Marcel Wanders collaboration with Marks & Spencer came as a bit of a surprise for me. As a former designer for Droog and founder of Moooi I just didn’t associate witty conceptual design with good old M&S. But then that’s the beauty of it. Bring in a big name, mischievously inventive designer to inject a spark of light, sense of fun and surprise into a store associated with supplying quality basics of life. Hands up those who don’t have a pair of Marks and Sparks knickers in their draws!
So within Marcel’s range there are a number of surprises; a Teddy bear who's nose lights up when you touch it. Henry VII Cufflinks where you can change one of the cufflinks to one of his six Queens. And a pair of gloves with one golden pointy finger - just so you can make you point even clearer!
Marcel doesn't do "form follows function"; a mantra that has seen a simplification (or dullification?) of product design. Some of this can be put down to the constraints of the manufactured process and the difficulty of producing anything of complexity in mass. As technology has changed; more complex and radical design can come into the home.
The wonderful digital print cushions (such a Tulipano above) are a case in point; previously impossible images can be printed in volume. Digital printing has been waiting to arrive in the home, its been seen for a number of seasons in fashion but hadn't really made it into homeware till now. And they really draw the customers in! I had to have a look at the range when it hit the store and it was interesting to see people zoom in on the cushions before moving onto the other pieces.
At a Q&A during the London Design Festival I got a chance to ask Marcel about the collaboration and how the range came about. The process is the same as when he develops products for Cappellini; they each present a list of ideas and work through what works best. A this point I said so "you reach a compromise?" Oops never say compromise! I only meant that out of those lists of products there were bound to be ideas that everyone loved but just weren't possible. Sometimes the products you know will be a fantastic best seller never quite make it to the final range for any number of production or cost reasons. Its frustrating but sometimes you have to drop the ones you love.
So for a designer whose products can run into the £1000's; the collaboration with Marks and Spencer has given him the opportunity to reach a huge amount of people but give the same design value as any other Wanders product. I just don’t have the budget to collect Moooi; I wish! But I can with the M&S range, prices start at £7.50 for small bowls and wine glasses; and go up to £175 for a rug.
Here are a few more of my picks from the range.
Etagere is multi-functional and can be used as either a centrepiece or as separate bowls and platters.
The Cake Stand with the beautiful black glass stand is a sophisticated move on from the more traditional stands. I can channel my inner Domestic Goddess with out being too Mumsie!
The long stemmed Wine glasses also have the simple elegant curves.
Not normally a fan of gold I do like these Small Bowls, they also come in black and silver.