The Marcel Wanders compact for Cosme Decorte is another holiday series I've been looking forward to since I discovered it back in 2012. While I enjoyed last year's offering, I couldn't find much about the pattern. This year also proved to be meager in terms of information, but I had enough to pull together a quick blog post. For 2018 Marcel Wanders designed a gorgeous mosaic inlaid compact case with a garden nymph embossed on the powder.
Close-up, there's a slight resemblance to stained glass.
It's not actually mosaic work, but the way it's printed makes it appear quite real. If you run your fingers over the case you can definitely feel a slight tile-like texture.
Entitled "The Enchanted Garden", the story is more or less the same as in recent years: a ethereal muse frolics in a botanical paradise and enjoys all the beauty nature has to offer.
I was able to translate some of the story from the original Japanese. "The sweet smell of the flowers that are lush and blooming in the mysterious paradise where only the chosen goddess (muse) was allowed to exist. The shine of trees that shines in the sun and illuminates the leaves. Gently stroke cheeks like sheep, looking at the breeze ...The mosaic-like face powder born from the 'eternal garden' fits closely with the single goddess of lady, filling with elegance that overflows. It is a face gem powdered with beautiful scenery spreading in the 'eternal garden' where the goddess spends peaceful time, born."
The description on the box makes a little more sense. And I learned that mosaic does indeed come from the Latin for "work of the muses". #factchecking
So let's take a peek at some of Wanders' mosaic work. As we've seen from previous Cosme Decorte collections, Wanders is an extraordinarily multi-talented designer who has created some of the world's most inventive and imaginative interior designs for everything from furniture and rugs to wallpaper and lighting. Most of his mosaic work was created for leading Italian tile company Bisazza starting in 2004. I couldn't find much in-depth information about it, however, so I'm afraid this short blurb from his website will have to suffice. "In a world dominated by minimalism and white walls, Marcel Wanders disrupts the dogma by investigating and disrupting surfaces, including wallpaper, tiles, textiles and mosaiques. Inspired by nature and geometric shapes, an extensive collection of applied mosaiques (2004 -2015) for walls, sculptures and furniture has been applied to restaurants, kitchens, corridors and other spaces. In addition, other iconic designs include brightly coloured coffee tables (2004-2012) that radiate life and joy in any room. Created and shaped to look like stones, these imaginative low tables feature flower patterns and are made with thousands of small hand-cut mosaiques. They seem to be out of a fairytale that guests stumble upon with each having a woman's name." Indeed, the mosaic pieces are representative of his quirky, whimsical style and desire to "create an environment of love, live with passion and make our most exciting dreams come true."
This glass tile pattern is called Daylight Garden, and there's another made of ceramic called Frozen Garden, which is the pattern used on the Cosme Decorte boxes as well as the 2012 "pocket watch" compact. The "Eternal Garden" theme for this year's compact, therefore, is in keeping with Wanders' focus on flowers.
Here's the box from 2016, as I was too lazy to take a picture of this year's box.
The tulip is my personal favorite out of all the patterns Wanders did for Bisazza, as I think it's both visually stunning and a lovely nod to Wanders' Dutch heritage.
And here are the pebble-shaped mosaic ottomans and coffee tables, which The Guardian claims "recall Versace prints at their most gaudy." I don't think they're gaudy per se, but definitely an incredibly unique application for mosaics. This is why Wanders is a world-class designer - I would never think to use mosaics this way.
While these are amazing, I find the mosaic he installed in his former home in Amsterdam to be the most spectacular. It's a custom design by Dutch surrealist artist Femke Hiemstra that also, unsurprisingly, has "garden" in the title. Says the New York Times: "The mosaic is a masterpiece, a huge enchanted-forest swirl of fantastical creatures custom-designed by the Dutch pop-surrealist Femke Hiemstra. Titled 'Secret Garden,' it runs covers most of the back wall. A row of specially cut skylights bathes the artwork in light. 'Femke does amazing work — she’s in galleries all over the States,' Mr. Wanders said. She made a small drawing for me and I had it made into a large mosaic — a magical opportunity. We decided to put hand-cut crystal stones between some of the glass tiles, so it glistens as you walk by. It is something exquisite.'" I wish I had the kind of money where having something like this in my home would be a reality. (We do own a Wanders table and love it to pieces, mind you, but a mosaic wall would be mind-blowing.)
Getting back to Cosme Decorte, I think this floral pattern is the most similar to the one on the compact. This is the Bloem (Bloom) pattern, which Bisazza compares to the textile designs of William Morris. I'm inclined to disagree - I'm actually getting more of a modern '60s Scandinavian vibe...the Clinique Marimekko collection must still be lingering in my brain.
While I think the compact is exquisite, I would have liked to have seen a more "enchanted" garden, i.e. something more magical and colorful like the mosaic furniture. On the other hand, a design like that would have been pure Wanders and may have erased Cosme Decorte's more sophisticated aesthetic from the picture. In this case, playing it a bit safe is a better match for the likes of Cosme Decorte. I also like that they didn't take an existing Wanders mosaic pattern and slap it on there, but honestly I might have been fine with that since I find them all to be so beautiful. I will say that while the garden theme fits with Wanders' botanical inspiration in his mosaics and elsewhere, I'm getting a little fatigued from the usual garden/forest muse narrative. Why not shake it up and tell a story about an underwater sprite, or dare I say, a mermaid? Just some (sea)food for thought.
What do you think? Feel free to check out the previous Cosme Decorte releases and tell me where you think this one ranks. :)