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10 Insights into the Design Mind of Philippe Starck

Philippe Starck is one of the most prolific designers of our time. He has turned his hand to practically everything there is, from hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, to furniture, tableware, baggage, kitchens and even nutrition. Often regarded as the bad boy of design, Starck is known for his witty reinterpretation of everyday objects and anyone who has had the pleasure of being in the same room as him will undoubtedly find him extremely engaging and most definitely entertaining.

Freshome had the pleasure of encountering Monsieur Starck a few weeks ago in Berlin at the world premiere of his latest bathroom collection for Axor. Held at the E-Werk, the launch of Axor Starck Organic was an elaborate affair that saw Starck unveiling his new creation and allowing all who attended to get an intriguing insight into the workings of his undeniably brilliant mind.

1. Creativity is hard work

“I go to my house in Formentera, which I have had for 46 years. When I am there I am working, working, working night and day with my wife, it’s very boring for her […]  I work alone for 8-10 hours a day especially from June to the middle of September and everything is done during this time. This is my period of creativity.”

2. Creativity is not fun

“It’s not fun to create, ask a mother. It is the best time of your life but it is not fun. It is like a drug addiction. You have to know that at the end of August I am destroyed and I have to go to a clinic. After these three months of work, I go to the clinic to rest because I am destroyed and I am in pain everywhere. I can’t make any decisions.”

3. Pressure is not an issue

“I am pressure proof. It is impossible to put pressure on me. I am the freest person in the world. But when you progress, you make better and better and better.  When you start to improve it is very difficult to continue.”

4. Design should be timeless

“A designer has a duty to create timeless design. To be timeless you have think really far into the future, not next year, not in two years but in 20 years minimum.”

5. Success isn’t about numbers

“I have worked all my life to stay the smallest possible. For me it was possible to become a business man with 400 designers making a business and becoming very rich. But I didn’t want this. Two years ago when there were 60 or 70 of us, I closed down the company. I paid everybody and destroyed the company so I could start again from scratch to be sure that I could always stay the smallest possible.”

6. Creativity is a personal thing

“Creativity is not industry, creativity is not inspiration, it’s just a guy, naked in front of the page. That means everything you see that is good, it was me, everything that you see that is bad, it was me.”

7. Design cannot solve everything

“Every time has its own tool or its own weapon and every tool or weapon has its own time. For the challenge we have today, the violence of the challenge and the urgency of the challenge, design is perhaps not the right tool for the next 20 years.”

8. There are 2 types of design

“There are two types of design: Useful, which saves lives and useless, which doesn’t save lives. Today design doesn’t save lives. Design has never ever saved lives but before this was not so urgent. Design at best can try to improve life.”

9. What is happiness?

“I don’t know what happiness is, but since I married Jasmine I start to understand.”

10. Never be satisfied

“I am always disappointed. Sometimes, because I am very feminine, I cry when I see the results. I never go to hotels or restaurants that I have designed because for me they are like a mirror that reflects all my mistakes, my weaknesses. I am always disappointed in myself.”

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