May 1, 2007
Marcel Wanders Hates Camping Too
The Dutch designer’s accessories for Puma prove that he—like the author—is an urban animal at heart.
First things first, a confession: I hate camping. It would be heresy for me to pull a Woody Allen and express a complete disgust and antipathy toward the Great Outdoors, declaring it an enemy to be vanquished with Chinese takeout and French New Wave directors. No, that’s far too retrograde for me—I actually enjoy the beach. And I like taking long walks in the woods (deer ticks and all). The great rustle of trees, the primal whoosh of the ocean—both fill my heart with the requisite awe. But truth be told, I prefer to experience nature provisionally, in prescribed periods of time (generally, an afternoon will suffice), before returning home to my rent-stabilized apartment and sleeping in a proper bed. I consider myself, in other words, an urban animal.
Mercifully, I may have found a patron saint. Marcel Wanders is a man with a profoundly contemporary relationship to Mother Nature, a designer courageous enough to confess “I hate camping!” and then create a seven-piece line of camping accessories for Puma, released this spring. “I have a love for nature, but it’s not unconditional,” he says (wisely). “I don’t want to survive in nature. I don’t want to cook an egg on a gas stove and be so proud that I can do that. I just want to order pizza and have some guy drop it off.”
When approached by Puma, Wanders and his team compiled a list of activities that supported their idea of the “cultivated animal.” Champagne and caviar were short-listed. The concept of a tent became the centerpiece for the collection, which also includes a beach ball (PVC free), a wheeled cooler case that keeps gourmet food fresh and drinks cold, an inflatable lounger, a towel, a carry bag, and a pair of flip-flops. “We made a long list of products,” Wanders says, “and on top of it was something like a tent. But the first thing we thought was it should never look like a tent. It should look like a villa. If you’re in a beautiful park, this is your garden, your villa. This is not a metaphor.” Given the target market (think Central Park picnics of Zabar’s delicacies), it is fortunate that the tent sets up without tools, in less than five minutes. That’s perfect for the kind of “camper” who calls the super whenever his bathroom light goes out.