Philippe Starck: Rock Star of Contemporary Design

Posted on Nov 11, 2013 in Discover | No Comments
Philippe Starck: Rock Star of Contemporary Design

Philippe Starck is the rock star of contemporary design. He’s as famous for his lemon squeezer as for designing a billionaire’s yacht.


Before I tell you more about him, let’s play a game I like to call That’s Really Beautiful But What On Earth Is It Actually For? Scroll through the images below, and try to guess what each Philippe Starck-designed item is actually supposed to do.

  • Hot Bertaa
  • Walter Wayle
  • WW

Could you guess any of them? I’ve tried this out on my friends, and the best score was two out of three.

I think this has given you some idea of the abstract way in which Philippe Starck’s mind works. But how does he come up with his ideas? Well, let’s take the lemon squeezer as an example. You may have seen the Juicy Salif (pictured below), which looks like something out of a sci-fi horror film. Starck came up with the idea for this design whilst eating squid in a restaurant, and squeezing fresh lemon juice onto it. His boss at Alessi tells the story of receiving a napkin in the post covered with cocktail sauce, and Starck’s sketches of a squid, slowly morphing into this iconic design.

Images: Juicy Salif, Aprilia Moto

  • Juicy Salif
  • Aprilia Moto

[Photo credits: Tim Kirsch, Bike EXIF]

The reason we say Philippe Starck is the rock star of contemporary design is because as a designer, he is a law unto himself. His ethos combines a cartoonish minimalism with a rebellious streak. Starck-designed products are wacky and whimsical, without ever being silly. It is clearly the work of a true individual, and it has confidence written all over it, yet it isn’t so didactic as to alienate the user. There is something thoughtful and welcoming about it, too. The Bubble Club and Ghost Chairs, in the images below, are prime examples of this.

Images: Bubble Club, Louis Ghost Chairs, Ghost Chairs

  • Bubble Club
  • Louis Ghost Chairs
  • Ghost Chairs

[Photo credits: smow, FrancoLight, QuestoDesign]

Now I’ll reveal the answers to the quiz. The first item is the Hot Bertaa kettle. The second is the Walter Wayle wall clock. (I can’t quite figure that one out. There must be a lot of minimalists arriving late for meetings. “So sorry, guys, I couldn’t read my Philippe Starck wall clock!”) The third item is the WW Stool.

Click here to catch a rare glimpse inside the much-talked-about 300-million-dollar yacht designed by Starck for the Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko. It costs half a million dollars just to fill the gas tank!

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