Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Wonderful Marcel Wanders
Sigh. It's Marcel Wanders. The charismatic Dutch product designer is in town for London Design Festival, and to launch a range of gifts for M&S - That's Not My Age met him at the preview party last night. Wanders is friendly, funny and very tall (probably around 6' 5, if you must know), and, as you can see, good-looking. Even in my crappy photo. By the end of the evening, a collective middle-aged crush had enveloped the room and a gaggle of forty-something women were planning to move to the Netherlands.
But what about the product? People, this is being hailed as the Democracy of Design. The 48-year-old charmer says, ' It's great to make crazy high end objects but it's good to make stuff that affects the life of many. Things that reach the heart of people, not just the homes.'
And here's a better photo of Wanders, who describes his laid-back, suit-and-trainers style as 'fashionably sophisticated.' I'm liking that concept.
You may recognise his knotted chair, designed for Droog in 1996. When I asked the internationally-acclaimed designer if he could make a cheaper version for Marks & Spencer, he admitted, 'It was a limited edition - and not that good for the environment.' Fair enough.
Wanders likes to connect the past and the future, hence the Henry VIII cufflink set, 'Choose a different wife every day and a favourite on Sundays!'
The multi-talented Marcel Wanders can turn his hand to anything. From tartan scarves and heavy glass urns, to printed umbrellas and expensive chocolate cakes - there are over 150 gifts in the collection. Here are some of my favourite bits and pieces:
That's Not My Age's verdict: This is the first time M&S has worked with one designer over a range of product areas and it's a brave move. Unlike the Terence Conran collaboration, which sits perfectly with the brand, some of Wanders more Baroque/masculine designs are very un-M&S. The traditional customer might not get it, but you can't keep churning out ditzy floral print mugs and Wallace & Gromit biscuit tins. And according to my sources, the store has a wider customer base and more younger shoppers at Christmas- and they will probably love some of the more kitsch-y stuff.
Wanders has been signed-up for five years. What do you think?
Marcel Wanders for Marks & Spencer is available (online and in 60 stores nationwide) from 12 October 2012.