When you hear the name Marcel Wanders, many things come to mind: Maverick. Visionary. Bold. Experimental…and those only scratch the surface of the aesthetic that Wanders, the famed Dutch designer and co-founder of Moooi, brings to the design world. His style lives somewhere between nostalgic and fantastical, where everything in between is a magical feast for the eyes.
Wanders has imparted his signature look on objects big and small: hotel interiors, furniture collections, down to flatware and wristwatches. Let’s take a look at one of Wanders’ “macro” designs: the Andaz Amsterdam Hotel (2012) and a few “micro” ways to get that same style (no passport required).
An experimental style
Wanders’ ability to see the big picture is what gives him an edge as a designer. He is a master of minute details when it comes to small consumer products for brands like Alessi and Kartell, and when directing large-scale interior projects, his experimental style really shines. His quest to discover, create and design new products and spaces seems to be insatiable, and we can’t get enough of his work, big and small.
With the Andaz Hotel, Wanders has created his own cosmos that is symbolic of the identity and rhythm of Amsterdam. His sensational aesthetic is omnipresent throughout the entire hotel, engaging visitors with the spirit of the city at every turn.
Before the project began, the building was home to the Amsterdam public library, and Wanders pays homage to the literary history with the wallpaper and graphic motifs throughout the corridors. As you walk through the lobbies and rooms, the imagery is so vivid that you can imagine thumbing through archival prints and books from an age long ago.
The lobby is intentionally left open to draw attention to the vertical movement of the elevators and the video screens that line the walls. As the elevators take you up to your room, you are lifted through the celestial heavens composed of larger-than life lighting fixtures designed by Wanders.
The details are what take us to the center of his universe. Blues, golds and dark chocolate leathers drench the walls and rooms of the hotel, directly referencing historical Delft Blue ceramics (originating in the Netherlands in the 16th century) and the Golden Age of Dutch trade, science and art in the 17th century.
It’s obvious that Wanders has a love affair with the ornate blue patterns of Dutch Delft blue. Fittingly named Delft Blue No. 9, this piece (created for Moooi) would fit perfectly in the ceramic display of this dining room in Andaz.
If we zoom in even further, Wanders is also known for designing functional objects that are as inherently decorative as the sculpture pictured above. For instance, the swirling motif of this Dressed Cutlery Set for Alessi possesses a similar quality to Delft Blue in stainless steel.
As we move through the hotel, dark leather accents permeate your view, adding a masculine quality to the spaces intended for relaxation and conversation.
A similar effect is achieved with the Dressed Black Watch designed for Alessi. The lacy pattern of the hour hand is telling of Wanders’ taste for whimsy, which contrasts with the timeless look of solid black.
It might take a lifetime to unearth all the hidden references and symbolism of the Andaz Amsterdam Hotel. What we have gleaned is that Wanders is profoundly infatuated with the history of Amsterdam—but more importantly, his native country—as seen by the rich interiors of the Andaz and individual products he designs for day-to-day life.
Andaz Hotel images via Marcel Wanders