Dutch Drama: The Wanders Years

The designer’s first monograph is part showy image-fest, part haughty design manifesto.

This month, Dutch design king Marcel Wanders invites you down the rabbit hole into his first monograph, Marcel Wanders: Behind the Ceiling (Gestalten). Part showy image-fest, part haughty design manifesto, the hardback might instead have been subtitled: Behind my gazing blue eyes, my gold-plated clown nose, and my perfectly pink lips: not just a pretty face (but I’ve got one right?)

OK, so modest he is not. But Wanders’s unabashedness is the perfect complement to his psychedelic, in-your-face aesthetic, whether you’re into it or not. And, for the most part, I’m into it. The book showcases some of my favorite Wanders wonders, from the Skygarden lamp and the Lute Suites to the tessellating patterned wallpapers that perpetuated the whole resurgent hexagon phenomenon, to name just a few.

A spread from Behind the Ceiling, with photos of Lute Suites

With page after page of provocative imagery, the book’s gloss factor is high, like a sequin overload on your first BeDazzler attempt. You may be less enthralled, however, by Wanders’s ideological quotations sprinkled throughout the glittery pages. He optimistically seeks to connect to a “global audience” with his design—although everything here from project locales and material palettes to clientele (and on and on) screams luxury and exclusivity. Does the global community really give a damn about Swarovski-encrusted Bisazza mosaic masterpieces? Probably not. But if you don’t mind looking past the occasional overstatement, Behind the Ceiling provides a beautifully manicured insight into the collection of curious Wanders.

A Wanders still life for Moooi

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