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A couple of weeks ago, Jan-Willem Poels, who is a partner at SuperOrange, the U.S. reps for Moooi, invited Jaime and I to a talk that Marcel Wanders was giving at the Museum of Arts and Design. It was a pretty intimate gathering that took place in an auditorium in the museum. Marcel spoke, or actually sort of mumbled his way through his presentation, all the while commenting on the fact that he was discombobulated. I have horrible hearing so I missed a lot of what he said, but I was very taken by something he said: in his design, he tries to connect his mother and his daughter, meaning that he draws together styles from the past and the present. He infuses his designs with historical elements, and then injects them with a heavy dose of steroids thus bringing them to their current present time.
Regardless of what you think about Marcel and his designs, I think we could all agree that there is nothing shy about the way he works. He is a brave brave man who has never been afraid to stick his neck out and has an incredibly fun and adventurous spirit. By far, the best part of the evening was chatting with Marcel afterwards. After a flock of women had stopped chit-chatting with this celebrity designer, Jan-Willem introduced us and we had a lovely chat. He told us how thick his skin has to be to design the way that he does and that he’s had to put up with a lot of really harsh criticism. He also spoke a bit more about how discombobulated he felt and I thought he was incredibly genuine and friendly.
This really made me think about interior designers on the whole. There are some incredibly gifted designers who design beautiful, well-curated interiors, which few can fault. I am in awe of designers with impeccable taste. They have a talent and a gift. I do, however, believe that their life is made a bit easier since they appeal to a larger audience. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are some stick their necks out a bit and who even go so far as to challenge the standards of good taste further. I definitely feel like the latter. I am no Marcel Wanders, and don’t consider myself as flamboyant and fabulous as he is, but I do understand why you need to be brave to design outside of the box. My mom taught me at an early age to stand out. She instructed me to sing the loudest in the school choir so that she could hear me, and always encouraged us not to follow the flock but to stand out and be noticed in whatever we did. I guess her advice stuck.
It took me a while to figure out that the way I design is not for everyone, but I am completely and utterly comfortable with that now. I think I have also come to realize I probably appeal to a smaller audience than a lot of other designers, and that’s ok too. At the end of the day, I love what I do, and feel proud of my bold personal style and the interiors that I have designed. So thank you Marcel for being so brave and being such an inspiration!
P.P.S. He also has a show at the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art that I am hoping to get to sometime soon.