Philippe Starck Eyes
“Subversive, ethical, ecological, political, fun: this is how I see my duty as a creator.”
Despite his thousands of projects—completed or in the making—his global fame and his tireless protean inventiveness, never forget the essential. Philippe Starck has a mission and a vision: creation, whatever shape it takes, must make life better for the largest number of people possible. Starck believes this highly poetic, political, rebellious, benevolent, pragmatic and subversive duty must be borne by all and he resumes it with the humour that has accompanied his approach since the earliest days: “No one is forced to be a genius, but everyone has to take part.”
His anticipatory concern for environmental implications, his profound comprehension of contemporary mutations, his enthusiasm for imagining new lifestyles, his determination to change the world, his devotion to a positive reduction, his love of ideas, his desire to defend the intelligence of usefulness—and the usefulness of intelligence—have accompanied one iconic creation after the other… From everyday products such as furniture and lemon squeezers, to revolutionary mega-yachts, micro wind turbines, electric cars, and hotels that aspire to be wondrous, stimulating and intensely vibrant places, Starck never ceases to push the boundaries and criteria of contemporary design. His technological miracles are vectors of democratic ecology, focused on action and a respect for the future of both humans and nature. Predicting the phenomena of convergence and dematerialisation, Philippe Starck has always devised objects that demand the most from the least. The solutions provided by his dreams are so vital, so essential that he was the first Frenchman to be invited to the legendary TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) conferences, talks that bring together such illustrious speakers as Bill Clinton and Richard Branson.
Inventor, creator, architect, designer, artistic director…
Philippe Starck is all of the above, but above all he is a man of honesty, in the purest tradition of the Renaissance artists.
“Subversive, ethical, ecological, political, humorous… this is how I see my duty as a designer.”
A childhood of art
“My father was an aeronautical engineer. For me it was a duty to invent”.
Philippe Starck was born in 1949. From his childhood spent beneath the drawing tables of his airplane building, aeronautic engineer father, he retains a primary lesson: everything should be organised elegantly and rigorously, in human relationships as much as in the concluding vision that presides over every creative gesture. His absolute belief that creation should be used and enjoyed by all sees him relentlessly endeavouring to do well, right down to the tiniest detail.
But years later has he really left his first improvised office? According to him, not completely. “Ultimately they were children’s games, imagination games, but thanks to various skills, especially engineering, something happened. I’m a kid who dreams and at the same time I’ve got that light-heartedness and gravity of children. I fully accept the rebellion, the subversion and the humour.”
Starck first showed interest in living spaces while he was a student at the Ecole Nissim de Camondo in Paris, where in 1969 he designed an inflatable house, based on an idea on materiality. This revelation bought his first success at the Salon de l’Enfance. Not long afterwards, Pierre Cardin, seduced by the iconoclastic design, offered him the job of artistic director at his publishing house.
In 1976 and a few emblematic objects later, including a flying lamp and a portable neon sign, this intrepid dreamer created the audacious decor of the night club, La Main Bleue—in Montreuil—demonstrating that no venue is less respectable than another just because of its eccentricity. He went on to do the legendary Parisian nightclub Les Bains Douches and the Starck Club in Dallas.
At the same time he founded his first industrial design company, Starck Product, which he later renamed Ubik after the famous Philip K. Dick novel. Here he initiated his collaborations with the biggest design manufacturers in Italy – Driade, Alessi, Kartell – and the world – Drimmer in Austria, Vitra in Switzerland Swiss and Disform in Spain, among so many others.
In 1983 the general public discovered Philippe Starck when, on the advice of Culture Minister Jack Lang, President François Mitterrand chose his project to decorate the private residences at the Elysée Palace. It symbolised an institutional recognition of design. The following year his fame went global thanks to the success of the Café Costes, a new venue that was functional and elegant, that contained all the essence of Starck architecture while converging with the birth and the flourishing of a community. His reinvention of the codes of the Parisian cafe made it THE cafe par excellence.