Australia-born and London-based product designer Marcel Sigel is making a name for himself with his unique take on everyday objects. From candle stands that care about the dangers of a flame, to fruit bowls that look like they are made out of opulent cloth, Sigel’s ideas are innovative, fresh and always thoughtful.
In the scheme of things, Marcel Sigel is a relative newcomer to the design industry. Yet for someone who has only been around in the field since 2004, Sigel has rapidly made a name for himself as a product designer to reckon with.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Sigel grew up in Perth where he studied industrial design. He returned to Melbourne in 2004 to set up his design studio ‘Zuii’ (with graphic designer Alana Di Giacomo) which quickly became popular. The duo was named Wallpaper* magazine’s ‘Best Young Designers’ for 2004.
Zuii had several interesting pieces right away. The ‘Swoon’ Candleholder (2004) is a white ‘porcelaineous’ stoneware candleholder which has a reflector at the back to ‘strengthen and direct the light’ and which also keeps the flame away from curtains and other potential flammable objects. Then came the ‘Trace’ table light (2004) which was designed to look as if the blown glass moulds were melting over its own shape. The ‘Woodland’ light (2004) was an unusual table lamp, with three lamps reminiscent of a cluster of trees in the woods, which come together as a single unit.
In 2005, Sigel conjured up the Mummy Vessel; a vase made up of 100% recycled plastic shopping bags. Made of spirally wound plastic, this vase creates an impact when backlit or lit from within with LEDs. The plastic vase, though light, can be weighed down with water or sand as well.
Sigel’s unusual take on everyday objects continued with ‘Henry’s collar’, a funky take on a fruit bowl. Made out of moulded polyester fibre or stainless steel, the bowl was inspired by the collars worn in the late 16th century by monarchs such as King Henry. A variety of fruit can sit comfortably in the ruffles, making this utilitarian item a conversation piece in the home.
In 2006/07, a collaboration with Royal Selangor, a premium Malaysian pewter brand, saw the launch of a range of home accessories including candle stands, vases, bowls and trays. The designs were praised for their use of multiple finishes including frosted glass and even a chocolate-covered look.
Sigel soon moved to Milan to work with international design houses. In 2007, he moved to London where he worked with Artek design studio and also Tom Dixon, where he was the Senior Designer until 2010.
The innovative designs from the Sigel stable continued to impress. In 2010, Sigel was asked to design a trophy for the Peace and Sport organisation. His design took inspiration from the medals and ribbons given to sport winners. Two upward moving columns in cast polyurethane and brass rise up, fall away and then unite as one – one column represents peace, the other sport. The elegant design is in harmony with the philosophy of the organisation which works to promote peace through sport.
In 2011, Sigel established his own studio ‘Marcel Sigel Studio’, which is based out of London. Recent work from the studio includes the beautiful ‘Imperial’ (Blok) stool, a simple design in solid oak and steel which is inspired by sturdy children’s wooden toys. The stool (available in a gorgeous red or an elegant natural shade) has a large square seating block with a concave seating area. The legs of the stool are powder coated or nickel plated tubular steel.
A new version of the Swoon candle stands (‘Swoon mkII’) hit the market in 2011. A cylindrical base with a reflector at the back elevates this industrial design into a work of art. The reflector directs and reflects the light and also, like the original Swoon design, keeps the flame away from surrounding objects.
The Helix light is the designer’s latest offering, in addtion to the Woven chair. The chair reminds one of vintage chairs in our grandparent’s homes where the seat and back have interwoven plastic strips. The Woven chair has strips made from the frame itself, resulting in a strong but lightweight chair designed for both indoor and outdoor use.
Sigel’s studio works on a diverse range of assignments including furniture, lighting and fashion. One can only wait and see what this talented young designer will come up with next. And if his nascent career is any indication, Marcel Sigel is most definitely a name to keep an eye out for.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer