Marcel Wanders | Making Dreams Come True
“I want people to know that I am driven to make people smile, and to surprise them. I truly want to make people’s dreams come true.”
Daring, immersive, romantic, and poetic. Marcel Wanders and his multi-disciplinary team of 40 know how to weave a story with design. They understand how to evoke emotion to help us enter a magical mood-altering adventure with no limits to creative exploration. The success of this studio in both product and interior disciplines is credited with over 1,900 iconic projects. Ideas are Marcel’s addiction and so we delve into the process behind his genius.
When Marcel and his team begin a project, they consider everything they can about the purpose, the why behind what they are doing. They think about the people who will experience the design and what connections can be made. With interior designs, they take much of their inspiration from the surrounding regions and culture of each project. For example, the inspiration for the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (2012) was actually the city of Amsterdam itself and its long history of cultivating creativity. Located at the center of the city, a concept that was very clear to Marcel, was that of exploration in that he feels you start at your central place of origin, then extend your life and imagination from there. He has this incredible affinity for taking things from different ages and vividly bringing them to life and in this case – the age of navigation – utilizing an illusory cosmos with mystical planetary alignments. The elements then incorporated throughout the design, and the result is a destination experience that stays with people long after they leave.
Marcel explores many emotions and experiences when working on a project. They range from elation and surprise to frustration and ire. For him creating a design is like caring for a baby, and he invests himself in every way to nurture it in order to present it to the world in its best light. He also carefully considers the feelings he has for the people he designs for. Recently, when working on the Mondrian Doha (2017), he said, “I allowed everything in the local culture to influence and affect me in a personal way – from customs to clothing styles to architecture and even language. That region is so rich with heritage that it brought a heightened sense of reverence and responsibility to this project. Design is all about passion, and there is no creation without emotion.”
The part of the design process that inspires Marcel the most is when he spends time imagining how someone will first experience the design. He thinks about their reaction to an object or how they will physically move through a space. He wonders about how they will feel and the connections they will make. It was this way with Iberostar Grand Portals Nous (2017), as the studio aimed to forge a sense of humanity and create an environment of tranquility. Marcel wanted to establish a seamless experience from one area of the hotel to the next. He didn’t want for there to be a single moment of anxiousness or reservation but rather liberation found within a delightfully pampered experience. He wanted guests to have a lifestyle experience in Portals Nous – a place full of beauty, where all those who experience it connect with design in the most meaningful ways.
When he works closely with a client it has to be totally collaborative with as little hierarchy as possible. In the case of the Mondrian Doha (2017), it was particularly challenging because they had bring in so many elements of the culture, and had to agree on what would be the best representation for the region and the best ways to feature it. Using the concept of One Thousand and One Nights storytelling as their guide, they worked closely with SBE and Sam Nazarian, who were instrumental in helping the team define how the city has grown immeasurably over the past few years, transforming itself from a modest fishing village into a global visionary capital. They worked together to help design within this thriving artistic region, brimming with innovation and possibilities. Although it can at times be difficult to get everyone on the same page Marcel feels when you can achieve this you have the ability to create a destination where guests never have to leave because all of their desires will be met.
His process begins and ends with being open to anything, and therefore, bound by nothing. For Marcel inspiration can come from people, architecture, walking through a city and even daydreaming. He genuinely wants people to see and understand his passion for design.