by Pooja Suresh HollannavarJul 18, 2023
For French designer Philippe Starck , working on a project is like preparing a gift for a loved one. Designing, he believes, comes from a place of generosity and an earnest responsibility toward making something that can make the world a better place to live in.
The legendary creator, who is known to have conceived more than 10,000 projects limited to no particular genre, continues to push boundaries and challenge norms even as he turns 71 today. An adherent of the idea that designing is about making something that deserves to exist, Starck leads the way by bringing spaces and products that are affordable and democratic.
His portfolio is studded with projects that range across a spectrum of scales: from everyday products such as lemon squeezers and furniture to revolutionary hotels, planes, rockets, mega yachts, motor bikes, wind turbines and electric cars. In 2000, he received the National Order of the Legion of Honour, one of the numerous coveted distinctions which he has been awarded over the course of his career that spans more than 30 years.
I have this mental sickness called creativity. – Philippe Starck
Born on January 18,1949 to a French aeronautical engineer and inventor father in Paris, he found his purpose in creativity and rigour, very early on in life. In his early years of practice, while studying at the interior architecture and design from the Ecole Nissim de Camondo, Paris, Starck was offered work with fashion designer Pierre Cardin. He was 17 then, and very keen to create furniture. Always a rebel at heart who never belittled his voice and beliefs, he worked for three months with Cardin and left to pursue his own vision.
The future is dematerialisation. It is inevitable that architecture will become more and more dedicated to creating experiences and providing a real service to people. – Philippe Starck
In 1979, he founded ‘Stark Product’ that provided services in interiors , product , industrial and architectural design. It was with the refurbishing project of the private rooms of French president François Mitterrand in 1983 that he rose to fame.
His journey in architecture began with designing many buildings in Japan. Nani Nani in Tokyo was the first project that he completed in 1989 as an impressive anthropometric structure. The building reflected Starck’s idea of seeking honesty and elegance through living materials. Later, projects such as the avant-garde architecture of Asahi Beer Hall in Tokyo and Baron Vert office complex in Osaka followed.
Over the years, Starck has established a vast oeuvre of architectural projects that include hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, culture and life centers, museums, stores and homes. Some of his recent projects include a haven of peace at the Lily of the Valley hotel in France, a delicate restoration of 18-Century grancaffè at Quadri restaurant in Italy, and a steel cellar for a Bordeaux wine estate designed in collaboration with Bruges-based architect Luc Arsène-Henry.
Moving on to products, be it lighting, furniture, bathroom fixtures or kitchen accessories, Starck's works are equally fascinating. These include outdoor lamps for Italian lighting brand Flos, sleek chairs for plastic company Kartell, and minimalist bathroom mixers and showers for AXOR.
Design is first and foremost a tool that, at best, tries to help people improve their lives. – Philippe Starck
Starck was recently in news for his design of the next international space station with Axiom and the design of a chair created using artificial intelligence in cooperation with Autodesk.
He calls himself a modern monk who never retires and likes to continue creating in isolation, one project at a time. Asked how he has managed to build a great career, the designer has often remarked that he has signed a contract with the devil to sell his life for creativity.
With an extraordinary contribution to design to look back on, Starck is in no mood to hang up his boots. As he turns 71, STIR wishes him health and happiness, and looks forward to seeing many more inspiring works by him.
To watch our conversation with Philippe Starck that explores his undiscovered life, click here.