Marcel Wanders talks personal taste: Part One

Uber-designer Marcel Wanders has collaborated with Alessi, Baccarat, Christofle, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Marks & Spencer

Marcel Wanders
Marcel Wanders | Image: Maarten Kools

My personal style signifier is my necklace. I collect beads based on their beauty and history and string them together. I have strands made from pieces of lava and others with plastic beads in bright orange – my favourite colour. I love to wear them with my shirt open, when I have a suit on.

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of tickets to an evening of Beethoven at the opera house in Amsterdam. I went with my daughter. I love to spend money on things that are experiential rather than on something you can take back to your house.

Ron Blaauw restaurant, Amsterdam
Ron Blaauw restaurant, Amsterdam | Image: Dorien Grötzinger (

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a piece of video art by Bill Viola, which I’ll have to save for. I’d love to have something of his in my house. The work itself would be almost irrelevant – I just want it to be by him. The connection with the artist is what is important. I have a Picasso, which I more or less bought with my eyes closed.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the one I live in – the Jordaan in Amsterdam. It’s the centre of town and has the best of everything. I love the flower shop Pompon Bloemenwinkel, and the gallery Paul Andriesse, which represents Marlene Dumas. And Winkel, the café, which has the best apple cake ever. Paul Andriesse, Westerstraat 187, 1015 MA Amsterdam (+3120-623 6237; Pompon Bloemenwinkel, Prinsengracht 8-10, 1015 VD Amsterdam (+3120-622 5137; Winkel, Noordermarkt 43, 1015 NA Amsterdam (+3120-623 0223;


The grooming staple I’m never without is a tube of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant – I take it with me everywhere. £25,

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the Dutch painter Femke Hiemstra. Her work takes me into a surreal realm where anything can happen. It makes me understand how peaceful and safe my artificial life is in a world that hides inside a universe of fairy‑violence and toy-terror.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £25
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £25

The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were a pair of authentic, traditional costumes from Georgia. They have such a grand tradition of dress and, while these clothes are historic, they feel so contemporary. They are currently being tailored to fit my frame perfectly, and I am looking forward to wearing them on holiday.

The last music I downloaded was the Philip Glass soundtrack to the film The Illusionist. It’s very beautiful. I love his music in general, but I find his film scores particularly interesting. £11.66,

Cover illustration by Femke Hiemstra for El Gigante
Cover illustration by Femke Hiemstra for El Gigante

The books on my bedside table are about video art, and also the photographer Erwin Olaf, who is a good friend of mine. I have a new book about his work, which is mostly pictorial, and every night I go to bed and look at a new image. What is so beautiful about his art is that the situations he portrays are very dreamlike, but he makes them look so real that you start to believe they are possible.

In my fridge you’ll always find mostly green stuff. If it’s green, I love it. Artichoke, asparagus, spinach, peas, zucchini, kale, broccoli – any and all.

Own – Works by Erwin Olaf, 1984-2012
Own – Works by Erwin Olaf, 1984-2012

The best gift I’ve given recently was to my daughter Joy. She was drawing a vase and showed it to me. I asked her what it was like, what its dimensions were and so forth. I then took the drawing and had a perfect prototype of it made for her birthday. It really connected us.

And the best one I’ve received recently was a bunch of Baccara roses from my girlfriend.


My favourite website is Sylvie Guillem’s. She’s a ballet dancer who is an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells and has a very interesting and personal website about her life and friends, but set up in a really curious way. There is a section on her likes and dislikes. You click on a tab and a grid of words and phrases appears; when you scroll over it, her opinion on each topic is revealed.

See also