This month, we’re celebrating all things modern design, thanks to our semi-annual Design Event happening now at Lumens.com. We’ll be highlighting pieces that have made design history, new and buzzworthy introductions and the stories behind contemporary work from all over the globe.
Where do humor, politics, controversy and design all come together? These tenets can be seen in the work of one Mr. Philippe Starck, one of the world’s best-known modern designers. Since his career took off in the 1980s, Starck has made major contributions to interior design, architecture, product creation, technology, and much more, having designed everything from a flyswatter to a custom yacht. His wide reach and willingness to try new things have defined his life in the industry.
Starck’s father was an aeronautical engineer, so the young Parisian was endlessly fascinated by how things worked—he even spent much of his childhood disassembling everyday objects. Starck studied at the Ecole Nissim de Camondo, where he started to develop a reputation for his off-the-wall designs. One of his first radical creations was an inflatable house, which caught the eye of some major pros in the industry.
In the 1980s, Starck got his first taste of notoriety when he was chosen by the French president to redesign the Elysee Palace. He also took on the interior of the Café Costes in Paris and infused it with simple design elegance—his lacquered wood and leather chairs for the coffee shop continue to be popular today (which is something to be said for ’80s design, right?). Starck approached all of his restaurant designs by finding a way to match up his unique aesthetic with the soul of each venue. He put the same technique to use when designing hotel interiors, such as the Delano Hotel in Miami, the Mondrian Hotel in Hollywood and the Clift Hotel in San Francisco.
Lucky for us, Starck’s talents can also be found in a number of everyday objects to infuse his edgy elegance into any space in your home. A few of our favorites include:
Starck unveiled his iconic Louis Ghost Chair in 2002, which combined the simplicity of plastic furniture with a nod to classic design. Based on the French Louis XVI armchair, this Kartell product is manufactured from a single-mold form injection polycarbonate. The stackable indoor and outdoor chair is streamlined in its design, and it’s also essentially indestructible. A big hit among design aficionados and not, more than 1.5 million Louis Ghost Armchairs have been sold to date.
The Juicy Salif is an everyday juicer that can serve equally as a functional piece in the kitchen and a beautiful objet to display. Since it was designed in 1990, its become one of the signature pieces for Italian design factory Alessi. The spindly legs are quintessentially Starck, who first conceived the idea on a pizzeria napkin during an Italian holiday.
Starck’s Miss K Table Lamp for Flos Lighting is a modern take on a classic lamp shape, with a transparent polycarbonate shade, through which an inner diffuser just barely peeks through when unlit. When lit, the shade is transparent, with the bulb shining through the metallic shade.
Beyond interior products, some of Starck’s most famous designs are everyday technological items you might not associate with the Starck name. His Optical Mouse for Microsoft was one of the brand’s first pieces of equipment designed primarily for aesthetics. He also created an artistic toothbrush for Fluocaril, headphones and speakers for Parrot, and plenty of other products that bridge great design with technology. He even partnered with Target to create a line of household accessories. Starck is committed to putting humanity at the heart of progress, so he wants his designs to bring beauty to everyday objects. He was even the first designer ever to take on a TED Talk, where he waxed poetic on “Why design?”
Starck is sometimes called “overexposed,” but that’s one reason why modern design aficionados love him. His design brings art to the masses, with each new design promising something unseen.
Save on Philippe Starck designs during The Design Event at Lumens.com, now thru October 31, 2015.