Philippe Starck is one of the world’s most original and creative designers with a prolific profile of products to his name, covering everything from citrus juicers to lighting, chairs to headphones. He is also an interior designer and architect.
Influenced by his father, who was an aircraft engineer, Philippe studied at the Ecole Nissim de Camondo, Paris. In 1968 set up his first company which produced inflatable objects and created nightclub interiors. Philippe first gained international attention in 1983, when he was commissioned to refurbish the private apartments in the Elysee Palace for French President Francois Mitterrand.
He went on to design restaurant interiors for the Café Costes in Paris, Manin in Tokyo, Theatron in Mexico City and Teatriz in Madrid. He was also responsible for the interior design of the Royalton and Paramount Hotels in New York, Delano in Miami and Mondrian in Los Angeles to name a few. Over the course of these varied commissions, Philippe did not develop one distinct aesthetic or a preference for certain materials. Rather, he addressed the needs of an individual client, whether it was the somewhat conservative character of state apartments or the more flamboyant tone needed for a trendy nightclub. Some constants did develop in Philippe’s work, however, such as a preference for fluid, organic forms and the inclusion of subtle, playful details.
Parallel to his career as an interior designer, Philippe developed an international reputation for his wide range of industrial designs. Often displaying the same organic, fluid lines of his interiors, the varied products he designed on commission include mineral-water bottles for Glacier, kitchen appliances for Alessi, toothbrushes for Fluocaril, luggage for Samsonite, “Urban Fittings” for Decaux, office furniture for Vitra, watches for Fossil, the Optical Mouse for Microsoft and even food - Panzani pasta and Lenotre Yule logs.
Probably his most famous design is the Juicy Salif Lemon Squeezer he designed for Alessi. The aluminum tripod design could be mistaken for a streamlined alien invader from a ‘50s pulp comic. He’s rumored to have said: "It's not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations." Another important piece is the Louis Ghost Chair designer he designed for Kartell. This iconic seat shows Philippe playing with form and material, recasting the royal Louis XV chair concept with translucent, injection-molded polycarbonate. More than a million of these chairs have been sold.
Philippe’s populist vision for design were often sold at affordable price points and through mass-market venues. He hoped that his work would improve people’s lives by adding an element of charm, pleasure and surprise to everyday acts such as brushing teeth or cooking. The designer himself was often featured in ads for his products, since his flamboyant, lighthearted personality embodied the message of his work.
Philippe’s work is seen in the collections of European and American museums including the Musee National D’Art Moderne, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, MOMA and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Basel and the Design Museum in London. Philippe also works as an architect. His best known works are the Asahi Beer Hall and the Unhex Nani-Nani office building in Tokyo which is an anthropomorphic structure, clad in a living material that evolves over time. The thesis being that design should take its place within the environment but without impinging on it. His more recent projects include the Alhondiga – a cultural and leisure venue in Bilbao, Port Adriano harbor in Mallorca and he also designed Steve Jobs boat Venus.
Philippe was the first designer to participate in the TED Talks. He has received many awards including the Excellence in Design Award from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Grand Prix National de la Création industrielle and the Honor Award of the American Institute of Architects. Philippe has been married four times and has five children – Ara, Oa, Lago, Justice and K, - he claims he chooses his children's names randomly using a computer program.
So, why is he a #Houseproud hero?
A true one-off, Philippe Starck is one of most influential designers of modern times. From transparent furniture to sculptural lemon squeezers, his designs have changed the way we live with their stylised, organic look often constructed using unusual and innovative combinations of materials. Discover an object or a place designed by Philippe Starck, is to enter a world of imagination, surprises and fabulous fantasy. He says:
“If we are obliged to buy something, we have to buy something intelligent, which has longevity, so that you don't put it in the trash five years later because it is no longer a good look. It must have longevity of materiality because five years later if you still like the look, but the quality was bad, it goes in the trash. It's a new way of thinking. You don't buy a product for six months. You buy for you, for your life and for your children and your grandchildren.”