Marcel Wanders and Cindy Allen In Conversation at ICFF 2019

Hall of Famer Marcel Wanders and Cindy Allen share the stage at ICFF. Photography by Jenna Bascom.

On May 21, Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen sat down with product and interior designer Marcel Wanders at ICFF for a wide-ranging discussion about his early career path, the origins of Moooi, and his forward-looking design philosophies. “I always call him Mr. Wander-ful,” Cindy joked in her introduction. “He’s fearless in creating his own worlds.” She noted his body of work, now approaching 2,000 pieces, and the innovative approach that has made him an inspiration in the industry.

Wanders recalled the somewhat inauspicious start to his career, when he was expelled from the Design Academy Eindhoven. That setback could’ve spelled the end, but instead it only stoked his creative fire and gave him the freedom to pursue his own ideas. “We were educated in strategy,” he said. “But I knew design could be more than strategy, it could be culture. I wanted to experiment and play wild. Why make elevator music when I could make Bach?”

Read more: Hall of Fame Honoree Marcel Wanders Celebrates Humanity with Artistic Freedom and Whimsy

The United Crystal Woods glassware collection for Baccarat, 2010. Photography courtesy of Marcel Wanders.

He also discussed the origins of the brand he co-founded, Moooi. The name is a play on the Dutch word “mooi,” meaning beautiful, he revealed. Adding the additional "o" created a word that was visually striking enough to serve as both a name and a symbol, inspired by Audi’s four ring logo. Wanders' company has now expanded to a “family” of close to 80 designers.

In response to a question about sustainability, he suggested that using recycled materials was an incomplete solution. “The idea of recycling legitimizes consumption,” he explained. Even better than buying something new but sustainably made is reusing or repurposing an existing item. Wanders noted that he tries to design in a timeless style that can be used far into the future. “We should be making the antiques of tomorrow," he said. "That’s better than making than the trash of tomorrow… even if it’s recycled trash.”

Read more: Moooi Delivers Elegant, High-Tech Solution to Counterfeit Designs

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