Philippe Starck to the Rescue?
Published 09th October 2009 - 29 comments - 4183 views -
Can the French bad boy of design that is Philippe Starck really save us from ourselves? That's the question I found myself pondering over as I watched 'Design for Life' on BBC 2 last night. In his search for some fresh talent to join his Parisian agency, Starck, who ranks as one of the world's best known designers, looked to England for inspiration.
Renowned for his lavish yacht and hotel interior designs, his 'green' rhetoric comes as quite a surprise, I must say. Democratic, ethical, sustainable, ecological - all this coming from someone who has for decades been at the centre of the oh-so-fickle world that is product design. His vision, his approach, in fact his very raison d'être are all a far cry from the Philippe Starck we all thought we knew.
You will try to help your tribe, your society, your civilisation to have a better life, he declares (in an awfully cute French accent) as he instructs his British protégés to invent a product, which is both accessible and eco-friendly, and at the same time, constitutes a positive contribution towards society. His philosophy of sustainable design sparks some quite extraordinary product proposals. From floating cities, and smart meters, to clothes made out of dust, and re-cyclable tampons, clearly some are more appealing than others!
Listening to Starck wax lyrical about escaping the materialist world we live in, one could easily have mistaken him for a politician or ever a philosopher. Quite amazingly, in a programme devoted to design, neither trends nor profit margins are mentioned. Of course aesthetics still play a big role, but always as second fiddle to purpose and sustainability.
I have to admit I did have my doubts. It does all sound a bit too good to be true, doesn't it? But some digging reveals that Starck is more than willing to put his money where his mouth is. He has come up with a very novel concept, one he calls 'Democratic Ecology'. It is a personal wind-turbine, which he claims can generate between 20 and 60% of the energy needed to power a home.
Have I got this right? Consumerism is so 'last year' and sustainable design is now the 'in' thing? Surely not! Even more inconceivable is that a designer is at the helm of this new trend. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - I'm just a little surprised, that's all.
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