‘We must elevate design to the status of art, music and media. The world is slowly understanding that good design can shift and change human behavior and create new social conditions. Design has the power to shape a better, smarter world, to simplify yet inspire every individual, to make well-made and beautiful products accessible to all’.
– Karim Rashid
Karim Rashid is one of the design world’s brightest, technicolour-popping wizards, with over 3000 designs in production and 300-plus awards to date. Karim will shortly be bringing his inimitable brand of design evangelism to Australia, delivering a keynote presentation on ‘The Future of Design’ at the Decor + Design show in Melbourne on Friday 22 July.
We sat down with Karim in the lead up to talk about design and colour, letting go of the past and why he digs Instagram.
Karim, your design ethos could be said to be the penultimate outworking of ‘form follows function’ – one of your key edicts is that items must fit our daily lives – and that we also need to embrace the future. Do you think there’s any place for nostalgia in styling design?
For me the biggest challenge is getting the world (consumers, clients, manufacturers, retailers) to accept the time in which we live! Human nature tends to look to the past and feels more comfortable with what is familiar. My real desire is to see people live in the modus of our time; to participate in the contemporary world. By doing so, they release themselves from nostalgia, antiquated traditions, old rituals and kitsch, meaningless paradigms.
New culture demands new forms, concepts, materials, and styles. As we shift into the post-industrial age, products are becoming more personalised as varied expressions of specific cultures, corporate identities, and tribes. Currently, industrial design has a responsibility to redefine these objects in society as a celebration of value and meaning, not as a celebration of surface or fawning over the past.
You are prolific in the design world, with projects ranging from waste cans to chairs to restaurants. Is there a particular genre you really enjoy working in?
I get really passionate about designing a pen, jewellery, perfume bottle, liquor bottle, coffee cup, as much as I do designing a brand identity, a carpet, a flooring, furniture, interior design, or a building. My clients are manufacturers, innovators, developers and big or small brands around the globe. And that also means my designs sell for $5-$15,000. But I’m designing for myself, not for any particularly consumer in mind. I can shape an entire human holistic experience from the micro to the macro.
Colour obviously plays a huge part in your work. I read that you excised black from your wardrobe in 1999. The fashion and art world still gravitate towards black, perhaps because of its gravitas. Why do you prefer a more vibrant palette?
I love pink and techno colours – colours that have the vibrancy and energy of our digital world. Colour is life for me. It is one of the most beautiful phenomena of our existence. It is a way of dealing with and touching our emotions, our psyche, and our spiritual being. Color is not intangible- it is very real, very strong, and has a true physical presence.
You’re active on Instagram @kariminc. The platform has become such an integral part of disseminating design ideas and creating a persona within the industry. What do you enjoy about IG? Anyone in particular that you love to follow?
I get a huge joy from interacting with my fans on social media in a very real way. I am really engaged on twitter and Instagram as well. There are over 670,000 fans on the Facebook page and another 65,000 on Instagram and Twitter. It is a great opportunity to get feedback for my work. Together we’ve built a great community full of talent and design-minded people. I love following @beau_jo_yana and @Kickie13
I saw you speak at Maison & Objet in Paris last year on Analog vs. Digital design. I particularly remember your point that the whole way we base our sitting rooms around a television is outdated. I’d never really thought about that before. Are you beginning to see this model change in interior design?
Yes, many models of social and domestic behaviours are changing. We cook less, hence kitchens should be smaller. We spend most downtime on laptops and iPads, hence our furniture needs to change to accommodate new sitting postures, and on and on.
You will be speaking on the ‘future of design’ at Decor + Design in Melbourne. What can we expect?
I will be speaking about the world at large and how we approach interactivity with the spaces and objects around us. I preach about how design shapes the future and culture. The world is becoming very savvy – both visually and about information. The energy and times are hypertrophic and consumers are perpetually interested in being stimulated, in being excited about their physical environment.
We must elevate design to the status of art, music and media. The world is slowly understanding that good design can shift and change human behavior and create new social conditions. Design has the power to shape a better, smarter world, to simplify yet inspire every individual, to make well-made and beautiful products accessible to all.
Finally, what are your thoughts on Australia and Australian design style?
I don’t know much about Australia from a design perspective but I’m looking forward to exploring since I haven’t been since 2002. I frequently get asked this question about many of the countries I visit. I do know from press, PR and my last visit that design is thriving in Australia, especially in Melbourne. I feel the design language seems to be similar to the British where graphic design tends to dominate. There also seems to be a large mid-century revival there.
Karim Rashid will be delivering a keynote presentation on ‘The Future of Design’ at Decor + Design 2016 on Friday 22 July at 1.30pm. Register now to see one of the world’s biggest design superstars in action, as well as 250+ exhibitors at Australia’s No.1 Interiors Event.