In person, Philippe Starck is an absolute reflection of the furniture he designs: simple in appearance, well intentioned and with a touch of cheerful flamboyance.
His name carries a thousand connotations on its own: innovator; Louis Ghost chair; design-extraordinaire; plastic.
He has designed everything from hotels interiors to toothbrushes and windmills — for homeowners who want to harness and produce their own energy. Always green conscious and aware of the necessity for quality and sustainability, Starck’s designs always borrow from pragmatism.
The Louis Ghost chair (made for Italian brand Kartell) is made from polycarbonate plastic, and now is a cult item along with his juicer Juicy Salif created for Italian brand Alessi in 1990. He has, to borrow from his own words, “democratized” modern design by creating interesting furniture pieces for the masses, of good durable quality at affordable prices.
“I have created a democratic tool called quality of design. High quality, very timeless in style, material longevity means that it’s my way of thinking to have the highest and furthest vision.”
Speaking to the Daily News Egypt at the xO furniture stand during the Milan furniture fair, he explains that his designs are neither inspired by nor tailored to one cultural identity.
“There is no more territory; the world is deeply changed.” He says countries are merely extensions of cultural tribes. Starck is of the belief that culture and folklore are no more unique to individual countries; what one seeks in design in Egypt is not that different from Japan.
Starck’s work and collaboration for the brand that began in 1984 continues that drive to design what is useful. This year, he has updated earlier designs with new colors, and designed a range of mirrors entitled “L’Oreille Qui Voit” — xO’s first collection of mirrors designed by Starck.
The name translates to “The Ear That Sees,” and Starck’s surrealistic interpretation pays tribute to Salvador Dali’s melted clocks. The mirrors are almost globular in form but the hardness and softness of the polished mirror and the frame offer a visually delicate contrast of materials. Available in five different sizes starting from a height of 50cm to 190 cm, and with the ability to be singularly hung or in an arrangement allows one to play in Starck’s world.
His MI MING chair has been updated this year with a black or silver armrest, achieving a regal appearance in plastic. The chair’s edge is in its minimal black band, so coolly understated. The MI MING chair holds its own with its soft curves whereas the Louis Ghost chair has become so coveted, it is almost contrived to own one in comparison.
To say that his SLICK SLICK chairs are feminine would be to overlook Starck’s ability to simplify a design to its most refined forms. But it is in pastel colors, far less flamboyant than his DADADA piece in purple or orange.
His new colors pop intensely, and the usage of transparent materials with color makes it easy to integrate into almost any room in one’s home. And, a touch of gold or silver with his new range BUBU II states he’s also all about playing with classical forms and colors and reinterpreting them for our modern day.
“I’m not especially interested in design, it’s just a vehicle of communication, about poetry, politics, sex. My only way to survive was to create, for me creativity was in the family DNA. I design to survive.”
When asked whether he consciously designs pieces so they can attain cult status, he replies: “It’s not ambition. I have vision; people love me and I always have a vision to be timeless, with the same human vision and stubbornness. It’s good to be autistic and stubborn because I’m completely out of trend.”
Being frank about his rarely discussed low-level degree of autism, Starck also credits his living choices as being a source of constant inspiration. Choosing to live in a remote village outside of the city suburbs, it is perhaps reasonable to assume that due to his lifestyle choice of living simply, he understands what one needs in the house on a most basic, beautiful and simplistic level.
Philippe Starck for x0 is carried exclusively in Egypt by Art of Form.
The SLICK SLICK chairs stacked.
The Mi MING chair with black armrest.