a deep understanding of the art and process of design. I have a great respect for the richness of the experiences I have had and it makes me more aware of the variations in perception and understanding of cultures when I am engaged in projects in non-western settings. As a result, being involved in design work all this time and in these different places makes me more excited about the endless possibilities of my work every day.
According to your experience, what is your opinion about Italian design and companies?
Back in the ‘70s, Italian companies were leading in their field and still play a strong role today. The difference is that the Italian industry has evolved since then and opened up to international designers and influences. This is possibly a natural development and consequence of a globalized world. It means the industry is willing to expand beyond its own borders and enduring history. They embrace the cooperation of all these new disciplines, ideas and cultures in order to achieve even better and more beautiful designs.
Referring to the latest works of the Studio, which is your planning approach?
Every part of the project has to come together to create a whole. There we are extremely precise and specific with every small detail. In interior design it’s critical to keep the total comprehensive picture in mind as the elements of the design all have to interact with each other. For example, at the moment we are working on a six star hotel in the Middle East. This is very exciting, and we are working hard on creating this new type of experience which brings out the most remarkable aspects of the Middle Eastern culture, creates a new standard in hospitality operations which we combine with our traits and personality. It feels like we are making history!