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Marcel Wanders and Gabriele Chiave

Interview with Marcel Wanders and Gabriele Chiave

What did you find most appealing in the collaboration with Laufen?

mw Laufen is known the world over for its excellence at generating ideas to create the classic and contemporary bathroom. The company embodies an experimental nature. The designers’ innovative drive manifests itself in the personality of this highly traditional Swiss brand that reflects a symbiosis of design, quality and functionality. The pragmatic approach of Laufen and its perseverance to constantly evolve is something that pulled me in and motivated us to move forward with them along a path of innovation.

gc In addition to their knowledge and creativity, what makes working with Laufen enjoyable for me is that their Swiss design unites two major design trends: emotional Italian design from the south and the northern tradition of design precision and clarity. Their quality has two aspects to it: the manufacturing knowledge that they put into everything they create and the high degree of practical benefit the customer gets out of it.

What technical challenges were you confronted with when designing the new Laufen bathroom collection?

mw The bathroom setting will always be about elegant functionality, and we designed each piece to fit into this seamless collection. This was the first time SaphirKeramik was used in new very classical and iconic forms. So, there was a little bit of a learning curve for us. But what we found with this hygienic, hard -wearing and recyclable material is that it perfectly conforms to the design concept we were striving to achieve. SaphirKeramik gave us a unique opportunity to celebrate the beauty of thin ceramic with our elegant soft shapes.

gc We found SaphirKeramik to be a light and versatile, sturdy and malleable material. It allowed for many variations as we designed each possibility for everyday use. Its slender profile adapts to all classic to contemporary spaces and is environmentally friendly. In fact, SaphirKeramik is a super-strong ceramic material, yet it allowed us to create minimal, architectural lines.

You have developed many interior design concepts for hotels. To what extent does this experience influence the design of the new Laufen bathroom collection?

mw The great thing about our projects is that we learn from everything we do. So, with each project, we discover something we want to try or we learn about the innovation of new material that will let us explore new shapes and new combinations. Along the way, we learned what people find interesting, what moves them and creates meaning. We brought all of that to the new Laufen bathroom collection.

gc Every interior space we’ve worked in has been different and it has forced us to see things in a new way. We have designed for large spaces and small ones. We have worked with so many different materials. In doing this, we have imagined new concepts that take a little from everything we’ve done previously. With the new Laufen bathroom collection, that means we could confidently match woods to ceramics and architectural metals to glass and mirrors.

What is your creative process? How do you approach a new project?

mw Approaching a project for me takes many different paths. I enjoy the process of daydreaming as much as collaborating and bouncing ideas off of others. I take time to sketch, write about and even prototype designs. My process can be described as organised inspiration. Throughout the process, I look for every opportunity to replace the coldness of industry with humanity, while uplifting the human spirit.

gc Much of my approach to a new project is tactile in nature. As I study materials, I get new ideas. I juxtapose objects and textures and experiment to find combinations of colour and shapes to add another layer of concept and thus a deeper layer of connection. Finding balance between form and function, I let my imagination wander and then channel all of the various directions toward a finished design.

In your opinion, what constitutes good bathroom design?

mw The design throughout the set plays a crucial role in making the connection with the human spirit in this intimate space of rejuvenation. I believe good bathroom design, much like this collection, is design that expresses a juxtaposing nature, that mixes and matches elements in such a way that they not only work together, but also work in relation to you.

gc Bathroom design ought not be considered to have a goal that is any different from other design projects. Regardless of location, good design is that which connects and creates meaning for people. Specifically, in the bath-room, our goal is to perfect the design to create the most pampered, private experience.

Your designs are often eye-catching, playful, romantic, sometimes pompous. How is the interior design of your own home?

mw My personal interior style expresses a dynamic sense of eclecticism appointed with modern accents. I have designed each room to be a welcoming environment that surprises and delights guests. I want people who visit to always find something new to discover in a room and within themselves. Versatile ambiences define the overall space. With an ensemble of marble, glass, textiles and stainless steel, I have purpose-fully orchestrated complementary atmospheres. From the appliances to the furniture, art work and lighting, each room is symbiotic to the whole home.

gc My home is intimate. There is a personal vibe to it that is welcoming. While designed with open spaces, it is not without its areas of warmth. I have filled the space with historical souvenirs and memories from my experiences that present a wide array of textures and shapes. I have lived in several different countries and have travelled a great deal. Somewhat like in a museum, there are artifacts that represent eras past and our present times. Across my home these objects intermingle to create a whole ensemble of my life – from a contemporary Moooi led lamp to a 19th-century African mask.

Which design object has been in your possession the longest?

mw What I have had the longest is my Driade silver-plated candlesticks of Borek Sipek. Timeless and elegant, the candleholder features multiple stems that branch off from the base in a meandering contoured fashion. When lit, the candles cast a warm glow and create shadows that dance and charm.