Interview with Marco Manders

Winner of Street Furniture Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Marco Manders shares insights


Interview with Marco Manders at Monday 24th of October 2016:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
MM : Education 1993 HKU University of the Arts, Utrecht, The Netherlands, Post Academic Study Art Direction Work experience: 2007 - Current Industrial Designer / Owner and Founder of Tulpi BV in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands 1993 - 2007 Graphic Designer / Art Director / Owner and Founder of OPUS II and Omnus 1990 - 1993 Desktop Publisher / Graphic Designer at Studio Grafitech (Apple - Adobe Europe) 1985 - 1990 Decorator / Graphic Designer at Parel Promotion I am an all-round designer with a strong timeless vision and devise concepts. After high school, in 1985, I started as a decorator for a graphic design company. In addition to staging and decoration I have learned many graphical facets in practice: screen and offset printing, pre-press and the traditional graphic drawing. Early 1986 I was one of the first and few in The Netherlands who started working with Desktop Publishing on the very first Apple Macintosh computers. Because of my expertise and skills in Desktop Publishing and Graphic Design I was asked in 1990 to work for Studio Grafitech (Adobe - Apple Europe division) In 1993, I got the opportunity to start my own Advertising/Graphic Design companies, first OPUS II.and not much later Omnus. Both companies became a success. Besides running OPUS II and Omnus, me being both designer and Art Director never stopped me from continuously improve my skills and over the years follow several training and courses During my career in graphic design I gradually gained interest in product design. I entered my idea for the Tulpi-seat during a Dutch government pitch, an event where professionals were invited to enter their new design ideas for public space design. My entry was well received, but not the winner. By that time I had fallen in love with design for public spaces after which I decided to further develop my first design the Tulpi-seat. The design proved to be an award winning design, awarded with the special GIO Award for most Original Design and Good Industrial Design (GIO) 2011, the Golden A’ Design Award Winner for Street Furniture Design Category 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 and the IDA Golden Design Award. My designs are typical Dutch Design, which can be characterized as: minimalistic, experimental, innovative, quirky and humorous.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
MM : I love it to be this creative, there are so many ideas to devise, products to shape and restyle. it relaxes me to put my ideas, the visions in my head on paper (in computer) and see if I can make my designs come to life.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
MM : I chose to be a designer.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
MM : I design (Street) Furniture for public places; eye-catching-landmarks. I like to design all products needed for spaces where people come together like parks, (sport)stadiums, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, airports. For example; chairs, benches, waste-bins, lanterns, fountains, tables, fences. Everything adapted to one style.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
MM : Look carefully around you, observe, watch closely. Respect other designers and learn from them. Try not to be better but rather be different.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
MM : A great designer has multiple successful, diverse and different designs wich will leave a piece of history to humanity.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
MM : A good design is each a pleasure for the eye (mind) and comfort for the body (functionality).

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
MM : Good design speaks. Good design tells your visitors you care about your product. Good design at the front-end suggests that everything is in order at the back-end. Good design is what separates the best from the “good-enough”. Unless you can really compete on price you better find another way to differentiate yourself. That other way is design.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
MM : Furniture for Vitra.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
MM : Amusement park/Entertainment park like Disney World / Euro Disney.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
MM : A good mix of minimalistic, experimental, innovative, quirky and humorous.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
MM : Charles en Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Marcel Wanders, Philippe Starck, Frank Lloyd Wright.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
MM : Coca Cola bottle by Alexander Samuelson, Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck, EA 117 Charles en Ray Eames, Gullwing 300SL Coupe by Mercedes- Benz. Timeless beautiful designs.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
MM : Tulpi-seat. It is a perfect combination of design, ergonomics and sustainability with a huge fun factor! The Tulpi-seat automatically folds when its occupant gets up, guaranteeing a clean and dry seat for the next user! With full 360 degree rotation, the Tulpi-seat lets you pick your own view!

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
MM : To look more and better at the work of other artists and designers. Ask yourself if you could make/made it better/different. Use criticism as a supplement!

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
MM : Be a dance club owner.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
MM : Design is that unique part of an object that makes it eye-candy.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
MM : My teachers, bosses and colleagues. My family is my biggest supporter.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
MM : To be open minded, young at heart, positive, eager to learn and not afraid to fail.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
MM : Accept that I am that good (too modest).

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
MM : With great passion and full surrender. Clarity over the course of the design process.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
MM : My next design projects are Tulpi-Grace (indoor version of the Tulpi-seat) and Tulpi-benche. More eye-catching landmarks.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
MM : To create/design products that people love, embrace, give them a smile and remember (even after my death).

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
MM : To have ideas, visions they do not have and to translate them in design.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
MM : When people love/like their environment/public space they are more willing to open up to others. When you are happy you want to share it, people behave better in a clean environment / beautiful surroundings.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
MM : Soccerstadium.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
MM : Tulpi-seat. It is a perfect combination of design, ergonomics and sustainability with a huge fun factor! It is now ‘planted’ in more then 34 countries! Even the Dutch Royals presented Tulpi-seats as a gift to other officials.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
MM : Less copies of original designs.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
MM : More custom made design through technology like 3D printing.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
MM : That highly depends on the project. A new product to design, prototyping, testing, developing and producing could take about 2 years or more.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
MM : It starts with an idea on how a certain “problem” could be solved. Then in an inspiring surrounding my own process of designing starts. To be followed with brainstorm sessions alone or with others who could be an asset to the designing process. Research, looking for solutions. And then the first sketches on paper appear, and work them out on computer. Presentation and prototyping. Followed by adjustments. Finally evaluation and producing the final mode.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
MM : Design according your own vision!

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
MM : I think it starts at: design sets the trends and after setting this trend, many designs follow.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
MM : It helps me to realize ideas. It makes it tangible or visible for me and my customer. (Example: hard- and software, 3D printer).

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
MM : Appel Macintosh MacBook Pro (Retina). Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
MM : To create joy and fun in my designs; open the colorful world of Tulpi-design.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
MM : How I got the idea.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
MM : Wow, thats looks great, who is the designer?

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
MM : Marcel Wanders. I believe in co-design, not always but in specific situations it is better to work together.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
MM : Leon van der Maarel, Fred Willems and Luc Reefman.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
MM : Supermarionation (world of Gerry Anderson), Jugendstile (Könemann), Honderd jaar Nederlandse architectuur (Sun), Kunst van de twintigste eeuw (Taschen).

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
MM : Mostly by teaching myself. To watch other designers and their work. Eagerness to learn. Taking lessons and following courses.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
MM : Leonardo da Vinci.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
MM : It is hard to act in the right way when being famous. To radiate success without being arrogrant.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
MM : 1. Color: Fresh green. 2. Place: After Home, Vienna. 3. Food: Steak 4. Season: Spring 5. Thing: Mascot 6. Brand: Apple

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
MM : After sketching the first Tulpi-seat on paper I decided to let it be worked out in a 3D -drawing - program. When finishing his work, the engineer called me and asked me whether I had invented a new baby rattle or lollipop..... I had to sketch again :)

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
MM : To be proud of my own designs. To look at the bright side of life, listen to music which fits to the designing process.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
MM : I always drew and built something new.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
MM : Technology (computers/robots) will be taking over mankind. Living in a computer-game like world, hard to recognize what is real and what is fiction. But we designers, artists will always be needed to feed these machines with originals.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
MM : Tulpi-design is a Dutch product design company with a flair for innovative and playful design for indoor and outdoor environments. Tulpi-design embraces modernity and the cohesion of environment and people. Playfully contributing to, and thus enhancing, the value, appearance and importance of our surroundings. Tulpi® products are designed to inject fun and color into our indoor and outdoor environments. The designs confirm Holland’s reputation for producing high quality products and can be characterized as: minimalistic, experimental, innovative, quirky and humorous. Not only was the shape a major focus point during the product development process, but a lot of thought and research went into its ergonomic features and user comfort.