Get acquainted with one room by Marcel Wanders and the rest are instantly recognizable. Beyond the Dutch interior and product designer's unmistakable aesthetic—ornate, over the top, and unafraid of the borderline garish—there's a distinct Alice in Worderland feel to all of his projects, a hall-of-mirrors perspective that leaves everything delightfully warped and emboldened. The always quotable 50-year-old maximalist first gained international recognition in 1996 with the launch of his iconic Knotted Chair, and went on to ink deals with Puma, B&B Italia, and Yoo, the international real estate development firm founded by John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck. In 2008, Wanders worked on his first full U.S. hotel, giving a Sleeping Beauty-inspired sprucing up to Miami's Mondrian South Beach and making an instant star out of one ornate laser-cut black steel staircase. The rest of his hospitality projects, the most recent of which was the new Mira Moon Hotel in Hong Kong, all reflect his most earnest, Disneyish mission statement, to "create an environment of love, live with passion and make our most exciting dreams come true." Let's get to know them, shall we?
Photos via Marcel Wanders
↑ Continuing with the Sleeping Beauty riff, Wanders once described his aim with Mondrian South Beach as capturing "the moment when the story ends, and people wake up after 100 years and see with new eyes." What he's alluding to here is an interest in playing with tradition; the Mondrian's spindle-like columns, bell chandeliers, golden candelabras, delft tiles, and monochrome Louis XVI chairs all give a glossy, exaggerated turn to well-established forms.
↑ Wanders' 2009 Lute Suites series saw him joining up with chef Peter Lute to create seven pop-up hotels near Lute's Amsterdam restaurant. Hilariously named design labels Boffi, Bisazza, and Moooi aided in the execution of the project, which took over a row of 18th-century workers cottages along the Amstel River.
↑ Completed in 2010, the Kameha Grand Bonn in Bonn, Germany, was described by Carsten Rath, CEO of the Luxury Hospitality & Entertainment Group, as a "huge 'playground'" that enabled his company to "reconsider everything commonly perceived as best practice." It includes "Workaholic Suites" equipped with printers and meeting spaces for guests that need to work all night, and indeed, combining a business-hotel ethic with such a glammed-out design scheme is a pretty stark departure from commonly understood best practices. "Not another minimal design hotel" is how Wanders' site introduces the project, as if they ever were with him.
↑ Wanders made a loud entrance on the Lower East Side in 2003 with the Hotel on Rivington's lobby and Thor restaurant. According to Eater NY, when the lounge first opened, it behooved guests to tell the doorman "we're friends of Marcel's in from the Netherlands" if they wanted a good chance of getting in. The years weren't to kind to it, though; a series of few rebranding efforts saw Thor replaced, and with it, the space's original look.
↑Making heavy used of his Tulip Chair, Wanders gave Hong Kong's Mira Moon Hotel a treatment that takes "as its starting point the Moon Festival fairy-tale, a legend in Chinese mythology about the Moon Goddess of Immortality." A collaboration with Yoo, the Mira Moon opened last year with 91 "Half Moon," "New Moon," and "Full Moon" suites, where's Wanders' well-established aesthetic—the digitally composed Bisazza tiles are another standby—combines with antique Chinese fabrics and peony flower wall details. · All Marcel Wanders coverage [Curbed National]
· All Hotels Week 2014 coverage [Curbed National]