Philippe Starck is one of the most famous designers alive, justly famed for his extraordinary, forward-thinking industrial design and product development as well as his interiors all over the world.
The renowned ideator and creator is on a mission to make life better for the largest number of people possible.
“Subversive, ethical, ecological, political, fun: this is how I see my duty as a creator,” says Starck.
Starck was well ahead of the curve in anticipating the environmental implications of design, and has a deep comprehension of contemporary needs and lifestyles, as well as future directions. Starck is a true example of a designer who has changed the shape of the world.
A Far-Reaching Aesthetic
Born in 1949 to an aircraft engineer father, Starck studied at the École Nissim de Camondo in Paris, a school for product design and interior architecture. His first company designed inflatables before he diversified his design practice into industrial products and interiors.
International attention started to flow in the 1980s, when he refurbished Francois Mitterand’s private apartments in Élysée Palace, designed the interiors for the famous Café Costes in Paris and the Teatriz in Madrid. He also designed the interiors for the Royalton and Paramount hotels in NYC in the 80s, which launched him as a highly sought-after hotel designer around the world.
Starck’s aesthetic has always been varied. He is famous for addressing each project on a case-by-case basis and responding to the needs of the individual client. However, his work has always reflected a preference for fluidity and organic shapes, as well as nodded to his innately playful nature.
High-End Industrial Design Meets Mass-Market Products
While Starck was wowing with his interiors, he was also forging a career as a product designer. He designed boats, mineral-water bottles, toothbrushes and luggage, many of which have become iconic. His famous yachts are still startlingly futuristic in design compared to the rest of the super-yachts docked in the world’s elite harbours.
While there’s no doubt some of his projects are at the top of the high-end design ladder, Starck’s populist ethos is also reflected by the fact that many of his products are sold at affordable price points through mass-market retailers. They have been designed to add beauty to people’s lives through everyday acts like washing or cooking. His Juicy Salif juicer for Alessi is notable example.
Shaping the Future of Design
Starck’s life of design has fundamentally been guided by improving people’s lives and “getting the most out of less” while embracing nature. In an interview with UN Environment, he commented that
“recycling by itself is not a solution. For products to be called sustainable, they must use as little raw materials and energy as possible and be recyclable. They must be “politically just” and respect gender equality. “Today 80 per cent of products are macho,” says Starck, adding: “If it’s not macho, it won’t sell.”
His whole ethos is underpinned by making products that consumers do not want to throw away.
“Recycling was only invented so that we could continue to consume while keeping our conscience at rest. The reality is that less than 20 percent of the materials used in consumer goods can be recycled, as it requires special conditions.”
Starck believes that it is up to us to come up with new alternatives that align with human nature and our impulse to create and design. That the solution is “a sort of positive de-growth, where we decrease production but increase creativity.”
There’s no doubt that the Australian design industry has creativity in spades. For the first time at Decor + Design 2020, we’ll be hosting a ‘Sustainability Hub’, which will be an interactive, design-led installation that explores the latest in conscious design. Discover new materials for interiors that eliminate waste, look stylish and make clever use of the unexpected.
Decor + Design will take place from 16th – 19th July in Melbourne, co-located with the Australian International Furniture Fair. Start planning your trip! Free trade registration is now open.