PHILIPPE STARCK, de­signer “I’M NOT SAV­ING LIVES — BUT I HAVE A MORAL COMPASS”

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“What drives your work?” – “I’ve al­ways wanted to learn more about the mys­tery that lies at the heart of every­thing, the min­i­mum that makes us who we are, the soul – although I don’t like to use that word. To put it in more mun­dane terms: De­sign is like a car, but it can’t move with­out an en­gine.”

“Why is this in­sight so im­por­tant?” – “The fu­ture is about de­ma­te­ri­al­iza­tion – the more ma­te­ri­al­ity, the less hu­man­ity. In my Generic col­lec­tion, I was search­ing for the min­i­mum – the square root, as it were – to un­lock the essence of the ob­ject. This ap­proach is in­ter­est­ing in­tel­lec­tu­ally, but also in terms of econ­omy and ecol­ogy.”

“What state­ment are you try­ing to make with your de­signs?” – “De­sign to­day is of­ten use­less. It can im­prove life and make it a lit­tle more beau­ti­ful, but it can’t save lives. I didn’t choose de­sign; it chose me. I’m proud of the qual­ity of my work – within my bub­ble, which has be­come to­tally unim­por­tant. The prob­lem is, I can’t do any­thing else, so I try to achieve the great­est pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal im­pact with my work. The Generic col­lec­tion is part of a moral ef­fort. I’m not sav­ing lives – but I do have a moral compass.”

Philippe Starck, 69, is a French de­signer and one of the best-known ex­po­nents of New De­sign. Starck de­signs prac­ti­cally every­thing – rang­ing from build­ings and fur­ni­ture to mo­tor­cy­cles, and from home decor to sim­ple util­i­tar­ian goods.

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