He has been kicked out of one the world’s best art schools, designed iconic interiors from the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht to Bonn’s Kameha Grand Hotel and been dubbed the ‘Lady Gaga of the design world’ by the New York Times – now he is in Doha. Meet Marcel Wanders, the man behind the first Mondrian hotel in the Middle East.

Expelled from Design Academy Eindhoven before graduating with the highest honours from ArtEZ University of the Arts in 1988, Marcel Wanders has gone on to become a designer of international repute: establishing his eponymous interior design studio in Amsterdam; co-founding furniture and lighting brand Moooi; and creating products for the likes of Alessi, Swarovski and Puma. His Knotted Chair is in MOMA’s permanent collection, BusinessWeek called him ‘Europe’s hottest designer’, and Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum held a major retrospective of his work.

His latest project is the Mondrian Doha, the first Middle Eastern hotel from American hospitality giant SBE. With 270 rooms and suites, the largest ESPA Spa in the world and seven restaurants – together with a brief that asked for something that was ‘authentically Doha’ and yet international, and part of the Mondrian family and yet reflective of Wanders’ distinctive style, he had his work cut out. ‘That is a lot of things that just don’t fit together,’ he laughs. ‘And that is the quest we had – in the chaos of the final design all those aspects had to find their own place in the guests’ experience.’



Photography by Luke Hayes


Ever wondered why our cities are so grey? Design journalist Katie Treggiden explores the lack of colour in architecture and talks to the chromophiles pioneering brighter buildings.

The architectural ‘whitewash’ that started after World War Two was a response to the dirt and rubble of war as new materials enabled clean, hygienic spaces, but the seed of ‘truth to materials’ was planted by the arts and crafts movement and then embraced as a central tenet of Modernism. However, our suspicion of colour dates back centuries. ‘It goes back a long way, via Adolf Loos in the early 20th century and neo-classicism in the 19th century, and all the way back to Plato and Aristotle,’ says David Batchelor, author of Chromophobia. ‘There’s a long Western tradition that equates colour with falsity, seduction and dishonesty. Modern architects are just its latest incarnation.’ Batchelor’s book references an ‘aggressively white’ interior – in which there is ‘no possibility of lying’. And yet, as Bachelor points out, even white is a lie. ‘Le Corbusier fetishized white,’ he says. ‘And most of his buildings were painted’ So if the pioneer of ‘truth to materials’ was hiding them under white paint, and if even he said: ‘polychromy is as powerful an architectural tool as the plan and section’, perhaps it is time for architects to embrace colour.

Some of them already are. Maggie’s Centres are domestic buildings in the grounds of hospitals offering support to people with cancer. Designed by the UK’s best architects, they are often very colourful. ‘The green we chose for Maggie’s Nottingham was in deliberate contrast to the red brick of the existing hospital buildings, so it would be seen as spiritually separate.’ says Piers Gough of CZWG Architects LLP. Similarly, Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners chose a striking orange for Maggie’s West London. ‘We wanted to create an environment that felt warm, homely and welcoming,’ he says.