Monday April 30, 2012
The designocracy of Karim Rashid
DESIGN maverick Karim Rashid lets us in on his design philosophy, dream projects, and what makes him happy in this e-mail interview.
What are examples of your works that best illustrate “sensual minimalism”?
Certainly the Ottawa collection for BoConcept falls into that style. I consider most of my work sensual minimalism but particularly the Tonelli Splash, Veuve Clicquot Globalight and Loveseat, Vondom Surf, Della Rovere Uno desk, Nienkamper Wavelength, Method Handsoap, 3M Pebble, Kenzo Amour, Umbra Garbo, and all of my Nambe designs, just to name a few.
I conceive more ideas than my clients can produce or want to produce....
What gets your creative juices flowing?
I think that everything in life is accumulatively inspiring – my upbringing, education, mentors, experiences, and all the history of design, art, and culture. Factories, technologies, machinery, people, behaviour, movements, artistic endeavours and all the creative disciplines inspire me.
I am also very inspired from my travels. The best way to see any place is to work there. I am like a cultural editor in design. I absorb information like a sponge and have a great memory to retain and dissect that information.
Is there anything that you have not designed but would love to work on?
There is still so much I want to design. I look forward to what the next 10 years will bring because I will retire at 60 and become a philosopher or a musician. And hopefully by then I will have designed an electric car, a robot, a clothing line, a private house, a museum, a building, a city, and a new pasta noodle, and maybe my dream vacation spa.
In your 30 years in design, any project that you are immensely proud of?
I can still remember the satisfaction I felt from designing the Garbo and Oh Chair for Umbra (1995). I love when my ideas are materialised in the form of products that are accessible, high design, and usable on a day-to-day basis.
Completing the Morimoto restaurant project inPhiladelphiain 2001 was a turning point for me because it was so successful that it gave me the opportunity to design about 100 interiors since then.
Lastly, I am very proud of the book Design Your Self (Harper Design, 2006). It has now been published in six languages. It is not a design book per se but a book about my philosophy to live a fulfilled life and how everyone can take control and shape their lives and their future.
You once said, “I don’t follow trends; I design using contemporary criteria and, in turn, shape the future.” Please elaborate.
I am interested in creating new languages, in speaking about our technological world. My real desire is to see people live in the modus of our time, to participate in a contemporary world (the digital age). We should be conscious and attuned to this sensorial world, in the moment we live in.
I believe in creating beautiful decoration that speaks to the time in which we live. I think theLimited Edition Skateboard deck for Blank Plank, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc phone, Artemide Halo lamp all fall heavily into the category of contemporary, criteria-shaping design.
Your sustainable design projects, like the “bobble” self-filtering water bottle and Smart-ologic residence (Corian Eco House), have garnered rave reviews. But environmentalists advocate less consumption. How do designers reconcile the two?
Designers must replace the clutter of poorly designed and poorly made objects, with beautiful, high-performing objects, hopefully sustainable, ergonomic, well-made, sensible yet seductive objects. In doing so, we can reduce the stress in our environments and in everyday life.
Every good design, should replace three lesser designs, to cut down on waste, and to build long-lasting relationships with consumers and reinforce a brand’s core value. Designers have the power to shape a better, smarter world, to simplify yet inspire every individual, to make well-made and beautiful products accessible to all. I try to imbue this philosophy of “designocracy” in everything I create.
Which designers and architects inspire you?
Here is an edited list: Luigi Colani, Ettore Sottsass, Joe Columbo, Philippe Starck, George Nelson, Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Ross Lovegrove, Bruno Munari, Carlo Mollino, Gaetano Pesce, Joe Columbo, Victor Papanek, David Carson, Frederick Keisler, Shiro Kuramata, Buckminster Fuller, Toyo Ito.
You wrote the book, I Want To Change The World (Universe, 2001) – how do you want to change the world?
I wrote that title to inspire the design community and the public to realise that design changes the world. I was criticised heavily for it, but I saw it as a mission to make design a public subject.
What makes you happy?
I am most happy relaxing by the pool with my wife at our new home in Miami Beach (Florida, United States). I sneak in a day or two to relax and work on my physical, mental and spiritual health. I am writing my new book, sketching, painting, listening to music, watching rare films, sun tanning and sleeping. I am happy dreaming and thinking about the world, about love, people, peace, beauty, and about one romantic-engaging-fulgent-energetic-seductive-inspiring place we call earth.
What can Karim Rashid fans look forward to next?
I am currently working on multiple condominiums in Miami, a boutique hotel in Tel Aviv in the Bauhaus white district, a 600-room hotel in Bangkok, a dental office in Calgary, hotels in Hamburg and New York, as well as new designs for Alessi, Artemide, Nambe, Bitossi, B-Line, Vondom, Softline, Tonelli, packaging for Unilever, a line of kitchen accessories for SiliconeZone, a winter coat for Peuterey, Italy, appliances for Gorenje, glasses for Coca-Cola, food packaging in Korea, wedding rings for outer-spacemarriages for a Polish company, several art shows in Ukraine and New York, and many other projects globally. (We were tired out just writing that list down....)
I just designed some skateboard decks, kitchens with Aran,Italy, a new vodka bottle, a media lab at Queens University in Toronto, a new boutique for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada in New York and released the new Bobble water jug for Target and Wal-Mart. They are all my dream projects!
Making the banal better