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In conversation with Philippe Starck

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We got the maverick French design legend to share with us a glimpse in to his world

For almost 40 years now, iconic French designer Philippe Starck has had just one aim for his creations. Starck wants his designs to serve a simple purpose – that they “must make life better for the largest number of people possible.” And it definitely isn’t far-fetched to say that he has achieved that in a number of ways. Think about the Ghost Chair, that’s become an icon in its own right; the Paramount hotel in New York, the Fossil Watches, the D’E Light with device charger for Flos, bathroom faucets and fixtures for Hansgrohe, the V+ Volteis Electric Car or even Steve Jobs’ yacht. In this conversation, Starck tells us what makes him tick.

What's your earliest memory of wanting to become a designer?
I never chose to be a designer; design chose me. When I was young, I felt I did not fit in – as I still think today – and I was drowning in a dark hole. I realised that there was only one thing I knew: creativity, mostly from my father who was an aircraft inventor, engineer and manufacturer.

Architecture, interiors, industrial design, products, vehicles, the list goes on. What makes you do what you do? 
Architecture nor design has never interested me as such. They are just 'weak weapons' to try to express oneself. A designer’s duty is to offer new solutions that improve living conditions. A designer can do everything but has to respect some rules: quality, honesty, creativity and (if he can) also poetry. My only love is the love I have for 'Us' – this beautiful animal species that has taken control of the speed and quality of its evolution. No one needs to be a genius but everyone needs to participate.

What kinds of projects excite you the most?
I am tempted to say the next one, of course. But I am quite excited to be able to create and work on abstractions, me who has always generated matter. Matter is vulgar, it 'stinks' and gets damaged. While for example creating a perfume like STARCK PARIS or beer like STARCK BEER is finally allowing me to be elsewhere, in a mental territory.

Tell us about the Sleepbox you've designed...
It is an important project because it really is useful. I have spent all my life working my hardest hoping to save lives. But a designer can create a chair or a toothbrush and if he is lucky, he can improve people’s lives but never save them. With medical equipment, it becomes possible. Sleepbox by Starck is a medical device for sleep apnea patients.

What are you most proud of? 
I am happy with my battle for democratic design. When I started design, it was an elite-only space. I have fought for decades in order to raise quality while lowering prices in order to make good design accessible. I took two zeros off the price of a chair.

During a project, what part do you enjoy the most?
What pleases me – and is of utmost importance – is the effect my creations will have on the final user. It is about all the benefit the person can take from what came from my brain.

Your way of living is…
When I am not obliged to travel, I live with my wife Jasmine and our daughter Justice, in remote places around the world, always with raw nature in front of the sea, the forest, or mud...

Your pet peeve is...
Laziness. No one needs to be a genius but everyone must participate in the beautiful story of our evolution.

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