06/27/12 - 0 Comments
Designer Spotlight: Philippe Starck
Anyone with the most basic knowledge of or interest in interior design is sure to have heard the name Philippe Starck. He is responsible for some of the most chic and luxurious hotels the world over, including the Royalton in New York, the Delano in Miami and the Meurice in Paris. Travelers with a bountiful budget can also stay at Starck-designed hotels in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. It’s no surprise that Starck is a prolific restaurant designer as well, since grand hotels and gourmet restaurants often go hand-in-hand. His restaurant projects include Café Costes in Paris, which closed in 1994, Felix at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong and Katsuya in Los Angeles.
While the illustrious designer is best known for creating hospitable suites in five-star hotels and posh dining rooms in see-and-be-seen (scene?) restaurants, bars and nightclubs, many people may not realize that Starck’s design resume encompasses so much more. He has designed everything from furniture (who hasn’t seen and loved the oft-imitated Kartell “Louis Ghost” chair) to a toothbrush, to mega-yachts, among countless other things. His architectural ventures include the extension of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the rather imposing Nani Nani building in Tokyo. Starck biographer Jonathan Wingfield describes the latter as a structure “born from the powerful conviction that creation must invest in an environment without destabilizing it while maintaining the greatest respect for its context”.
Starck recognized the dangers of global warming and the havoc that the human race is wreaking on the environment long before it was fashionable to do so, and it is perhaps his commitment to creating utilitarian and sustainable objects that makes him such a revolutionary in the industry. Another of his biographers, Jasper Eder, notes the multifarious designer’s focus on creating objects that are “good before being beautiful.” This way of thinking can be attributed to the fact that Starck’s father was an aeronautical engineer whose job it was to create objects that were, above all, functional. This philosophy has seeped into every aspect of Starck’s vast design empire.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, is what Wingfield calls Starck’s “dream of design democratization, in other words an optimal quality for a minimal price and diffusion to the largest audience possible.” So whereas most high-end, in-demand designers want to keep their products in the hands of the elite, Starck thinks everyone, regardless of income, deserves to own things that are both pleasant to look at and practical in their everyday lives. And because Starck does not believe in design simply for design’s sake, everything he creates has a legitimate purpose.
After some three decades in the design business, Starck is showing no signs of slowing down. His latest projects include the SLS Hotel South Beach, encore to the acclaimed SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills and the “Broom” chair, the result of a collaboration with Emeco. This project is over a decade in the making, but well worth the wait for Starck. In keeping with his passion for sustainability, the chair is made from a recycled and recyclable combination of lumber waste, reclaimed polypropylene and glass.
We are convinced there isn’t a thing that Philippe Starck can’t do and we can’t wait to see what comes next.